Underlying Rationales fOR Learning at Work

A key mission of learning at work is to expose control centre operators to an open, fun, and stimulating environment of learning and creativity. While this is intended to be an enjoyable environment, it is also very demanding on both the individuals and the group. The content and structure of any work initiative relating to learning at work is to ensure that operators will be inspired, encouraged, and feel empowered to explore the passion of discovering their own potentials. The learning environment will be a reflection of an environment to excel in creativity and innovation.

The main means of a learning environment is through action learning in project teams. The operators will need to be exposed to different methods and techniques to stimulate creativity and innovation. In this way, they will get insights into how to exploit new ideas and innovations and turn these into successful business opportuni­ties. Professor Emeritus Goran Ekvall from Lund University in Sweden has carried out decades of research on creativity and organisational climate (see, for example, Ekvall, 1997, 2000). In a journal article, Ekvall (1997) identified ten dimensions of organisational climate that influence organisational creativity:

• Challenge

• Freedom

• Idea time

• Dynamics

• Ideas support

• Trust and openness

• Playfulness and humour

• Conflicts

• Debates

• Risk-taking

Ivergard and Hunt evaluated an organisation based on these factors and con­cluded that organisations with high productivity also have a better organisational climate (see Hunt and Ivergard, 2007).

11.4 SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

In our introductory overview we discussed how nations need to be creative as a way of ensuring investment in their future. Individuals too need to feel they have opportunities to develop and grow. After all, the collective activities of individuals form the backbone that supports the development of a good society. The creativity and innovations of individuals provide a foundation for national development. Com­panies, governments, and international nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) play important roles in establishing high-ceiling environments in which creativity and innovation can flourish. In high-ceiling environments people feel able to realise their dreams and achieve their potential.

In organisations that emphasise creativity and innovation, the prevailing work environment is an important feature of the workspace. Sensitive managements aim to create an environment where routine practices encourage individuals to develop new ways of thinking and acting. A critical task for management is therefore to establish such an environment and to encourage workers to engage in creativity and innovation. This is best done through example and a commitment to ‘walking the talk’, that is, putting into practice the message from management. To encourage such an environment, managers should allow employees freedoms of thought and action. This includes setting expectations that do not insist on existing paradigms. Outside – the-box thinking can then become an accepted part of workplace behaviour. In such high-ceiling environments, errors are tolerated as it is recognised that errors are a positive result of experimentation. When their employees make errors, managers in high-ceiling workplaces find ways to reward rather than punish. The new generation of control centres envisages the creation of such an environment as a way of encour­aging participants to change their worldview and free their creative passions.