Because we are now in possession of the social technologies that can drive them, the internet-fuelled learning organisation has become an inevitable product of an age of accelerating workplace digitisation. It presents an enormous opportunity for commercial developers.
Creating learning capacities in a business will now prove itself one of the most critical managerial competencies of all, and if they have no deliberate strategy for learning, companies risk sacrificing competitive relevance.
Increasingly, pain will be felt by managers held hostage by inadequate knowledge-creation and management processes, relative to competitors, their industry or best current practices elsewhere.
But there’s the greater part of the problem.
Once a company gets above a certain size and its workplace possibly distributed between multiple offices, floors and buildings, its bosses no longer know or are able to understand the inner workings of the minds of those who work for them.
That makes what their people know increasingly hard to reach, and the under-used knowledge that exists in any business is simply never just lying on the surface waiting to be found.
This is certainly the case when the nature of the workplace itself exacerbates the problem it should be dedicated to solving – and most do.
A vast majority of workplaces simply aren’t designed for effective learning or knowledge sharing, even in those traditional industries where you might expect this to be a norm, such as publishing.
The truth is that organisations need to be designed to learn, and a major factor of their success in this regard will be found in the design of the premises they occupy.
That is, notwithstanding the barriers of possessing the will, the practices, the technologies and the culture to do so.
The opportunities available to the commercial property owner or developer able to prove its ability to deliver workspaces designed to optimise organisational learning are profound indeed.
If companies without a strategy for learning risk sacrificing competitive relevance, developers unable to accommodate those clients’ needs to do so through the realisation of competitively designed and promoted premises are more than likely to meet a similar fate.
This is simply an enormous opportunity for the developers and managers of properties built as commercial workplaces.
It is also the subject of my research, and I am particularly keen to explore the thoughts and experiences of those who most need to consider this in their own work, and their ideas about how working spaces either best engender, or perhaps more commonly, block, the possibilities for deliberate workplace learning.
If you have experience or opinions you’d wish to give me about possible directions my research should take or connections I should forge, I would be happy to share with you what I learn as I build a small community around this important body of knowledge.