This weeks reading about how to teach smart people how to learn was probably one of my favourites. I enjoyed it so I found it easy to read. I liked the thorough and comprehensive analysis by Argyris around the limitations, the need for learning at all levels of the business, the clear case study with sign-posted points. I felt like the theorist really knew his stuff. I will also admit, I had my reservations about this article since it was written in 1991 I thought it would be out of date, but I was pleasantly surprised.
While I feel this reading is more appropriate to my workplace than my group, I will try to relate it to my MGMT 300 group. However, I do feel that our group consists of proactive learners. And I believe this is because we are all intelligent, ambitious, occupy positions of similar hierarchy, have similar interests due to our major choice and so on. I for one, am a systems person. In my mind, things can always be done more efficiently, even if it is only by a few seconds. And because of my personality, and enjoyment of teaching others, I like to show others alternative ways of doing things. Therefore I would say in that sense I am a proactive learner. However, I can also identify with parallel conversation. It’s the idea that things are ‘in the too-hard basket’. “Our leaders are unavailable and distant”. Were they really though? Because I think you’ll find that if their job is on the line, then what you have to say, they can make time for. It can be like answering a question with a question, does it really solve anything? This is to do with the almost habitual, lazy defensive reasoning.
I can understand how easy it is to evaluate and critique others, but when you are critiqued, and by someone subordinate to you, it can be embarrassing. This isn’t a problem in our group, but I have experienced this before in the workplace.
In essence, the problem here is a slight ego. Can I learn more or have I just learnt it all? Even if I haven’t learnt it all, I know what is needed for my job and that’s enough. But workplaces change, and new scenarios arise that require a new strategy, and this requires learning (as is mentioned when Argryis refers to 3M). The flaw is to do with the conflict between the espoused theory and the theory-in-action. Managers put systems into place that cannot be successfully implemented and a simple example of someone saying they are green friendly when they don’t even recycle. The conflict between thinking, saying and doing needs to be consciously addressed to avoid paralleling conversation and blame shifting.