Every week my team and I meet up, discuss results, plans of action and new ideas. We then contradict and second guess ourselves before we agree and go our separate ways hoping for a better rollover this week. Please. Our SHV goes down. Repeat process. What in the world are we doing wrong seems to be a question I ask myself every week? The effort is there, the desire to do well and pass the course is there for sure and yet we cannot seem to crack this game. I believe the Argyris reading may help explain our problem.
At this stage, my team and I appear to be stuck - in Agrys' (1991) words - at the level of single loop learning. Instead of questioning why production capacity was not fully utilised or why our marketing program was not effective, we try new tactics or simply throw more money at the problem. We don't learn from our mistakes or use those very same mistakes as reasons to get better at our jobs, instead look at at each other, frown and move on. Why? In Argyris' (1991) reading he notes that "because many professionals are almost always successful at what they do, they rarely experience failure" and this idea I believe is transferable to a team of university students. My team is full of individuals who are used to success, used to getting good grades in assignments and tests and yet when put in a continuous situation, the ability to adapt is not there. Our goal is so singular in loop that we've even made the same mistake twice in overproducing some of our bikes, thereby creating warehousing costs. Yet rather than figuring out why this has happened, we simply decrease production. Single loop indeed. Okay so we're used to success and its not happening for us yet, big deal, pull thumb and lets get this right. Ah, no. This is where Argyris' second obstacle to second loop learning lies, in the propensity to shift the blame. The prevalent ideology at this stage of Mikesbikes appears to be twofold. First a shift of responsibility away from the individual and onto the group thereby creating protection for the peer review process. Secondly a shift of blame to exterior factors such as the area we were put in, or how our team was chosen in the first place (weakest members together). Rather than fixing our individual mistakes, we shift the blame, move on, and get it wrong all over again.
If I want change and double loop learning to occur perhaps rather then complain, I myself need to start applying it. Agyris said having top level management involved was important and while I am not CEO, I am HR and one of the more vocal in my group. Perhaps here is my chance to air both my concerns to the group as well as attempt to stimulate some new found impetus into the project. If team members are encouraged to come to me with ideas or even worries, these can be used to learn more about both how to work as a team and how to get Mikesbikes itself to play nice. Maybe. Double loop learning has got to start somewhere and im realising now that the only way to get better is to first be able to recognise our mistakes.
Argyris, C. (1991). Teaching smart people how to learn. Reflections, 4(2), 4--15