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Generative learning for continuous improvement

Featured in the Knowledge Management training manual

By Mike Bagshaw & Paul Phillips

Category: Management

Credit price: 3 download credits (Single user)

The focus of Chris Argyris’s double-loop learning theory (1977) is on solving complex problems by changing underlying values and assumptions. Usually when we encounter new data or experiences, we learn to alter behaviour and experience, but we do not question our assumptions and beliefs concerning the data. This is termed as single-loop learning. Double-loop learning occurs when we encounter new data, go through an additional process of reframing assumptions and beliefs, and then create new behaviours. Knowledge (especially tacit knowledge) is necessary for good practices. However, simply mastering received knowledge is not sufficient for effectiveness. Argyris and Schon (1996) demonstrated that people often use formal or external knowledge to develop theories for rationalising and explaining their actions. These are called espoused theories which can differ significantly from theories implicit in those actions (the theories-in use). Theoretical knowledge often seems to have little bearing on practice.

You begin this training activity with two team exercises to demonstrate the power of double-loop learning. This is followed with a presentation and discussion of the theory. You lead a further group exercise to identify blocks to deeper double-loop learning. Finally, you summarise the key points and run a learning review session to conclude the training activity.

Who is it for: This training resource is intended for use by trainers to help develop knowledge about mental models or governing variables to allow participants to question underlying thinking, process and behaviours.

Resource Type:Activity
Min Group Size:4
Max Group Size:12
Typical Duration:02:40:00
No of Pages:13

Resources: View standard resources for Fenman training activities
Additional resources: Large supply of coloured sticky dots.

Purpose: This training resource can be used on problem-solving programmes, for project teams, managing change programmes and team work programmes.

Download the training activity, Generative learning for continuous improvement as featured in the Fenman training manual; Knowledge Management