Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Building Sustainable Capacity

As a leader, how do you build sustainable capacity in your staff?

It was probably Peter Senge who first introduced capacity building into the organizational and management literature.  In attempting in 1990 to demonstrate a logical link between the concepts of knowledge society and organizational development, Senge asserted that two conditions must be met in the work of 21st century organizations: first, the notion that the professional learning community must become accepted as integral to organizational development and, second, professional learning communities, once in operation, must accept that their core purpose involves the creation and sustainability of significant "new knowledge". 

It was out of these dual premises that the concept of educational capacity building was born.  For, according to Senge, when the professional community of an organization such as a school creates significant "new knowledge", and sets in place processes to ensure the ongoing refinement and dissemination of that knowledge, the organization's "capacity" to achieve and sustain success is greatly enhanced.

In the two decades since Senge's pioneering thinking, capacity building and its two key subordinate concepts - knowledge creation and professional learning community - have become fundamental organizational constructs. 

From:  From School Improvement to Sustained Capacity by Frank Crowther
Published by: Corwin Press


  1. This idea of knowledge creation is becoming clearer to me as I work with small groups - networks, PLCs, teams - of teachers and administrators. The closer we get to classroom practice and looking at student work collaboratively, the more challenging the work becomes. This is when we really create knowledge through sharing and probing one another's thinking.

  2. The idea of knowledge creation as opposed to knowledge acquisition is important. From my experience, acquiring knowledge is less impactful in practice than co-created knowledge.

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