WHEN WILL WE LEARN?
When I first encountered this and other learning histories I was struck by their novelty. In all of our academic literature there is remarkably little novelty, either in content or form of presentation. The OilCo learning history is novel on several levels; it is interesting precisely because its novelty forces new reactions from the reader. One encounters real insights about organizational and personal realities; one encounters dramatic personal statements of the sort one rarely sees in printed nonfiction; one gets bored and wonders where all of this is going; and one discovers that while one section was boring another produced high excitement. At some level the learning history is a projective screen that stimulates the reader at so many levels that one encounters, in the end, one's own assumptions, predisposition, and biases. It is both a pleasant and an unpleasant experience. The point, however, is that it is an experience, not just a passive read of one more bit of academic research.
Let me now expand on the general statement by providing some of my own reactions and insights about this document. My comments are divided into two sections: first the learning history as a new form of research and intervention, and second this particular learning history as a source of insight into organizational change and learning.