The aim is to have us all, collectively, appreciate the design of the systems that characterise our society, and for us to participate in their continual improvement
The initiative recognises that the working of our modern society is largely founded on the division of labour and specialisation.
With increased specialisation and division comes fragmentation, so that the different sectors in our society often lack the support and therefore the will to work effectively together for the benefit of society as a whole.
Experience has shown that our desire for “joined-up thinking” has proved more difficult to achieve than first thought. We find that the complexity of our systems is not mastered by good intentions or off-the-shelf solutions. Such ‘system’ problems require a different approach, with new theories of working tested by experimentation; this is a learning approach requiring the sharing of knowledge by all players.
The goal is to help Scotland become a Learning Society: to facilitate the knowledge on how to tackle the complex issues which now challenge our lives. The initiative cannot provide ready answers but can promote a unique way of enabling groups to learn from each other by involving different sectors of our society, and so help these groups tackle for themselves the complex issues of our working lives and communities.
Over the past 25 years we there has been numerous high quality initiatives, allied with extensive documented research. They have made little difference. see the article "What has not Worked in the Past" It is important to learn from these failures, to ask the question why are our organisations such poor learners.
The proposition of this site is that we fail to learn because we do not identify the very basis of our organisational thinking. We copy other people's methods (especially Toyota) and apply them on top of our original assumptions. Therefore nothing really changes. Medicine, Engineering and Electronics have made fantastic progress over the past centuries because they have a disciplined scientific basis to their learning. "Management" and organisations have to adopt a similar discipline. They need to respect properly researched knowledge - see the article on "The Importance of Knowledge" below
To open out consideration of how change happens we provide a pointer to an article by Margaret Wheatley. "How Large Scale Change Really Happens - Working with Emergence" This is an important article which uses the Bush administration's educational aim to "Have No Child Left Behind." It had disastrous consequences despite good intentions, detailed plans and efficient controls. Impinging on the aim was a host of societal perspectives that drove it away from its intent. Her argument is that large scale change emerges when the willing commitment of those involved is enabled by a critical mass of connections. Our plans is to use the internet to make these connections. see Making it Happen
However these connections, to state the obvious, have to be underpinned sound knowledge. Too often unsubstantiated opinion and "flavour of the Month" initiatives have flooded out carefully reasoned arguments. Knowledge must have a sound scientific foundation. This article explores the importance of knowledge. "Knowledge is built on theory" (W Edwards Deming)
Organisations (and individuals) do have underpinning theoretical assumptions. They are often subconscious. As we argue in the knowledge section above we learn when we make these theoretical assumptions explicit and are prepared to challenge them in light of modern research. This section explores the call to base our thinking on theories, in other words for us to see "Management" as a social science that is underpinned by theory. It also provides a comparison between traditional and modern theoretical assumptions.
This article looks at three primary themes of modern concepts
This article looks at the shift in thinking that has been made available to us from the research over the past decades.