Leonardo Award
Alexander R. Petsch

Corporate Learning – Employees’ knowledge is the crucial factor for the success of any organization. Those who ask the right questions will be successful in the future.

What are these questions?

How can we continue to develop employees’ knowledge in businesses and organizations?
How can we make knowledge management one of our core competencies?
And how can we use this to develop our competitiveness at the European level as well?

There are many good and important questions that we encounter here at this trade show at the booths, lectures, and during the conference.

In many personal talks, I experience that there are people especially in the area of human resource management who really want to change things. People who are firmly convinced that employees determine the success of an organization. Corporate Learning is an important key to success.

But we also experience another discourse – when it comes to life-long learning, the public discourse and political commitment are limited to the areas:

  • Kindergarten
  • School
  • Higher education
  • and at most, learning for senior citizens

The 38 years of work in between are missing!

The discussions center primarily on names of Italian cities such as PISA and Bologna. Europe needs a new dimension here, a discourse that makes the 38 years of work the focus of life-long learning.

Corporate Learning needs attention.

The Leonardo award – the European Corporate Learning Award aims at generating this attention and stimulating the discourse. We must link this discourse with the other areas of learning.

If we learned any lesson from the latest financial and economic crisis, then it would be that not everyone has learned his lesson.
It is indeed surprising that in many sectors – and not only in banks – behavioral patterns, decision pathways, and insights from the crisis are ignored and even shoved aside. Günter Szogs, secretary of the “Leonardo Award” coined the term “subprime knowledge” in reference to the subprime crisis.

This expresses that the quality of the knowledge of many who were in part responsible for the crisis indeed was no better than the quality of the toxic bonds they put into circulation. And this was the case although these people are among the best-educated experts of our society. This makes it clear that business knowledge must be viewed only in the interaction with social knowledge.

Business knowledge can be understood only as a part of social knowledge.

Let’s have another look at what this policy has brought us. The Lisbon agenda was to have made Europe the most competitive knowledge society in the world (BEAT) – but this success did not materialize.

We are dismayed at the lack of qualifications of applicants who want to start working with us after completing schooling.
We regret the lack of political resolve and are simultaneously overwhelmed by demographic changes and the resulting lack of qualified personnel.

All of this should spur those of us involved in Corporate Learning to move learning and knowledge to the top of our business agenda.

We need the circumspect cooperation of all involved.

Back in 1996, the UNESCO under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Jacques Delors addressed this topic and identified four dimensions of learning:

Learning to do
Learning to know
Learning to live together, and
Learning to be

These insights form the basis for the European Lifelong Learning Index “Elli” developed in 2010 – for many leading education experts, “Elli” is already the successor to the name of a city in Italy.

Jacques Delors’ four dimensions of learning are the core of our European DNA:

“Learning to know” – the ability to acquire and increase knowledge.

“Learning to do” – the ability to act and achieve goals through training and education. This can be successful – and this was proven by the discussion on integration of recent weeks – only through

“Learning to live together” – with the realization that differences complement each other and monocultures do not lead to best results.
“Learning to be” – meaning that successfully combining these three dimensions of learning develops trust and self-confidence, good judgment and the ability to shape one’s life.

I am very moved and pleased that we are today awarding the first European Corporate Learning Award to the father of this valuable and inspiring European concept.

More than 20 years ago he described the vision of the four dimensions of learning as “treasures within”. This is the foundation of a European knowledge society.

For his visionary approach and for his dedication to an open European knowledge society, we would like to honor him today as the first recipient of the Leonardo award.

Those who ask the right questions will be successful in the future. I now have the honor of welcoming a person to the stage who has asked many important questions all his life. He had the opportunity to discuss many of these questions with his friend Jacques Delors. It is therefore a special pleasure for us to welcome him to speak on behalf of the award winner.