Is an Organisation’s knowledge system like a washing machine?

As I search the literature for Project Management Lessons Learned, I often find some interesting reading material. I came across the following transformational learning discussion (cited by Schieg (2009)) noting that although we desire for divergent and new organisation knowledge, in reality it is not likely to happen. Blackman and Henderson (2001) describes the analogy of a washing machine:

   ‘If the clothes are to be really clean (attainment of new knowledge) and not reflect previous dirt (experiences) then all the water must be drained out of the system before new water is put in. Even if only a little dirty water remains it will taint the entire rinse. The learning organisation routines discussed in this paper define residual dirt as clean, or at least acceptably so. However, if the system is closed it will never be possible to get really clean water and so real new knowledge will be unattainable. Some incremental development may occur but transformation seems very unlikely.’

Interesting material, let us know what you think.

Regards, Stephen


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