Studio Theolin
A design studio specialising in events and experiences promoting human interaction and serendipitous moments.


A Learning Organisation

From my In-house Day deck

For CAP&Design’s In-house Day Conference 2018, I decided to focus my attention on Learning Organisations, and provide the audience, all in-house workers, with some tools to map out how they manage, organise and create knowledge.

The journey started with a phone call to Fredrik Hallberg, a management consultant I like very much. I have booked Fredrik to speak both at Hyper Island and Berghs, and he is a big inspiration. We spoke for about an hour about the subject A Learning Organisation, and he pointed me in the direction of Ikujiro Nonaka and The Knowledge-Creating Company.

We also discussed Julian Orr and his work he did at Xerox, which you can deep-dive into in the article Organizing Knowledge by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid. The conclusion of our chat, was that this is nothing new. There has just been a series of developments and iterations to why it’s now on the tip of many tongues.

During the time leading up to the talk, I also had conversations with some of my MA Hyper Island alumni, and other companies on how they work with learning and knowledge. The examples they gave me proved that you can do a lot with very little.

I was on the right path.

I will start this blog post summarising the talk (which was in Swedish) in English, followed by the two Canvases I developed inspired by Nonaka’s The Knowledge Spiral and NHS Knowledge in the UK.

I call these two canvases: Organisation Knowledge Canvas (BETA) and Knowledge Map (BETA)

From my In-house Day deck

From my In-house Day deck

From my In-house Day deck

14,000 combinations

At the Holborn Dining Company in London, there are 14,000 variants of Gin & Tonic based on their 500 options of Gin.


Let that sink in for a minute.

What this tells me, is that they really know their Gin. Pretty impressive.

From my In-house Day deck

From my In-house Day deck

All organisations are already Knowledge Companies

Your knowledge is the most valuable asset in the building. And one way to maintain this competitive advantage is to manage, organise and create more of it.

Looking at the analogy of innovation as mixology (it’s not that far-fetched), all organisations need a process to mix their own perfect serve. And I believe, this competence exists (or should exist) in-house. In order to work your magic with the ingredients you have, you may however need the right tools and know-how.

Below Pete Senge, MIT Senior Lecturer explains what Organisational Learning is. I suggest you listen to at least the first part.

From my In-house Day deck

From my In-house Day deck

Knowledge is social

Your organisation is alive. It is made up of predominantly living, breathing, hard-working people.

As with Ikujiro Nonaka and many other working in this field, I too believe that knowledge is social. Julian Orr explains this in his study with the technicians at XEROX.

Whilst they were grappling with upper management about using/not using the pre-designed manuals for fixing technical problems, they actually solved most things by talking with each other, testing different techniques and sharing trouble-shooting processes.

From my In-house Day deck

From my In-house Day deck

In order for me to create this keynote, I had a few new things to learn myself. And as an education addict, I started with talking to a lot of people. Conversations about perspective, different industries and types of companies. As any project with an element of learning, it’s justified by The Learning Pyramid (below) that we do learn the most together.

From my In-house Day deck

From my In-house Day deck

So how can you become a more efficient Learning Organisation?

Knowledge Management is one of the answers.

From my In-house Day deck

From my In-house Day deck

Based on the Nonaka’s model The Knowledge Spiral which features heavily in his book The Knowledge-Creating Company, I have drawn up a Canvas version for you to use to determine areas of improvement. The Knowledge Spiral is a model for knowledge creation by the integration of tacit and explicit knowledge; the Know-what and the Know-how.

From my In-house Day deck

From my In-house Day deck

Organisation Knowledge Canvas (BETA)

This canvas is based on Nonaka’s The Knowledge Spiral

  1. Socialisation: Face-to-face | Share Experiences | Formal & Informal

  2. Externalisation: Peer-to-peer | Documenting | Publishing | Ideas Workshops

  3. Combination: Group-to-group | Synthesis | Adding, Combining & Categorising

  4. Internalisation: Individual | Reflection | Learning by doing

If you’d like to do a BETA test, contact me and I will run you through the theory behind it, as well as help you use it.

BETA Organisation Knowledge Canvas Studio Theolin.jpg

Knowledge Map (BETA)

I also created a canvas based on NHS Knowledge and the questions they ask around working with knowledge. By starting here, you can quickly see what you have to work with!

  1. How do we capture knowledge? What have we missed?

  2. How do we organise knowledge? Is it easy accessible?

  3. How is knowledge used? What’s in place to ground decisions in evidence where you work?

  4. How is knowledge shared?Are all staff willing to be open with another?

From my In-house Day deck

From my In-house Day deck

Jenny TheolinComment