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Based on blogposts D18 (“Teaching versus Facilitating Learning”) and D19(“Debate versus Discussion versus Dialogue”), here are some practical hints for learning workshop facilitators (numbers below refer to the four stages to generative dialogue in D19):
In a debate the purposes are usually:
Dialogue requires the following:
Dialogue can lead to:
Here are the four stages to Generative Dialogue adapted from William Isaacs’ book “Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together”:
According to Chris Argyris and Donald Schon, who originated the terms, “single-loop learning” is correcting an action to solve or avoid a mistake, while “double-loop learning” is correcting also the underlying causes behind the problematic action. Underlying causes may be an organization’s norms and policies, individuals’ motives and assumptions, and informal and ingrained practices that block inquiry on these causes. Double-loop learning requires the skills of self-awareness and self-management, and the willingness to candidly inquire into why what went wrong did so, without sliding into defensiveness, blaming others, making excuses, trying to be “nice and positive” to each other, protecting each other’s egos, and other automatic or unconscious patterns of behavior that block honest feedback, inquiry and learning. Single-loop learning looks at technical or external causes; double-loop learning also looks at cultural, personal or internal causes.
A sample problem: delays in completion of work.
Sample questions that lead to single-loop learning:
Sample questions that lead to double-loop learning:
Double-loop learning requires three skills: self-awareness to recognize what is often unconscious or habitual, honesty or candor to admit mistakes and discuss with colleagues to discover and validate causes, and taking responsibility to act appropriately on what is learned. According to Argyris, “today, facing competitive pressures an earlier generation could hardly have imagined…leaders and subordinates alike…must all begin struggling with a new level of self-awareness, candor, and responsibility” (from Argyris: Good Communication that Blocks Learning, in: Harvard Business Review on Organizational Learning, 1994).
Footnote: read what I wrote more recently on this topic: “Practicing internal watchfulness (hint #11)”
Bettina von Stamm of the Innovation Leadership Forum, together with Anna Trifilova of the Nizhny Novgorod Architecture and Civil Engineering State University, in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, invited me to contribute to a book on “Future of Innovation.” The book will be launched at the ISPIM (International Society for Professional Innovation Management) Conference to be held in Vienna, Austria on 21-24 June 2009. The conference theme is also “Future of Innovation.”
Here is what I wrote:
Innovation in the future will be driven by common threats confronting mankind. Ironically, most of those threats are man-made. Innovation will proceed in the general direction of preventing and resolving conflicts, governance at all levels, advancing human rights and human security, cross-border agreements in preventing and fighting crime and terrorism, eliminating social exclusions and other social ills that lead to poverty, generating consensus on environmental problems and solutions, and value creation.
Innovations in value creation, either for the commercial sector or for the social or development sector, will be important in redefining and advancing wealth creation for all. Wealth creation in the new global economy has been less and less through extraction and processing of natural resources and more and more through application of human knowledge and creativity. Both pursuit of corporate profits as well as nurturing community or social development have been found to be dependent more on knowledge and other intangibles such as social and cultural capital, and less on tangible assets and infrastructures. Now and in the future, we can expect that creating and managing knowledge and other intangible assets, personal and organizational learning, and facilitating innovation itself, are playing greater roles. Innovations will move from the physical hardware and software types to also embrace the biological-ecological, behavioral, organizational, network-social, legal-legislative and symbolic-representational types.
Development itself is being redefined. Pursuit of peace, including the use of new international sanctions to support local application of violent modes to secure long-term planetary peace, is also being redefined. As humankind’s only home planet gets more crowded and problematic, we are forced into a common journey of learning how to live together and how to creatively convert our ethnic, religious and political diversity from a disadvantage to an advantage.
Mankind’s capacity to innovate will need to be focused on questions of “what for” and “for whom.” It will have to revolve more around finding new and better questions, than on finding correct answers to old questions. I anticipate more innovations in how people recognize and manage their own mental boxes and judgments, and how people can perform this reflective process through open dialogue within a diverse group. I sense a future where innovations will give mankind a better capacity to reflect and learn together as a group, and therefore co-create a consensus on how they can more effectively address problems they face as a group.
Bettina’s comment: “Many thanks for your contribution. We enjoyed reading it, this is really from your heart, as we are looking for! Very nice indeed!”
Let us celebrate this Day by –
> Sending quietly a loving thought to one person you don’t like, or
> Giving something that will bring a smile on the face of a complete stranger, or
> Admiring afresh the beauty and purpose of something small you see and take for granted every day, or
> When you enjoy a delicious meal with meat, egg or fish, saying quietly “thank you” to the animal who died that you may live, or
> Catching yourself thinking of a limiting, unfair or untested belief about someone close to you, or
> Asking yourself “what did I learn?” after every painful or uncomfortable experience, AND
> Continuing those little celebrations every day after December 25.
In connection with the previous post on “Best Practice versus Next Practice”, when you perform a Lessons-Learned Session (other KM practitioners call it “After-Action Review” or “Post-Mortem” etc.), there are two important trigger questions:
1. What worked well?
The answers to this question leads to useful knowledge that can be re-used in similar activities: work templates, approaches, tools, directories, checklists, etc. If something worked exceptionally well, then it is a candidate for best practice (or call it “good practice” if you have no comparative metrics to prove it is “best”).
2. What did not work and why?
Many teams find it difficult to address this question, and some people with personal issues will habitually shift to justifications, blaming others, excuses and all other sorts of unproductive defensive reactions that will prevent the team from understanding why what went wrong did so. BUT, if a team can develop the culture of trust, continuous improvement and constructive inquiry (instead of “witch hunting” or “blame game” or “taking things personally”), the question “What did not work and why?” can lead to improvement and innovation of NEXT practice!
If this happens, the obverse KM question “What did not work and why?” will prove superior to the KM question “What worked well?”. See my previous post on “Cost of Ignorance” on what is the meaning of “obverse knowledge management.”
The KM tool of transfer of best practice is NOT the best! Why?
Transfer of best practice means –
Innovating NEXT practice means –
According to Jesper Kunde, author of “Corporate Religion: Building a Strong Company through Personality and Corporate Soul”, “Companies have defined so much ‘best practice’ that they are now more or less identical”
Management guru Peter Drucker said that “…the major task in society and especially in the economy… [is] doing something different rather than doing better what is already being done.”