Organisations are concerned with knowledge. They would like to stand out as knowledge companies and knowledge intensive organisations, where employees have, and continually develop, necessary and unique knowledge.
In order to achieve their goal of knowledge, they focus on learning and how learning results in new knowledge.“But are we on the right path here? Do we have the necessary knowledge about what learning is and how to accommodate learning in organisations?” challenges Associate Professor, Cathrine Filstad at BI Norwegian School of Management.
She is researching learning and knowledge development and organisations.A New Perspective on Learning
“The most important knowledge in an organisation is tacit,and cannot be expressed through language,” asserts Filstad.
Learning and knowledge development happen through solving challenges, communicating with those involved, observing how others behave, and gaining personal and common experiences.
Knowledge has become a question of know-how, knowing how to apply knowledge in practice.Sharing Tacit Knowledge
She warns organisations against believing that they address their knowledge development needs simply by sending employees to courses.
“Learning happens in social situations, as know-how when solving challenges, by observing and communicating with colleagues, and, not the least, by having the opportunity to put knowledge into practice. This doesn't normally happen at formal courses,” she says.Courses have their role in learning, but we must consider the object of the course.
“If the goal of course participation is to bring new knowledge back to a practical work situation, then we have to follow it up, not the least by ensuring further development in the organisation, to ensure that knowledge is transferred to know-how and practical application,” emphasises Filstad.Situational Learning
“This entails, among other things, that managers must emerge as facilitators for good learning arenas in the organisation and integrate this as part of the workday,” points out the BI researcher.
Formal courses and training should, according to Filstad, happen “in the situation” internally in the organisation, as much as possible, and between those facing challenges together.
We need to develop a culture based on trust, where employees see it as natural to consult each other when solving challenges, in order to share knowledge. Here, managers must emphasise that this is a common responsibility.Positive Informal Relationships
Having access to colleagues is crucial. This can be a responsibility individual employees take upon themselves. Conversely, managers must be conscious of this, and initiate processes to help employees along.
It is entirely necessary that employees have opportunities to gain experiences together, to observe and communicate, to ensure that tacit knowledge is shared across the organisation.
Cathrine Filstad doesn't hide the fact that this approach and understanding of how learning happens in organisations present us with new challenges. Both managers and employees must relate to totally new demands.References:
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