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There is a growing tendency for learning in the workplace to be seen as a managerial function rather than as the responsibility of educationalists As managers prepare to take a more active role in facilitating professional education, they need to consider the extent to which their organizational arrangements help or hinder the learning of professional skills There is a potential risk that the development of important clinical practice skills may be inadvertently overlooked, because of the kind of organizational arrangements in force This paper outlines alternative approaches to organizational development, explaining the basis for implementing ‘holographic principles’ when planning a system A situational analysis earned out in an inner-city community provider unit revealed an alternative, more directive and fragmented arrangement The analysis is used to illustrate how a focus on developing the organization as a learning environment during periods of rapid and multiple change can also help to promote clinical nursing skills