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Exectutive Summary Learning Lab Denmark Experience

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The Learning Lab Denmark Experience

Created in January 2001, the Learning Lab Denmark Experience (LLD) is a research institution, initially funded by the Danish Government, with the mission of doing "cutting edge research in the areas of learning, knowledge creation and competence development" .

LLD encompasses six consortia, focused on research in practical and theoretical fields, a secretariat that oversees daily operations and a board of directors. The organization is affiliated with the Danish Pedagogical University (DPU), which administers its finances and charges LLD a percentage of its revenues.

LLD aims to by different from other public organizations, traditionally slow unprofessional and bureaucratic.

Since its creation, LLD has been experiencing many challenges and facing managerial problems. Given its complex organisation, the most critical managerial problem is the lack of unity and coordination inside the organization (which means among the consortia and between the consortia and the secretariat).

Indeed, the different stakeholders of the organization hardly move on the same direction, even if they theoretically share the same goal. There are strong tensions organization-wide: the members of the different consortia try to impose their individual view of the way things should be done, the consortium directors and the brokers resist each other's initiatives and LLD' s managers and employees don't want to be considered as a part of DPU.

This coordination problem leads to a major efficiency issue, and many employees and outsiders are disappointed by the large gap between LLD' s expectations and its results.

As for the causes of the problem, it is partly due to a lack of clearly defined processes for achieving results, a lack of guidelines from the managers who supervise the researchers and a lack of feeling that the different parts of LLD have a common interest.

To reach its goals in term of excellence and reposition itself as an efficient cutting edge research institution, LLD needs to build a strong unity and enhance cooperation between its different bodies by implementing a rigorous action plan.

First, LLD needs to set a clear direction for the organization. The aspirations of LLD and the processes of research, like "working experimentally", must be explained clearly.

Then, it is necessary to support collaboration among specialised researchers and functional managers but also among the different consortia. The different consortia must share their resources and findings and not feel that they are competing the ones against the others.

To strengthen the unity of LLD through the feeling that all employees and managers belong to a same community, it is important to create a strong organizational culture. This culture must rely on shared values and aspirations, value excellence and encourage experimentation and curiosity. Given the high quality of LLD' s employees and the mission of the institution, it is crucial to enable creativity and encourage risk-taking.

Since collaboration and coordination are core problems it is important to involve everyone in the activity of LLD, from top managers to bottom employees. Each member of the organization, at each level, must be encouraged to express its view and concerns about the way the organization is functioning. This empowerment of the employees, also involve that they are given responsibilities and are trust to perform.




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