Organizational learning (Schön, 1995)

24 October 2010

In general, the more an organization depends for its survival on innovation and adaptation to a changing environment, the more essential its interest in organizational learning. On the other hand, formal organizations also have a powerful interest in the stability and predictability of organizational life. An organization is a cooperative system in which individuals depend on the predictability of one another’s responses. Managers must rely on the predictable behavior of their subordinates. Surprise, which is essential to learning, is inimical to smooth organizational functioning. Thus organizations evolve systems of error detection and correction whose function is to maintain the constancy of variables critical to organizational life. They are “dynamically conservative.”

Significant organizational learning – learning which involves significant change in underlying values and knowledge structure – is always the subject of an organizational predicament.  It is necessary to effective organizational adaptation, but it disrupts the constancies on which manageable organizational life depends …

Reflection-in-action is both a consequence and cause of surprise. When a member of a bureaucracy embarks on a course of reflective practice, allowing himself to experience confusion and uncertainty, subjecting his frames and theories to conscious criticism and change, he may increase his capacity to contribute to significant organizational learning, but he also becomes, by the same token, a danger to the stable system of rules and procedures within which he is expected to deliver his technical expertise.

Thus ordinary bureaucracies tend to resist a professional’s attempt to move from technical expertise to reflective practice. And conversely, an organization suited to reflective practice would have features very different from those of familiar bureaucratic settings.

(Shön, 1995, p. 327ff)


Imagination instead of knowledge (Rorty, 1999)

12 October 2010

To say that one should replace knowledge by hope is to say that one should stop worrying about whether what one beliefs is well grounded and start worrying about whether one has been imaginative enough to think up interesting alternatives to one’s present beliefs.

Richard Rorty (1999, s. 34)

New – and unproven (Kelley, 2001)

12 October 2010

You should never underestimate the barriers to people adopting a genuinely new product.

Tom Kelley, General Manager of IDEO (2002, s. 165)

Prototypes (Kelley, 2001)

12 October 2010

A picture is worth a thousand words. Only at IDEO, we’ve found that a good prototype is worth a thousand pictures.

Tom Kelley, General Manager of IDEO (2001, s. 112)

Let’s make a prototype (Kelley, 2001)

12 October 2010

Prototyping is the shorthand of innovation.

Tom Kelley, General Manager of IDEO (2001, s. 101)

Paranoid innovators (Kelley, 2001)

12 October 2010

At IDEO we believe that the myth of the lone genius can actually hamper a company’s efforts in innovation and creativity. After close encounters with dozens of real-life inventors, I have to report that most of them don’t have a lot to teach us about applying the creative process to business. Too many of the inventors I have met suffer from a self-limiting form of paranoia. They want help with their inventions but aren’t quite ready to reveal them. They aren’t quite sure they can trust us with their precious secret and are worried that any potential partners will take advantage of them. So they return to the safety of their garages and basements and nothing ever happens.

Tom Kelley, General Manager of IDEO, (2001, s 70)