People Management: Establishing a Learning Community

The “scout group” of young apprentices that Comino brought into Krisson became not only a family but also a learning community. Everyone felt they belonged, there was a sense of community and shared values, productivity was achieved through people, and the whole work force felt close to the customer. Above all, though, it was a learning community in that everyone learned and developed together, as managers, as businessmen, and as human beings.

The challenge that the company has since faced is that of maintaining and developing a learning community, suitably reformed, within the larger-scale Dexion. Such a community would need to emerge out of the broadly based vision of the Dexion Group in the context of Europe in the 1990s, and subsequent to an American takeover.

The takeover followed a period of severe recession, exacerbated by a prolonged steel strike and a three-day working week. It may also be seen as a result of the relatively weak managerial and financial control exercised through Dexion's early life. A change of management regime and waves of redundancies made sharp inroads into “family life.” At the same time Comino's move into the background weakened the force of the “learning” side of the Dexion community, for his learning principles and practices had never been formally codified within the company. Nevertheless, the family influence, so strong in the formative years, and the original shared values, continued to exert ...

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