You might wonder what in God’s name am I talking about!
If so, be patient. I will explain.
We start with a guy named Chris Argyris. Chris was a Harvard professor who pased on just a few years ago. He is best known for proposing something called “double loop learning”. The idea sounds complicated, but it is really quite simple. It is a recipe for learning how to stop banging your head against the wall.
Bang once – that is the first loop. Then stop and ask yourself is there a better way? The learning you get from asking that question is the before mentioned double loop.
Don’t we do this? According to Chris, the answer is “nyet” The reason we don’t do it is not because we are stupid., It is because we are not taught to challenge the assumptions that are the basis for what we do. By accepting them, we join the “I bang my head against walls every day” club. You can imagine what their luncheon meetings look like!
As smart as Chris was — and he was a very smart dude — I don’t think this goes far enough. We need more tools to be able to effectively challenge assumptions. Dan Kahneman provides a great one in his book “Fast and Slow Thinking”. Dan points out that we tend to think fast — in other words use conclusions that we believe in (sounds like the good old single loop learning to me!) But we can think slow too, even if we don’t like to do that. We start thinking slowly by asking questions that we cannot answer straight away. You might also call this thinking strategically. If we quiet our minds and let them offer suggestoins, it is amazing what happens next. They do just that! Even while we sleep!
Right. Much better! But I think there are in fact, 3 more learning stages.
The third stage is to learn how to SHARE what we are thinking. Doing that in ways that does not pissple off requires certain skills. Those used to be taught in prep schools and finishing schools. Now we go to conflict management courses and in extreme cases, psychiatrists.
The fourth stage is to learn how to place what we learn in CONTEXT. In other words, reality is not a photo album. It moves, and the context of our slow thinking and sharing changes as it does. The trick here is to learn how to ride the waves rather than smacked in the face by them. Some call that a “reality sandwich” — when instead of you banging your head against the wal, the wall comes after you! Sort of what the French got when the saw the Germans go around their impregnable Maginot Line. Ooops!
The fifth stage is to learn how to SCALE what we are learning. It is fun to share stuff with your spouse (and sometimes even with your ex) but it is a lot more fun to share stuff that changes the world for the better. Sharing that changes behavior? Yes, it is possible.
So that is it. The quintuple loop model. And you got it for free!
What was I thinking?????