When Peter Senge introduced the practice of learning organizations in his book, The Fifth Discipline, he encountered a lot of lipservice from his consulting clients. Plenty of organizations wanted to be seen as actively learning, while they did not want to commit the resources. Learning results in significant changes and that's considered a de-stabilizing threat to enterprises stuck in their ways.It's occurred to me (while reading Tony Karrer's and Michele Martin's posts) that PLE's are less vulnerable to lipservice. An enterprise would only commit to "inside the firewall" PLE's if it wanted the learning that comes from them. I doubt there is much glamour or window dressing to having PLE's throughout an organization. Why would the detached constituencies (stockholders, foundations or voters) be impressed with an enterprise unleashing a tide of highly individualized learning?
Scobel and Israel's Naked Conversations, suggested there was much "high visibility" and "good press" garnered from transparent corporate blogs. That positive attention comes from blogging customers and industry journalists who are also writing about the company. PLE's could earn some of this same respect, credibility and exposure. PLE's could also use their tags and subscriptions to be more transparent. However, customers and journalists are a different constituency than the shareholders who jump for joy at budget cutbacks, downsizing and upturns in efficiency metrics -- when quarterly earnings growth is flat.There is a kind of enterprise that would value PLE's for internal use. These enterprises would naturally commit to "inside the firewall" PLE's wholeheartedly. They would have successes with bottom-up innovations and changes in strategy. They would value the employees who are close to the customers and full of "bad news" about products, follow-through, changes, etc. These enterprises would commit considerable resources to responding to complaints, problem solving breakdowns and changing procedures that malfunction.
Enterprises that love PLE's would frequently debrief the lower ranking members for their insights, perspectives and advice. They would occasionally cannibalize their own products, abandon past successes and dismantle their own departments. Being this fluid and open to transformation would require the far reaches of the organization learning as much as possible every day from every relevant source. PLE's would make perfect sense and get used intensely.Clearly this is a different use of PLE's than those outside the firewall, for free rangers, and for learning from everything of personal interest.