Organizational Serendipity

This is the follow-up site for participants in today's dialogs on informal learning.

Caution: Some of this material is controversial.

Catalysts to the discussion

    Informal learning is the unplanned, "unauthorized" learning that generally flies under the corporate radar. It includes such things as swapping information in the office kitchen or hallway, asking the person in the next cubicle, calling the help desk, watching someone else, trial & error, and calling teammates. People learn most of what it takes to do their jobs informally. Can we afford to leave this up to chance? Today's session addressed how to take advantage of informal learning to improve the bottom line.

    Complexity means that the world is more complicated than you thought and that you'll never have all the answers. Everything's connected and interacting. The future is unpredictable. Shit happens. Today's job is to solve the problems we're not yet aware of.

    Standard problem-solving limits our perspective and buries good things that are not part of the solution to the problem at hand. David Cooperrider says, "Once we describe something as a problem, we assume that we know what the ideal is - what should be - and we go in search of ways to close any 'gaps' - not to expand our knwledge or to build better ideals." As Einstein said, "Problems cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness that created them." ADDIE is dead.

    Serendipity is a "happy accident." People can develop a state of mind that makes serendipity more likely, more frequent, and far more consequential. Fortune favors those who have a cause or mission and pursue it with sagacity, sensitivity, and wisdom. Applying this approach throughout an organization's culture prepares it to expect the unexpected, to notice what others miss, and to be receptive to impressions and intuitions.

    Positive psychology posits that we should stop relying on what we've learned from the mentally ill when advising people who are mentally healthy. Better to look at what makes happy people happy. Take this approach organizationally and you get Cooperrider's Appreciate Inquiry.

    Stories are a compelling way to share knowledge and learn informally. Stories are natural, entertaining, and engaging. When fully engaged, the readers' minds work in concert with the storyteller to focus entirely on generating the virtual world of the story. The power comes from propelling listeners to invent their own stories. Then they own the outcomes. "I liked the book better than the movie because the colors were better."

References

Emerging conclusions

  • Start from strength, not from problems.
  • Cultivate organizational serendipity.
  • Co-create stories to change the culture.
  • Fight bureaucracy creep and (of course) over-formalism.
  • Be aware that the issue is not formal or informal; it's formal and informal.

I will post more after this afternoon's session.


Posted by Jay Cross at September 10, 2003 12:11 PM | TrackBack
Comments

the encyclopedia of informal education is another good source of information.

Posted by: Jay at September 11, 2003 09:51 PM

cool stuff

Posted by: nifty erotic story at June 28, 2004 11:57 PM

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