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Designing the Smart Organization: How Breakthrough Corporate Learning Initiatives Drive Strategic Change and Innovation Hardcover – October 26, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0470490679 ISBN-10: 0470490675 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Pfeiffer; 1 edition (October 26, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470490675
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470490679
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,350,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Designing the Smart Organization

Increased competition in the international marketplace and the volatile and ever-changing economic landscape have put the spotlight on corporate learning as a business function that can help determine and sustain long-term business success.

Written by Roland Deiser—an internationally acclaimed expert on building strategic capabilities into large-scale systems—Designing the Smart Organization outlines an innovative paradigm of corporate learning that can help any organization achieve remarkable results. In this groundbreaking book, Deiser abandons the traditional thinking about corporate learning and redefines it as the core engine for building sustainable "strategic competence" into the DNA of a firm. Thus corporate learning becomes an indispensable enabler of continuous strategic innovation and change.

Designing the Smart Organization provides a framework for a more comprehensive and strategic perspective of the corporate learning agenda that puts special emphasis on integrating learning interventions with the strategic process of the firm. To demonstrate how this process drives the boundaries of the practice way beyond the established notion of simple training and management education, the book is filled with case studies from leading companies and organizations including ABB, EADS, Siemens, Novartis, BASF, Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, and the U.S. Army. These studies reveal how leading large-scale and cutting-edge global corporations are using the power of dynamic corporate learning approaches to drive innovation, enhance cultural values, master post-merger integration, transform business models, build technological expertise, foster strategic change processes, and ultimately increase bottom-line results.

For any company that wants to compete in the twenty-first century, Designing the Smart Organization offers inspiring perspectives for integrating corporate learning as a core business practice that will create sustainable strategic and organizational capabilities.

From the Back Cover

Designing the Smart Organization

How breakthrough corporate learning initiatives drive strategic change and innovation

Roland Deiser

Praise for Designing the Smart Organization

"Without any qualification and only with heartfelt enthusiasm, this book should be read immediately by every leader in every institution. My excitement is based on three profound contributions that Deiser's book offers: 1) the single best argument and summary of 'organizational learning' and its significance, 2) ten brilliant and powerful case studies which illustrate his concepts and tremendously practical action steps, 3) this book is especially useful right now in these times when all organizations are facing uncertainty, chaos, and crises. What could be more important to organizational systems and their leaders than to learn, adapt, and recover from these setbacks!"
—Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business at the University of Southern California, author of On Becoming a Leader, and coauthor of Transparency and Judgment

"A smart, useful book; but it is more than just that. With logic and examples, Roland helps us realize just how much we must regrind our lenses for seeing how deep learning can naturally happen in an organization if we just move beyond traditional notions of corporate training and re-conceive learning as a strategic imperative. I highly recommend this book for any corporate leader who wants to succeed in a rapidly changing world."
—John Seely Brown, independent co-chairman, Deloitte Center for the Edge; former chief scientist of Xerox Corp and director of its Palo Alto Research Center (PARC); and coauthor, The Social Life of Information and The Only Sustainable Edge

"[This book is] filled with knowledge and insight about the challenges learning organizations face in the transition from a traditionalist mindset to a forward-looking perspective on learning strategy. If learning organizations can't make this leap they are likely to be relegated to the back office."
—Michelle Marquard, director, corporate learning, Cisco Systems, Inc.

More About the Author

I am keenly interested in how to create sustainable strategic capabilities that foster innovation, change acumen, and agility in large and complex organizations. I pursue this interest by researching, publishing, teaching, speaking, advising, orchestrating executive networks and producing customized think tanks.

I strongly believe it is important to straddle the realms of theory and practice, and I love to oscillate between the two. I gained some practical experience as founding Dean of DaimlerChrysler's Corporate University and continue to do so as Founder and Chairman of a top executive network of currently more than 70 global corporations from 15 countries who have teamed up to share practices and shape the future of the Corporate Learning and Development (

As a scholar, I am a Professor of Organizational Politics and held teaching and senior research positions at various universities in Europe and the United States. Early in 2013, I was appointed the Drucker Senior Fellow at the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University, where my work focuses on the impact of social media on leadership and organization, and on organizational capabilities required in disruptive business environments. Prior to this appointment I served for 10 years as a Senior Fellow with the Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California (USC).

My current home is in Los Angeles, where I live with my wife and two kids.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Crawford on December 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I know this is going to throw some cold water on the complimentfest here, but there really isn't much new here. That being said, this is as good a summation of some conventional wisdom that you can find: it is well written, has interesting ideas, and is a systematic overview. Deiser also has a good critical voice that I appreciated. Perhaps I am jaded, but on one level I find a lot of this rather banal, alas like virtually all of the business press books that I read. Of course, there is a useful thinking process to apply and good ideas that can be implemented to meaningful purpose, but I get tired of the uplifting rhetoric after a while.

Deiser says there are 5 forces to contend with: 1) disruption of rapid change; 2) nurturing a learning organization; 3) evolving strategy based on core competencies; 4) a flat organization with a network of workers to integrated purpose; 5) a periphery from which new ideas can emerge. Now, these are the kinds of things that are circulating as ideas to the point of nausea. The "learning challenge" is to "orchestrate" these forces, improve core competencies, listen to ideas on the periphery, and design spaces - virtual or physical - to enable this. Fine, but arguing against this is like saying you don't like mom's apple pie.

Deiser also defines a hierarchy of learning. You start with facts, then analyze them. A further consideration is emotional learning, relating to personal growth. You also have to interact well socially as well as learn the political ropes. With a jot of ethical considerations, you move to the "meta-dimension", actional learning. The last is supposed to be new, but I can only see it as knowing how to use information to get something new done.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAME on January 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Roland Deiser, founder of the European Corporate Learning Forum, makes informed, interesting points about all aspects of learning in this intriguing, useful book. Some of his charges against "traditional" learning may seem like straw man attacks that he sets up just to knock them down, but his objectives are clear. For instance, he criticizes classroom learning as distinct from the real world - and removed from ethical consideration and action - in order to say that it should be the opposite. Likewise, some of his distinctions among levels of learning (such as "political" or "social" learning) impel analysis, as he says, but may not matter as much in practice. Such caveats aside, much of what Deiser offers is exciting. He starts with a multistage theoretical overview of learning, especially learning in the corporate environment, then moves on to discuss 10 cases studies. Each of these differs wildly from the next, demonstrating evocative possibilities and challenges in corporate learning. Readers are sure to find inspiration and possible models in these case studies. getAbstract recommends Deiser's book to CEOs, trainers, HR personnel and other executives who want to foster learning.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer lv on June 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read every story of the book. It is very instructive and enlightening. As always, successful change in a company starts with the top with a right CLO who know when and what tool can facilitate the change. Participation from all level is essential to the success of the change. The book has given sufficient and vivid descriptions of those companies who survived tough challenges for some important turns. Their practice can be our benchmarks.
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