I found this week’s readings rather interesting, particularly Teaching Smart People How to Learn. The reason I found it particularly interesting is I think some of the points it makes relate to how my the team dealt with our performance in the second real rollover. We didn’t do as well as we thought we should have, and I think the above article is relevant to how we reacted to our performance.
The issue I think we as a team have is we focused too much on ‘single loop’ learning. Argyris (2002) distinguishes between what he terms ‘single loop’ and ‘double loop’ learning. He describes how ‘single loop’ learning involves reflecting on what went wrong in the external environment (as in external to the team), or in other words, ‘problem solving’. ‘Double loop’ learning, on the other hand, involves critically examining the internal environment, or what happened within the team. In the context of this course, I think ‘single loop’ learning is looking at what went wrong with the simulation. Taking a hypothetical example, say we noticed that a team noticed efficiency was down, the problem was determined to be that we had too much idle time. ‘Double loop’ learning is looking at how the team dynamics allowed that to happen. Using the same example, as well as diagnosing the problem within the simulation, the team also discovered that, during team meetings, operations were being marginalized in discussions and that no one really understood how it affected the bottom line.
So how do we examine whether the processes and dynamics in our team negatively impacted our decision process, and consequently our decisions. I think the problem is being masked be the fact that we are still doing quite well; I simply think we can do much better. Added to this is, I think we have a problem similar to the professionals described by Argyris (2002). That is, it is hard to critically examine our own individual performance when we know our team members eventually have to evaluate our performance. Argyris (2002) asserts that the solution to this is training employees in a company to adopt a different, ‘tougher’ thinking process to the defensive one that is much more common. Aside from feeling like a consulting pitch, ‘your problem is this, this is how I can fix it’, because of the particulars of our situation, this doesn’t seem to be the right solution. I’m find myself wondering if the problem is that we aren’t holding ourselves, and being held, individually accountable for different decisions. Or is the problem an unwillingness to examine our own processes because we are afraid of what we might find. Perhaps it’s something else entirely or a combination of different issues. I have my own ideas, but I think this is something we need to work out as a team. I’m running a round of feedback; perhaps this will make the issue (if any) clearer. So my ‘action’ is to evaluate the feedback in light of this and also to put this to my team.
Argyris, C. (2002). Teaching Smart People How to Learn. Reflections, 4(2), 4-15. doi: 10.1162/152417302762251291