Recently, I’ve noticed a theme emerging across the ideas I have for side-projects. Broadly, one way or another they are all about ‘learning’. Not just learning in the individual educational sense, but also organisational learning, team learning sense.
When I talk of learning in this way it is within the context of knowledge work, which I think is more fundamentally different to material work than we’ve fully realised. Generally, we treat work as being about producing and moving about ‘things’, because that is what work has been about for a long time. So even if our work is knowledge work we still treat it in this old way.
Modern knowledge work doesn’t really work in this kind of inventory management way. It’s, very generally, about creating new knowledge or organising existing knowledge, and I don’t think we have the mental models to deal with work like this. When knowledge workers talk of their job as producing something, they usually refer to the report they’ve written or spreadsheet they’ve filled in, rather than talking about their work as creating new knowledge.
To create new knowledge you have to learn. You have to learn new information, learn ways to analyse and synthesise, learn ways to communicate. This is what knowledge workers really do. They learn.
So, the side-projects I work on are vaguely centred around some of these ideas about what learning means as a knowledge worker. Not just pedagogical learning of information and techniques to do a job, but learning as a job.