Posts Tagged ‘learning-by-doing’

L25 -12 Types of Learning, Part 2

September 7, 2009

Collaborative learning is a strong incentive towards inter-communication within a group. This is the incentive behind the rapid growth of inter-communication among:

  • Scientific researchers in numerous disciplines
  • R&D teams in innovative corporations
  • Professional associations
  • Guilds among craftsmen, artisans and artists.

Last Thursday in Bangkok, as part of a 3-day KM training program for UNISDR, UN ESCAP and various international and regional non-governmental organizations, I asked participants to “Estimate what percent of your total knowledge now came from your formal education/training?” The participants were international development professionals, and many of them have had KM experiences.

The average answer was only 15-20%. We observed that we learn from work and from life much more than we learn from school, yet we devote MUCH LESS resources, planning, tools/technologies and systems/institutions to get the 80-85% than we do to get the 15-20% from school! We are missing out on something important here. What is it?

For learning from work, we need tools and technologies of Organizational Learning.

I also asked the participants to write down their answers to the question “How Do I Learn?” The 84 answers were clustered. The two biggest clusters that emerged were: (1) learning from work or learning by doing or practice, with 21 answers, and (2) learning by interaction with others, with 18 answers. If so, the next question then is, what is the technology (and art?) of collaborative learning?

This is where Indigo Learning Practices come in.

In a previous blog post, I proposed a way to classify and clarify how we learn (see “12 Types of Learning”). The “12 Types of Learning” follow naturally from the simple KM framework developed in the earlier F Series of blogs, with the addition of Experience as a prior factor in the causal chain:

Experience -> Knowledge -> Action -> Results
E -> K -> A -> R

In short, learning happens when we individually or collaboratively examine and communicate what happens across these four elements.

12 ways we learn

Here is a short summary of the Twelve Types of Learning. The numbers refer to Person 1 and Person 2 who are engaged in communication for the common purpose of learning. The KM framework provides a way of seeing and understanding how knowledge flows between two people. Because Beliefs and Values also affect Action and are also affected by Experience, I place these two items with Knowledge. For similar reasons, I place Statements with Action. The causal chain then is: Experience -> Knowledge/Beliefs/Values -> Action/Statement -> Results.

  1. Type 1: Comparing notes to learn what works better (R1 and R2)
  2. Type 2: Communal validation and reframing is the type of learning powerfully demonstrated by the scientific method (R modifying K and E). It consists of a group of practitioners testing and revising knowledge and reframing beliefs against what works.
  3. Type 3: Reflective practice, where a practitioner does “conscious learning by doing” (individual study of K -> A -> R)
  4. Type 4: Presentation and discussions (S1, S2)
  5. Type 5: Criticism, praise or passing judgment on another (K1 or V1 applied to A2 or S2)
  6. Type 6: Debate is a two-way exchange of Types 4 and 5
  7. Type 7: Learning from exemplars, models, benchmarks or best practices (A1 or S1 leading to K2)
  8. Type 8: Learning through study of each other’s assumptions, mental models (mutual study of each other’s K, B or V)
  9. Type 9: Conscious living or study of one’s assumptions or beliefs in relation to one’s experiences (individual or group study of E -> K and new K reframing E)
  10. Type 10: Storytelling and story listening, or knowledge from others’ experiences (E1 leading to K2)
  11. Type 11: Insight or intuition (birth of new K through ill-understood internal processes)
  12. Type 12: Generative dialogue is productive communication that combines Types 8-11.

From my experience, Type 5 learning happens mostly if one person (the one exercising value judgments) has more power than the other person. Between equals, Type 5 easily leads to Type 6 but learning happens with difficulty in both cases.

Learning is more likely when members of a communicating group practice skills in Types 8-12. To me, the most powerful skills are story listening and generative dialogue. The set of Indigo Learning Practices is a contribution towards the systematization of technologies of collaborative learning.

“The shortest distance between a human being and truth is a story.” – Anthony de Mello



Note that there are embedded links in this blog post. They show up as colored text. While pressing “Ctrl” click on any link to create a new tab to reach the webpages pointed to.

=>Back to main page of Apin Talisayon’s Weblog
=>Jump to Clickable Master Index


Knowledge Pathways: 3 Case Studies (Practical Hint #22)

May 11, 2009

Please first review the previous blog on “Knowledge pathways in a learning organization.” The following three case studies are drawn from our KM consulting experiences at CCLFI.

Case Study 1. These are the new knowledge pathways resulting from the KM initiatives of a big government ministry/department:

pathways 1

The characteristics of this organization’s KM initiatives are as follows:

  • Membership of the cross-functional KM Team is drawn from about 20 functional units.
  • The KM team was involved in the KM audit, KM strategy formulation and KM action planning activities.
  • Nurturing of the KM Team took the form of KM training using experiential exercises and KM mentoring as the team members “learn KM by doing KM.” Their practice projects are various web-based KM toolkits.
  • The KM Team launched a wiki to reconstruct the KM history of their department, the first Philippine department to formally set up a KM unit in 2001.
  • The KM Team practiced in documenting a sample business process (procedures to be followed by a retiring staff) and placed their output in the department intranet.

Actual feedbacks from KM Team members:

    “I am more confident now to promote KM in [my unit]; being equipped with all ideas from the KM meetings and workshop.”

    “[I learned] that I love my work more – because of the KM challenge. Would like to see this work and take part in its success.”

    “KM also responds to the heart of the worker by way of interaction, collegiality and peer learning. To me this is a very holistic approach in the development of the person/worker.”

Case Study 2. These are the new knowledge pathways resulting from the KM initiatives of a government regulatory agency:

pathways 2

The characteristics of this organization’s KM initiatives are as follows:

  • A KM Team was set up consisting of a Process Sub-Team, a Technology Sub-Team and a People Sub-Team.
  • KM training was through workshops that use adult experiential learning processes.
  • The central KM initiative is mentoring of the KM Team in setting up their intranet and organizing/uploading content.
  • The next activity was mentoring the KM Team in documenting and automating a business process through their new intranet.

Actual feedbacks from KM Team members:

    “The development of the Intranet was a very challenging activity. To be able to put all the information and knowledge in a one-stop shop for the benefit of the organization is just a great achievement.”

    “What I like is the part where we are actually doing the hands-on, applying what we have learned from the lectures”

    “The development of the Intranet system gave me freedom to speak my mind by contributing some articles for uploading at the Intranet”

Case Study 3: These are the new knowledge pathways resulting from the KM initiatives of a multi-sectoral organization consisting of representatives from the national and local governments, local community organizations and non-government organizations, and private sector. The red arrows show where and how tacit knowledge is increased through practice.

pathways 3

The characteristics of this organization’s KM initiatives are as follows:

  • Their biggest problem is high turnover of membership resulting in constant loss of knowledge and long learning curves of new members.
  • The solution was (a) training in team learning including convening Lessons-Learned Meetings or LLM to elicit and document what works well in existing procedures and (b) compilation of administrative and technical documentations into a “Learning-Oriented Systems Manual.”
  • A subset of the Manual was used for briefing of new members.
  • The executive committee adopted a new vision: “to become a living, learning organization.”
  • LLM was adopted as an organizational habit: “what worked well” and “what did not work” was answered and documented at the end of every activity: meetings, field operations, etc.

Actual feedbacks from the members:

    “I learned that learning can be tremendously fun… the atmosphere becomes conducive if you have fun while learning.”

    “The process, the flow, the sequence of events were very well placed and very appropriate that even the games brought us to higher levels of interaction.”

    “Here, we are taught to take notice of those that are not usually taken notice of in the ordinary course of thinking.”

    “I passed through the `unlearning’ stage, then the `learning’ stage, then perhaps it may be more than this, but the end of it is the ‘appreciation’ stage.”

Overall observations:

  • Documentation is not the end-point of the KM pathways; the end-point is adoption/practice by other employees for their more effective action.
  • The mix of KM pathways varies across organizations; it responds to what the organization wants from KM.
  • “Learning by doing” coupled with mentoring/coaching is an effective knowledge transfer from consultant plus learning by client. There are three secrets to good KM: practice, more practice and still more practice! (smile)
  • Experiential workshops are effective in helping KM team members understand and appreciate KM.
  • Participation, team practice and involvement tends to develop sense of ownership on the part of KM Team members.

(Note that there are embedded links in this blog post. They show up as colored text. While pressing “Ctrl” click on any link to create a new tab to reach the websites pointed to.)

=>Back to main page of Apin Talisayon’s Weblog
=>Jump to Clickable Master Index

Knowledge Pathways in a Learning Organization (#21)

May 9, 2009

I wrote in the previous blog about the “Organizational Brain” (lower right or yellow quadrant in the diagram below). The Organizational Brain is a superb instrument for storing, providing, replicating and leveraging explicit knowledge but explicit knowledge by itself cannot create value. Information just sitting in a database does not create value. It is only when PEOPLE apply knowledge that value can be created (upper left or green quadrant in the diagram).

K pathways in OL

There are few exceptions. In a fully robotized factory, technology (~explicit knowledge), almost by itself, creates value. I said “almost” because there will always be humans overseeing the factory. Even in highly automated systems such as Ultra-Large Crude Carriers (ULCCs), about two dozen crew members are needed to manage its sophisticated technological systems.

Photograph from Wikimedia Commons

Photograph from Wikimedia Commons

Value may be created from explicit knowledge such as when a company sells the patents, copyrights, tools, software and formulas it had internally developed. Of course, the original source of this explicit knowledge is the tacit knowledge of the employees who developed them.

In short, the main creators of value are PEOPLE: individuals and teams using their tacit knowledge: this is a central tenet in the knowledge economy. In the diagram below, these are located in the left quadrants, particularly the green quadrant. Structural capital and technology (right quadrants) are only supportive. Note that the diagram is again based on Ken Wilber’s framework. You can go back to the following blogs to read about Ken Wilber’s framework: (click on any link)

There are four critical tasks facing a Learning Organization:

    Task 1: Enhance employees’ tacit knowledge (green quadrant) especially those that create most value for the organization.

    Task 2: Convert useful individual tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge — the form easily replicable and re-usable by more people in the organization (conversion from green to yellow quadrant using Pathways 2, 3 or 4).

    Task 3: Facilitate re-use or practice of the right explicit knowledge by the right people (conversion back to green quadrant). Pathway 6 does this. Through practice explicit knowledge is converted into the practitioner’s own tacit knowledge (see “D4- Converting Tacit to Explicit Knowledge and vice-versa”). Some organizations analyze, recombine, correlate and mine their Organizational Brain into more useful forms (Pathway 5).

    Task 4: Acquire needed knowledge from outside (Pathways 7-10 in the diagram below)

Sourcing K from outside

Some KM tools for Task 1 are:

  • Pathway 1 or replication of individual tacit knowledge: Mentoring, coaching, understudy, buddy system, lecture-demonstration, peer assist, cross-visits, knowledge sharing among a community of practitioners. Some of these KM tools tend to lie “outside the radar” of HR practitioners because the HRD framework looks at the individual employee as the unit of management, while the KM framework is based on managing value-creating knowledge across employees.
  • Various tools to enhance employee motivation and engagement; our empirical findings at CCLFI reveal the importance of motivational factors (see: “A Success Factor in KM: Motivating Knowledge Workers” and “Practical Exercise: Ingredients of Effective Group Action”)

Some KM tools for Task 2 (individual tacit knowledge to group explicit knowledge) are:

  • Pathway 2 (the predominant knowledge pathway for Task 2): Manualization, process documentation, learning history, individual mind mapping, blog, surveys and questionnaires.
  • Pathway 3: Lessons-learned session, after-action review, wiki or collaborative authoring, group exercises for thinking together such as mind mapping, causal flow diagramming, fishbone diagramming, etc.
  • Pathway 4: Video capture of story telling, company visioning exercise accompanied by documentation, minutes or aide memoire of a meeting and conceptual design brainstorming among architects

Some KM tools for Task 3 are:

  • Pathway 5 or recombination: Data mining, performance metrics followed by identification and study of best practitioner, multiple regression or path analysis to detect causal linkages and contributions, statistical summaries and fitting trend lines to data.
  • Pathway 6 or group explicit knowledge converted to individual tacit knowledge in many: Practicum, learning-by-doing, on-the-job training, workplace-oriented mentoring, action research, R&D, experimentation and replication/adaptation of best practice.

We know that the usual means for Task 4 are: purchase of knowledge products, hiring new employees, buying a franchise to quickly use a ready product and its support network, engaging a consultant, copying from the public domain, business intelligence procedures, etc.

I have written about these knowledge pathways in Section 3.5 of my Overview chapter in the book “Knowledge Management in Asia: Experience and Lessons” published in 2008 by the Asian Productivity Organization, Tokyo, Japan. If you wish to receive a copy of this chapter, send me an email.

See also: “Knowledge pathways: 3 case studies” and “Appreciating Nonaka’s SECI model”.

(Note that there are embedded links in this blog post. They show up as colored text. While pressing “Ctrl” click on any link to create a new tab to reach the websites pointed to.)

=>Back to main page of Apin Talisayon’s Weblog
=>Jump to Clickable Master Index