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Savoir-apprendre, savoir-faire

A book discussing the meaning of knowledge and skills in business and in society

Learning, then doing. Not just theory, but theory and immediate practical application. Combining knowledge with experience is established as a good thing, and yet it is still far from widespread practice in concrete applications. This applies to all areas in which training and learning have – or should have – some form of impact on operations. In the broadest sense, then, it is a matter of culture. This issue applies to many areas of society, including those most closely focused on manufacturing, among others.

Pietro Fiorentino reflects upon these themes in his work La fabbrica delle competenze. Cultura ed esperienza per far ripartire la crescita (‘The skills factory: culture and experience as a driver for new growth’), published a few weeks ago.

The author deals with a complex theme which has a host of implications. At the beginning, he offers the following explanation: ‘If learning is at the heart of manufacturing activities, skill is the result of these activities, honed in an imaginary “factory” where the raw material par excellence, grey matter, is transformed during production/learning, thanks to the fusion of knowledge and experience.’ The manufacture of learning is a long journey, and one which eventually leads to the development of skill, and thus to opportunities for development and growth for individuals and the systems within which they operate. This journey, as Fiorentino explains, is made up of many different milestones, each of which helps build of our skills, from imaginative play with a range of stimuli at a tender age, through to school and university education, which guides us and combines with our first youthful impulses, then onto the world of work, which is responsible for producing the majority of these skills, and which has an effect on our relationships, and finally to the innovation that now defines our every-day actions.

The core of all of this is both fascinating and disturbing; the quest for a complete education is much more complex today than it was in the past, and it is a quest that never ends. But connecting knowledge and skills is one of the biggest challenges that we face in the future.

Accordingly, Fiorentino guides the reader through a series of in-depth studies that begin with an analysis of the relationship between knowledge and practice (with a particular focus on the situation in Italy), before moving on to look at the nature and role of leaders, after which he turns his attention to the future that awaits Italy, outlining a potential strategy (involving training) that could lead to the creation of a new and different ‘ruling class’ with the capacity to act on several levels, and to restore development and growth to the country.

Pietro Fiorentino’s book must be read carefully; it is not an easy story, but it gives shape to a collection of theories that can enable us to better understand what really needs to be done.

It also includes a great quote from Leonardo da Vinci at the beginning: ‘Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.’

 

La fabbrica delle competenze. Cultura ed esperienza per far ripartire la crescita
Pietro Fiorentino
LUISS University Press, 2019