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 massive impact on the Global Economy and individual lives. Typically, when we receive feedback to 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 double loop learning theory which 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. Indouble 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 you can help. Get them to ask you:
With a self-leadership approach to learning we influence out thinking feeling and actions towards 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 an Executive Coach, 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 taken.
15 Minute Masterclass for Senior Executives & Managers
The 2021 Roadmap to Get a Senior Leadership Role WITHOUT Being Overlooked in the 'New Normal' Workspace
Presenter: Andrew Bryant, Global Authority on Self-Leadership & Executive Presence.