Thursday, September 22, 2005

Learning Disabilities

From Peter Senge's book The Fifth Discipline.

Seven learning disabilities
1 - I am my position
When people in organizations focus only on their position, they have little sense of responsibility for the results produced when all positions interact.

2 - The enemy is out there
It is a by-product of “I am my position”. When actions come back to hurt us, we misperceive it as externally caused.

3 - The illusion of taking charge
If we become more “proactive” and aggressive in fighting the ”enemy out there”, we are reacting. True proactive ness comes from seeing how we contribute to our own problems.

4 - The fixation on events
The primary threats to our survival, both organizations and of societies, come not from sudden events but from slow, gradual processes.

5 - The parable of the boiled frog
Case for “Fixation on events”

6 - The delusion of learning from experience
Primary consequences of our actions are in the distant future, which it becomes impossible to learn from direct experience. Dilemma in organizations: We learn best from experience but we never directly experience the consequences of many of our most important decisions

7 - The myth of the management team
Maintaining the appearance of a cohesive team. They seek to squelch disagreement. Most managers find collective inquiry inherently threatening. School train us never to admit that we do not know the answer, and most corporations reinforce that lesson by rewarding people who excel in advocating their views, not inquiring into complex issues. ( When was the list time someone was rewarded in your organization for raising difficult questions about the company’s current policies rather than solving urgent problems?). If we feel uncertain or ignorant, we learn to protect ourselves from the pain of appearing uncertain or ignorant. That very process blocks out any new understanding which might threaten us. The consequence is what Argyris calls “skilled incompetence”– teams full of people who are incredibly proficient at keeping themselves from learning.


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