What It Is:
Attributed to Chris Argyris
“Teaching smart people how to learn”. Harvard Business Review (May 1991)
Double-Loop Learning is a concept attributed to Chris Argyris, a renowned organizational theorist and management scholar. It is a learning process that involves questioning not only actions and outcomes but also the underlying assumptions and values that guide those actions. Argyris distinguished between single-loop and double-loop learning:
- Single-Loop Learning:
- Focus: Correcting errors within existing frameworks and assumptions.
- Example: Making adjustments to a process or procedure when faced with problems without questioning the fundamental assumptions.
- Double-Loop Learning:
- Focus: Questioning and challenging the underlying assumptions, values, and mental models that guide actions.
- Example: Reflecting on why a certain process is in place, questioning the assumptions behind it, and considering alternative approaches.
How to Use It:
Using Double-Loop Learning in Agile Coaching:
- Reflective Practices:
- Encourage the team to engage in reflective practices that go beyond addressing surface-level issues. Ask questions that prompt them to explore the underlying assumptions guiding their decisions and actions.
- Root Cause Analysis:
- When addressing problems or challenges, guide the team to conduct a deeper root cause analysis that questions not only what went wrong but also why certain decisions were made in the first place.
- During retrospectives, facilitate discussions that go beyond identifying and fixing specific issues. Encourage team members to explore the thought processes, assumptions, and beliefs that influenced their actions.
- Challenge Mental Models:
- Foster a culture where team members feel comfortable challenging existing mental models and assumptions. This can lead to innovative solutions and improvements in how the team works.
- Scenario Planning:
- When planning projects or sprints, engage the team in scenario planning exercises that explore various assumptions and possible outcomes. This helps in anticipating challenges and adapting to changing circumstances.
Resources on Double-Loop Learning:
- Books by Chris Argyris:
- “Organizational Learning: A Theory of Action Perspective” is a seminal work by Chris Argyris that delves into the concept of double-loop learning.
- Academic Journals and Articles:
- Explore academic journals and articles in the field of organizational behavior, management, and learning for in-depth discussions on double-loop learning.
- Educational Institutions and Management Schools:
- Check resources provided by educational institutions and management schools that focus on organizational learning and leadership.
- Professional Development Programs:
- Attend professional development programs, workshops, or training sessions on organizational learning and leadership.
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