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Group thinking, many minds make projects work

Groups and institutions can magnify and accelerate the development of knowledge far beyond what an individual would be capable of. Interaction in groups is critical to this knowledge creation.

With the advent of technology, distance is no longer the great limiter it once was, with groups now able to exchange ideas and network freely. Its also easier to store and search archives, turning them into active libraries.

Organisations can harvest this knowledge by ensuring certain types of discussion are encouraged and recorded.

Ensuring the free flow of information through an institution and between separate projects needs more than meetings. This is especially true in large institutions where individual departments can become marginalised silos. Even with intranets and people directories, knowing the right person to speak to can sometimes be a challenge.

Presentations where different departments outline their projects offer great opportunities for colleagues to learn how the institution operates as a whole. It can also be the basis for future interdepartmental collaborations.

Successful learning institutions do more than merely record and transmit information. They ensure their members' diverse patterns of thinking are nurtured. Mentoring as well as training is one way that organisations can facilitate institutional change.

It is also important that the institution absorbs and implements these lessons. There should be structures in place to allow beneficial changes to be implemented and these should enable and encourage practitioners to take collective responsibility for managing the knowledge areas they use.

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  1. Judy Payne
    Judy Payne 03 March 2014, 11:20 AM

    Hi Claire and Martin.What I really like about this blog post is the way Claire encourages people from diverse backgrounds to share ideas. When this is done using technology, it becomes easy to record conversations and to search them - and of course for others to join in.The big plus point for me is that technology can open up channels of communication that otherwise might not exist - even when people work for the same organisation.Claire, can you give us some examples from your own experience of how this has led to beneficial organisational change? 

  2. Martin Fisher
    Martin Fisher 28 February 2014, 05:17 PM

    Thanks for this interesting post, Claire.Its certainly chimes with a lot of the work that I'm trying to get off the ground and/or maintain within my organisation.For instance, I am encouraging presentations from our project teams (to awaken the rest of the company to new initiatives and draw out hitherto unseen connections), with a corresponding 'projet profile' article published on our intranet.  And a 'profile' of a project, at whatever stage of completion, would typically and very usefully include some kind of 'lessons', brought to life and described in context, rather than simply being consigned to a folder or database...It would be great for readers of this to share some more detailed examples of the kind of acceleration etc that you mention, and I can envisage - and see being very effective - a complementary 'patchwork' of a number of these approaches.I'd be really interested to hear about experiences that any of you has of what has made for good combinations of these kinds of activity -What are effective ways to record discussions?How have you encouraged them? Does one approach complement another? Does any (e.g. mentoring?) suit one type of project environment and not another?I'm also keen to understand, Claire, what could be useful ways of nurturing diverse patterms of thinking.Can anyone bring some experience to this discussion?Martin