Learning Organizations: Extending the Field: 6 (Knowledge and Space)

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The contributions enrich the spatial turn in organization studies by offering fresh insights for researchers who seek to attend to the contextual dimensions of the phenomena they are studying. They provide examples of organizational places and spaces that have not yet received sufficient attention, as diverse as temporary international organizations and computer screens. Command or Conviction? Informal Networks and the Diffusion of Controversial Innovations. Sozialwissenschaften Soziologie. This workshop is an opportunity to bring together scholars and practitioners to jointly discuss and reflect on contents, approaches and methodologies that draw the link between sustainable development and creativity.

Recent books include Learning Organizations. Extending the Field with P. Meusburger and L. Suarsana, Springer ; Moments of Valuation. Woodilla, Routledge, She has also published extensively on CSR and organizational learning, and presented her findings to policymakers and managers throughout Europe and Asia.

We also have Robert Sroufe as a special guest to assure the relationship of this workshop to the whole conference:. Robert Sroufe, Duquesne University. Thomas J. Donahue Graduate School of Business. Facilitating sustainable development through a variety of creative approaches. Based on the inspiring outcomes of the first Artem OCC conference, which have been documented in a special issue of the Journal of Cleaner Production we would like to continue the discussion on how sustainable development can be facilitated and fostered by the creativity of individuals, groups and organizations.

Past and present researches on creativity and sustainability have demonstrated that it is not restricted to some particular fields and could be approached from cross-disciplinary perspectives. A variety of models have been developed to address comprehensive views on creativity e. Amabile, ; Sternberg and Lubart,; Woodman et al. These models put forward processes of exploring the realm of creativity, explain how creativity could be improved through techniques, explore and discuss the relationship between creativity and other disciplines and mainly the importance of creativity in different contexts.

There are a couple of problems with this common notion of perception.

Research questions

Secondly, progress in the field of understanding the biology of perception is beginning to show that it is an untenable viewpoint…. The reason we have this love affair with this simple model of an external world is that it suggests a basis of certainty. We have a deep love of certainty. It starts our whole cognitive process off with an external point of reference — the reality that is out there.

What we need to do is give up the belief that there is absolutely, intrinsically, an external reality. Rather than thinking about a causal loop diagram as either a description of the way the world really is, or a forecast of the future, we can actually begin to think of it as a tool of perception — a way of seeing certain things we otherwise might not see.


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Without the linguistic distinction of a feedback loop, many people see a world where if demand rises and production capacity is out of line, we have problems left diagram. Some may or may not see the connection to quality. Some may or may not see the connection from quality to demand. Many do not even think in terms of the whole unit.

In this worldview, when you eventually find yourself with falling demand, you blame the fickle customers or attribute it to tough competitors. However, if we recognize the language of systems thinking and its set of linguistic distinctions, we might draw a link between demand and production capacity right diagram. That is, we add capacity based on demand. By comparing these two diagrams we can see that, depending on what worldview we choose, we construct a whole different set of perceptions.

Perceiving through Our Distinctions We perceive the world by making distinctions — but where do those distinctions come from? That is the territory of culture, because by and large, how we make distinctions is inherited. Our perceptions are collective, not individual. To a much higher degree than we recognize, we, collectively, are the perceiving apparatus, not I.

Breadcrumb

So what might be some of the implications? One implication is that it will begin to shift the perceptual center of gravity in our culture. Right now that center has shifted to the extreme of events and short-term orientation. The practical question is, what can we be doing to shift that perceptual center of gravity? Several years ago my friend Pierre Wack, the man who developed the scenario planning process at Royal Dutch Shell, was telling me an interesting story that highlighted the difference between prediction and forecasting.

He had lived in India for much of his life, and he told me that if it rains for seven days in the foothills of the Himalayas, you can predict the Ganges will flood. If it rained for seven days in the middle of a tropical rain forest, there would be no flood. A prediction, however, is an understanding of certain predetermined consequences. But you have some appreciation of an underlying phenomenon…. If you close your eyes and raise your hand, you are aware your arm is upraised. When you close your eyes, you know where your body is.

If that part of the brain is damaged, you have to learn to use visual cues to control your body, because you are no longer conscious of your body movements. It appears we have no proprioception regarding our thoughts — we just have them. Our perceptions just occur to us. We have to become proprioceptive of our thought and our perception…. Seeing into the future is not about our eyes. We need to be able to speed up time in a way that allows everybody to see it.

We need to be able to see into the future and extend our time horizon, by virtue of the distinctions we invoke.


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Maybe the whole purpose of this systems thinking stuff is nothing but expanding our capacity for perception…. Our perceptions may be vastly more collective than we think. The exploration into dialogue is clearly in the right area, because it looks at the generative process whereby we invent cultural distinctions collectively. This is not an individual job. This is us, not me, not I….

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One thing I keep coming back to, as a deep, deep, personal cornerstone in the changes that have to be made, is this business about certainty. There is something in all of us that loves certainty. And my own experience in watching others is that one of the things that may be the hardest to give up is that rigid external point of reference — what is it really? If our old ways of perceiving the world are dysfunctional, then the institutions and structures that are a product of those perceptions need to be reviewed and redesigned. Russell Ackoff presented a different kind of organizational structure that is more closely aligned with the democratic ideals that govern the way we operate as a nation.

He proposes a circular design where hierarchy is not just top-down but bottom-up as well.

Every system has essential properties which none of its parts have. If I bring an automobile into this room and take it apart, I no longer have an automobile. The same thing is true in business. Business schools offer courses in production management, finance, accounting, marketing, etc.

They take the organization and business apart.

Learning Organizations

The assumption is that if you know how to run each part, you can then put them together into a well-run whole. Effective management has to be the management of the interactions of the parts, not of the parts taken separately. Divide and conquer is no longer an effective strategy for management.

How, then, can we organize in order to manage interactions?

We can no longer get things done in our organizations by exercising power over people…. The solution, then, is to democratize organizations. Now, this appears to raise a paradox.