Academic journal article Journal of Management and Organization

An Artful Learning Framework for Organisations

Academic journal article Journal of Management and Organization

An Artful Learning Framework for Organisations

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This paper proposes an Artful Learning Framework as an organisational development initiative. The framework is designed to assist people in organisations seeking higher levels of engagement in their strategic and operational endeavours, such as navigating change. The Artful Learning Framework offers three strategies as potential artful learning events designed to help people in organisations engage with each other creatively to achieve their organisational and professional goals. The Artful Learning Wave Trajectory model (Kerr 2006) forms a conceptual antecedent for the Artful Learning Framework. The Framework's strategies align with the relevant literature on organisational learning and, in particular, a proposition of Kerr (2006) who identifies a suite of skills, capacities and capabilities that are important in organisations. The notion of the wave, with the effect of 'pausing and gathering' to consider amidst the inevitable ambiguity and turbulence of forward movement, is invoked as a metaphor for the elements of the Framework which support its strategies. The paper will be of interest to individuals and groups that are committed to profound learning and capability building for the benefit of themselves, their teams and the organisations in which they work.

Keywords: reflection, engagement, organisations, artful learning, management, change

BACKGROUND

It is proposed that real learning involves preparedness to be unsettled (from preconceived notions; habitual behaviours), to question, be creative, and to brook a wider span of possible options in organisational life. The Artful Learning Wave Trajectory model described by Kerr (2006) reflects the notion of perturbation and disturbance capable of spawning creativity as precursors to learning and action (Maturana & Varela 1980, 1987). The purpose of the paper is not to rehearse or further examine Kerr's (2006) model, worthy though that might be, but to suggest some practical strategies that give effect to Kerr's following proposition when she discusses the Artful Learning Wave Trajectory model as follows:

The proposition in this paper is that skills, capacities and capabilities required of people in their organisations include the need to be reflective, to engage with change, to be comfortable with ambiguity, to have standards, to understand the key questions that need to be asked in any situation, to be conscientious about both people and what they want, and to ask about values and trust. (Kerr 2006: 2)

A scan of the literature supports these identified skills, capacities and capabilities as critical to well-functioning organisations. This paper proposes an Artful Learning Framework suggesting three strategies aimed at artfully honing those skills, capacities and capabilities in people and, hence, in organisations. The strategies of the Framework, as for any activity that purports to support the notion of 'being artful' , have to do with transforming self through profound learning experiences which extend human consciousness, as opposed to more instrumental forms of management (Kerr & Darso 2007).

For this paper, the wave is a metaphor for the conceptual reality of turbulence, changeability and ambiguity inevitably inherent in life for the 'self ', people and organisations (Barnett 2004), and for the concept of 'drawing back' to pause and gather (information, people, insight), reflect and engage, as a continuous cycle of learning and growth for the self and the organisation (Figure 1). The paper suggests that to operate in such a way is a form of 'art' which stands to enhance effectiveness for people and organisations. This 'art', as for the Framework, is ever a work in progress. Hence, deployment of the Framework, for example in an organisational change process, is seen as involving an act of will for those involved with leading the change to behave in ways which support productive outcomes and artful, co-operative learning processes. …

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