Intro: Robin Brooker

Robin Brooker (
Sat, 22 Oct 94 16:46 BST-1

I feel a bit of an interloper here. I don't work for the UN but work
from home as a Freelance Computer Journalist (home is a small house in
the Pennines in the UK). My interest in learning organisations is
mostly through computer software I have reviewed and books I have read.
My keen interest is in software that assists thinking.

I used to work in the School of Architecture at Thames Polytechnic (now
Greenwich University) and looking back that could best be described as a
learning learning organisation. I have great admiration for the school.
Most of the staff were constantly striving to learn new things and to
learn how to do things better. Students were taught that learning was a
two-way street where the academics gave freely of their knowledge and
experience while the students were expected to bring their own learning
to the class. But it didn't stop at the classroom. All students and
staff participated. Students discussed their work with all - from the
ladies who cleaned the rooms to Heads of School and Deans of Faculty.
It was an electric atmosphere: a joy to work but thoroughly draining,
both mentally and physically.

The thirst for learning has stayed with me. Now, as a reviewer and
feature writer I have to learn complex software, sometimes dealing with
concepts that are new to me, over a very short time-span. Excluding
software manuals, which are dipped into more than read, I read an average
of three books per week just to keep up with the things I believe I need
to know.

One of the things most organisations have to take on board is that just
because the old ways worked fine in the past it doesn't mean they are set
in stone. A friend who runs his own small business has listened to my
rantings. He now shuts himself away for one hour every week to do some
deep thinking about how he can change things within his business to make
it better. And, he does it on a regular basis. His turnover is up 20%
on the same period a year ago and it is achieved with less effort.