There is an inherent relation between learning and change. Think about how you changed when you grew up; during those years where you absorbed most new knowledge and experience is where you changed most. And then there comes a time where we tend to learn less. After we have finished school or graduated the urgency to learn more diminishes. We have reached a stadium – a status – where we are proud of what we know. We have become someone.
What we learn from than on is “marginal;" the new knowledge and experience doesn't change the form of the old existing knowledge (base). We learn in a linear way adding more knowledge to the existing stock. We are able to adapt to new situations by learning new skills. If we want to transcend the normal level – the achieved status – we need to learn differently. In stead of merely adding new knowledge we need to delete or destroy previously built up knowledge.
One of the most famous thought leaders of organizational learning is Peter Senge. He explains - in the fifth discipline - the five disciplines that are required for organizational learning. Two of those discipline are concerned with individual learning. Like those described above. Senge uses the concept of mental models to describe how to get to a higher level of learning; by inward observation to reflect about our own mental models; the way that we traditionally think and act.
According to Senge, organizations can not learn if not the individuals itself will (learn). And both mentioned disciplines are the enablers. Free translated, the first - Personal mastery – would be your own way of learning, and the other is the way in which you need to reinvent yourself; The first is where you improve, the second is where you change.
This means that if we want to improve we need to learn new things, if we want to change, we are more likely to “unlearn" – or to break a habit.
© 2006 Hans Bool
Hans Bool is the founder of Astor White a traditional management consulting company that offers online management tools. Have a look at some of our free management tools .