Friday, May 12, 2006

Culture: organisational learning masterclass with Nancy Dixon

Sarah Cummings blogged about the masterclass with Nancy Dixon we both attended. This photo is from the vodcast I did with her afterwards. Reading Sarah's ideas, I thought it would be nice to blog my own. First of all it is so different to attend a master class as compared to reading one of her books called common knowledge. Even though I could relate very well to the book, the 'live' stories made me see different things, as I started comparing them to the way we often work.

The underlying principles of her organisational learning work are:
* Problem-based- working from a specific issue or problem (not learning for the sake of learning)
* Peer to peer - most learning takes place between peers
* Conversation-based rather than written (same reason as above, most learning takes place through conversations)
* Learning before, during and after- an event of sequence of events
* Working with small groups- for effective learning
* Using life connectors - necessary to connect and link people, rather than using databases
* Have a sufficient understanding of the industry- in other to be able to understand the ways they work

I was particularly struck by the different of working from problems- onwards to learn as compared to the regular organisation of workshops and trainings around themes, as is customary in development work. Working from actual situations, learning is so much more situated in practice automatically.

Then I was triggered by the remark she made not to link learning processes to monitoring and evaluation processes meant to account to stakeholders. In development, a lot of effort goes into thinking how to combine the two- with the obvious inherent dilemma that evaluation processes for accountability purposes undermine trust and focus on what doesn't work. So I found it refreshing to hear a completely different opinion.

Finally, at the end of the Master Class everyone was asked to present one thing they learned during the session back to the group. The answers were so wide apart... So you learn (and take out) in connection to your own learning questions. Since this group of people hardly knew each other (uhm.. apart from some people- was nice to meet some of the ecollaboration people!), the answers will logically be wide apart. In the case of a session with a mature CoP- the answers would likely be closer.

1 comment:

Sarah Cummings said...

Hi Joitske

Interesting to see that your impressions of the Masterclass were more profound than mine! Probably because you knew Nancy's work before starting - well, lets hope that's the reason! Like your summary of Nancy's work.
Best wishes