Facilitate Better Learning by Breaking The Cycle

Conversations are taking place all around us, and in this Conversation Age, we are looking to learn a thing or two from them. My idea for this chapter came while reading an article in Harvard Business Review by Chris Argyris.

What is the quality of insight gained for the curator of the conversation? Moreover, ask yourself the question, are we addressing the more fundamental impulsions behind the responses from the newly formed community of conversationalists?

As the curator of the conversation, you are seeking to learn from the players involved. But also, you are seeking to further facilitate and massage the conversation forward with hopes to gain maximum insight. The problem arises with curatorial benevolence.

The curator strays from questioning the assumptions and fundamental biases in responses from the players of the conversation. These assumptions and fundamental biases are laid in the early formation of the group involved. A sense of communal identification is borne from active listening, conscious participation, and purposeful speaking. 

This initial process of respectful engagement will inherently lay a foundation that must be shaken for optimal insight. Most importantly, as this identity develops, the curator usually takes a passive role. Passivity is the result of the curator’s fear that he or she will discourage the players from participation.

This passivity is a disservice to net learning. As a sense of community develops, fundamental assumptions are not addressed behind player responses. A cyclical process of learning develops as a result. The sense of communal assumptions (identification) with other conversationalists contributes to closing the circle, further continuing the cyclical process. This continues until the curator steps in to question the communal assumptions, thus breaking the circle, and allowing for deeper insight.

The curator must act as a catalyst at his or her recognition of this cyclical learning. The curator must seek to disturb the harmony when they detect cyclical or homogeneous responses, by questioning fundamental impulsions behind the responses. They are not destroying communal identification, but allowing for a more sustainable and beneficial learning process. Argryis calls this the double loop and single loop phenomenon, I am adapting it here, calling it “a need for cyclical breakout.”

1 comment:

Andrew said...

I really like this post - thanks for putting this up and I hope the travels are going well.

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