Learnscape patterns

Getting things done with knowledge workers involves figuring out what you want to accomplish, collaborating with others to develop a concept, getting people on board, and proceeding holistically. This is tricky. There’s no cookbook. It’s not step-by-step. And your case is different from the next person’s.

Because every organization is different, same-size-fits-all approaches aren’t ideal for designing learnscapes. A more sound approach is to mix and match components that have worked well in a variety of situations in the past to assemble up hybrid models to try on for size. Just as words can be used to create an endless variety of sentences, standard elements can be reconfigured to create very personalized learnscapes. Renegade architect Christopher Alexander calls these timeless elements patterns, and we’ll do the same.

Patterns are rules of thumb. Some are quite specific; others are general. A pattern describes a situation, a way of dealing with it, and a story to illustrate its application. Patterns come on many levels, from enterprise strategic intent and long-term perspective, through values like trust in workers or openness to change, to infrastructure issues such as full internet access and offering places to meet, to practical aspects of sharing stories and using collaborative software, and eventually down to common sense things like learning from one’s mistakes.

The Learnscape patterns we are developing currently fall into five categories. A category called meta describes how patterns fit together and other aspects of improving organizational learning.

Learnscapes | Organizations | Business | Cognition | Toolbox

Learnscaping: platforms in lieu of programs, networks and internet culture, learning ecologies, transparency, trust, value-driven and do-it-yourself.

Organizations: getting things done in groups, phases of implementation, internal marketing, change process, core vs context, each one/teach one

Business: enterprise 2.0, let it be, loose coupling, community, distributed intelligence, talent, cut slack, KM, scope, group performance support.

Cognition: natural learning, learning life cycle, memory, group impact, identity, fulfillment, PKM, stories.

Toolbox: web 2.0 suite, virtual life, mobile, games, search, visuals, search, video, webinars, unconferences

Countless web pages, webinars, and books will tell you all you need to know about the mechanics of web 2.0 tools. It reminds me of the early days of personal computers when bookstores had to expand just to hold all the computer books, and people came together in user groups to figure out how things worked. The how-to stuff is out there.

The trouble is, the mechanics are the tip of the iceberg. It’s as if telephones were being introduced into corporations for the first time, and people flocked classes on dial tones, calling 911, and area codes. No, no, no. To make things work, you need to learn about phone etiquette, reasonable expectations on calling people back, and dealing curtly with telemarketers. That’s the sort of thing we’re working toward with patterns,

This is a work in progress. it took Christopher Alexander 14 years to document the 235 patterns in A Pattern Language. We’re on internet time here, but it will be a year before our patterns cross the chasm.