Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Finally, A Routine

I think I'm finally settling into a workable routine here. Write in my blog one day, read and interact with student blogs the next. Part of today's blog is an extension of the class discussion on knowledge. But instead of writing it directly into today's blog, it fit better as a response to Rebecca's blog:

Most students in our class have chosen to write blogs rather than conventional journals. Each has their advantages as a genre. Here are the rest of the addresses: check out what your fellow students have done--check out the comments, or make a comment of your own!

I now want to turn to my own professional writing projects. After much thinking, I have decided that the article for UC Santa Barbara I previously discussed is probably not the best subject for this blog. Why? Because it's a project already written in the draft stage. So I will select another idea, an idea that is nagging on my mind. Those students who have taken my W331 class in Business Report Writing (Chad, Jason), or are taking it now (Devon, Rebecca), are aware of my interest in the "organizational learning" movement. The kernel of my interest comes from a quote from Management Guru Peter Drucker, now in his 90s and still writing, who states that the "key questions of the knowledge worker and of the knowledge-worker's productivity will, within a few decades, bring about fundamental changes in the very structure and nature of the economic system" (94). I believe those changes are already beginning to emerge through the organizational learning movement, as more corporations, particularly knowledge-based corporations such as Google, are moving to corporate structures which are less hierarchical and controlling, and more decentralized and focused on empowering their knowledge workers.

In investigating this issue, I ask my students in W331 to read Senge's The Fifth Discipline, one of the foundational texts of the organizational learning movement, and I ask them to consider this question: what would writing practices look like in a learning organization? Since the "learning organization" is in many ways a "business utopia," I am asking them to imagine what those practices might be. Why is this question important to me? As a teacher of business writing, I believe that the business writing genres, like all genres, both constrain and empower writers. These genres have been defined and created by business practice and business structures, but they also act upon those business practices and business structures. I guess you could say that I believe that writing can be both a signal and an agent for the kind of structural change that Drucker talks about!

Works Cited:

Drucker, Peter. "Knowledge-Worker Productivity: The Biggest Challenge." California Management Review 41:2 (Winter 1999): 79-94.

Senge, Peter. The Fifth Discipline. New York: Currency, 1990.


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