The first Corporate Academies were set up in the United States in the thirties and developed within companies for the entire 20th century. On the Old Continent, Corporate Academies found it difficult to get a foothold and, while there are more than 4000 in the United States, there are only 200 in Europe.
In Italy, needless to say, it wasn’t until the year 2001 that ENI created the first. All large companies have one and many SMBs, despite coming up against enormous difficulties that can easily be imagined (of which the budget is certainly not the least important), are trying to equip themselves with a structure that can be defined as such. One may well ask, however, if, in the digital era, it still makes sense to talk about Corporate Academies and, above all, if there is any reason for making exclusive reference to classical training (technical or safety training).
Over the past few years, we have witnessed a change on the job market due to the advent of industry 4.0, the true industry, not that of public finance and super-depreciation, which obliged the Academies to become the indispensable substrate on which to cultivate the “culture of culture”. A world in which knowledge of the physical manufacturing process is analysed as a whole and in depth without forgetting its human, psychological and philosophical meaning.
The following question is raised almost spontaneously: what develops from the mixture of the old-style Academy and the widespread knowledge that is now encoded in series of 1s and 0s?
These two parents, one physical and the other virtual, give birth to a really strange and fascinating hybrid, a creature that, until about twenty years ago, was almost unconceivable and whoever talked about it was considered an heir of Cassandra, the Trojan priestess hated by everyone and believed to be mad because of her gift of prophecy.
The creature that nobody imagined could ever exist is called learning organization.
The Corporate Academy becomes not only a place where culture is used but also where it is produced. A mine of new ideas that often appears alongside the physical source where “the part” that comes off the production line is not only fruit of manual ability but also the fruit of a long research process.
The Academy thus becomes a physical place where the company’s most precious asset is produced: the culture that makes the company great. A business unit to all effects where the active participation of people prevails and it could not be otherwise. A place where the term human capital has a practical, concrete meaning, not psychological and intangible as they have always led us to believe, where heretics of knowledge often subvert the rules of organizational status quo, managers with a more dated mentality or bound to the formal role, so accustomed to their office that they often view any novelty with suspicion and diffidence.
A diffidence generated by the arrogance of “knowing it all already”, which forces them towards a decline through obsolescence to which they often also condemn their companies.