The world, as we know it, is in a spin. Assumptions we made about life and business have been upended by a tiny virus that has had a massive impact on the Global Economy and individual lives. Typically, when we receive feedback on our actions, we make a course correction and carry on, but in this unprecedented time – we need to challenge our assumptions and apply double-loop learning.
Argyris & Schon (1974) proposed a double-loop learning theory that promotes learning to change underlying values and assumptions. The following diagram explains it:
In single-loop learning, we receive feedback from our actions and adjust our behavior accordingly. In double-loop learning, we take a ‘step back’ and challenge our assumptions, beliefs, and values about why we behaved that way in the first place. Double loop learning is really ‘disruptive thinking’.
As with any learning strategy, using the double loop requires asking questions. Some examples would be:
Often, it is difficult to step back from the single loop and get to your assumptions. This is where having a coach or a trusted friend can help. Get them to ask you:
With a self-leadership approach to learning we influence our thinking feeling and actions toward our objectives. The self-leader reflects, acts intentionally, and then reflects on the results. When the results are unexpected, double-loop learning helps the self-leader to question the assumptions that they held about the situation.
With the current Covid-19 pandemic, whilst in lockdown, we all have a pause to reflect on our assumptions.
Henry Ford once quipped,
“Thinking is the hardest work we do which is why so few people do any of it”
As a leadership coach and global keynote speaker, I am fortunate that I get to ask questions of some very smart people. Recently the conversations have been particularly interesting as we challenge some big assumptions. The focus has typically been on business continuity, but it is my deepest hope that we come out of this current crisis with ‘eyes wide open’, that some of our basic assumptions about how we treat ourselves and our planet need rethinking and new action is taken.
BEING HUMAN WHILST DELIVERING ACCELERATED RESULTS