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Single loop learning (what we learn in academic situations: models, concepts, frameworks, secondary research, policies) is a tempting shortcut and a great way to minimize effort. Problem solving becomes a habit, where 20 years of experience are more like one year repeated 20 times.

Double loop learning is action science: the tacit, the experiential. The learning while doing is the quickest and most efficient way to learn anything that you want to “stick”. It leaves room for mistakes and often resorts to guidance as opposed to intervention, which is what’s needed when companies are executing on anything new that involves different decisions and dealing with challenges.

From a cultural perspective, double loop learning often confronts company policies and norms. It’s often  associated with times of crisis when management is looking to shake things up and an ineffective and unsustainable level of anxiety.

Our experiential program and double loop learning

Through our experiential program, we engage with front-line staff and teach them how to engage in double loop learning during down times or benchtime. No panic, no far-out innovations or horizons – just addressing small everyday problems – the process of the continuous improvement of core activities.

A recent favorite from a front-line staff facilitation session: one employee asks another (cross functional) to review an interim milestone before sending it for client review. A twenty-minute activity with the potential to dramatically reduce edits from the client, increase collaboration and ultimately result in more satisfied clients and employees.

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

Read more about double loop learning:

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