— Cultural Sources of Newness

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Tag "organizational learning"

When I took a picture of the guests at the opening dinner for the “Culture Around” conference speakers and special representatives from the world of the arts tonight in Warsaw, Justyna, one of the organizers,  said “I know what you are going to do with them! I have read your blog!” Actually, I was just capturing the mood, but then I realized that she was right: this evening offered an opportunity to get back to collecting my thoughts during and after an interesting moment and sharing them in another post. And I recognized that decidedly, dinners trigger the new.

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Imagine my delight when I learned from Fred Girod this week that this year’s theme at the Institute for Advanced Study Konstanz (Kulturwissenschaftliches Kolleg) is “Nichtwissen”! I have been addressing issues of “not-knowing” and “unknowing” in my research on organizational learning and artistic interventions in organizations, as well as in my teaching of cross-cultural management for several years, but this is the first time I have encountered a community of scholars interested in the topic. This is one of the kind of discoveries and stimuli for new learning that a Kolleg is meant to enable. 

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While listening to the choir rehearse before the morning service today, I read a book published in 1985 and was transported back into the days we used basic typewriters. It is a slim little volume that reports on the experimental use of art-based learning in Ford Germany. The trigger for trying out new approaches to training young people in the company at the time was the recognition that the new work processes increasingly required employees not just to follow instructions but to be capable of “independently recognizing and resolving problems” (selbständiger Problementdeckung und Problemlösung fähig sein” p. 1).

Such experiments were not rare in the 1980s: the authors mention activities in other companies like Voith in Heidenheim, BEA in Düsseldorf, BSH in Krefeld; Barthels-Feldhoff in Wuppertal, Wulf & Co in Bramsche; Philips in Wetzlar. (footnote 7, p. 5). This particular project was supported by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Science and accompanied by the Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung.

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