processes in organisations
My main idea is that people are always learning. We needn't make people
learn. What happens is that they are not learning the way we want them
to learn or what we want them to learn, but it is impossible for people
not to learn. Learning is a mental state which no one can escape from.
Learning is happening everywhere and every time. This is a fundamental
starting point when I work in companies. People may not realise how much
they are learning and what their preferred ways of learning are: that is
important to realise.
people say that if learning is taking place all the time then all societies
are learning organisations. That is not the case. The learning organisation
is an organisation which has a conscious policy to improve learning, not
only for the organisation, also for the teams and the individuals in the
organisation; and not only in one kind of learning but in all kinds of
learning. This is a normative concept.
combination of the different forms of learning is most important. My favourite
example is from the Rover Company. They said to all their employees: you
can have 100 Pound Sterling every year for learning. We have only two rules:
you cannot use it for work-related learning; it can only be used for your
own learning, what you find important for yourself. The second rule is
that you have to discuss it with your boss. It was a good initiative:
you stimulate people to learn for their own sake and you send out several
messages, for instance 'we find it important that you are an individual
learner'. The effect was very good. All these people, for the first time,
came to the learning centres, and they discussed learning with their bosses.
And when there was a real need for learning of certain things for the organisation
these people had a different kind of motivation.
is important to focus on the positive side of learning that you are doing
all day, and not 'you have to learn'. Also, the guided learning, the independent
learning and the more implicit forms of learning have to have a certain
balance. In my work in companies I try to make people aware of their implicit
learning. The result is that they say: I didn't know that I learn so much,
that my job gives me so many opportunities to learn – I just didn't think
I would suggest that 'self-directed, reflective individual and collective
learning' is specific for the learning society.
That is one important form of learning, but it is also important that people
have the chance to learn without self-reflection: just learning by doing,
by exploring, by games. Perhaps once a year they think back and reflect
what they have been learning. Reflection can spoil a lot of learning; people
don't like to reflect all the time; some people never like to reflect.
Why should we force them to become like scientists? I would call this 'educationalised'
learning, as it is done in art schools. The other way is just finding situations
where you have a chance to learn: to have variation, to have contact, to
interact with experts, to get feedback from clients, to be involved in
innovation, in experiments or designing tools or web pages. All these kinds
of things help people a lot to learn.
If we want to improve and enhance learning we have to create way for unlearning,
that is unlearning the previous routines, the routines we have in the ways
of working together etc. Unlearning is as much important as learning, and
we should discover new ways for facilitating unlearning.
Unlearning for me is problematic, because to me it is more a question of
understanding what you learn. If you have it incorporated in your body
you might make use of it or not, but it is there, it cannot be stolen from
you, it cannot be erased. The question is more to be reflective. Looking
at the sort of tacit knowledge and values embodied in organisations that
is more difficult to change than formal knowledge.
I also have a problem with unlearning, especially if you treat it from
an individual perspective. You should look at it from a collective level.
I also think that all unlearning is learning. The evidence shows that if
you want people to unlearn something they should learn something else instead;
it cannot just be erased or confiscated. In that respect there is a huge
body of research especially related to young people.
Cluster: Fiesole Oct 01