A Learning Organization

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A learning organization is an organization whose focus is not on revenue, market share, or profits, but on maximizing the amount of learning about potential revenue sources, promising markets and future profits. Start-ups are almost by definition learning organizations and so is Zemanta. But until recently, all our learning has been implicit, while explicitly stated goals still revolved around usual business metrics. While tracking key performance indicators is important, it is not very helpful in guiding future actions. The best what we can learn from an indicator is that our assumptions were either wrong or inadequate. But why we were wrong is lost on us unless we remember assumptions that have guided our predictions. Similarly, if we want to correct course and not to continue running in the wrong direction, we must actively challenge ourselves to explore the whole space of possible options, not just the ones that feel comfortable. That is why jotting down what we know and what we want to learn is a very powerful technique to force everybody on the team to focus on underlying reasons for the success/failure, not the success/failure itself.

In start-ups, just like in life, the only failure is repeating the same mistakes again and again.

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