ACTION LEARNING, KNOWLEDGE CREATION AND ORGANISATION LEARNING

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Paper work presented by PROFESSOR JEFF GOLD @ the 1ST ACTION LEARNING FORUM in Dubai, 29/05/2014, Organized by The Emirates Center for Organizational Learning of the Emirates Identity Authority

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ACTION LEARNING, KNOWLEDGE CREATION AND ORGANISATION LEARNING

  1. 1. Action Learning, Knowledge Creation and Organisation Learning Jeff Gold Professor of Organization Learning Leeds Business School, UK
  2. 2. We start with………………. ….a good story. Identify an example of really good work practice 1.What happened that made it rgwp? – write a sentence 2.How did rgwp happen and why? – write a paragraph 3.What are the implications of this rgwp for others in the company? – bullet point
  3. 3. Logico-Scientific v. Narrative Knowledge in Organizations Truth Analysis, reason, logic and proof Theory, models Decontextualise and abstraction Objective Verisimilitude Good story, inspiring, aesthetics and sense Meaning Contextual and concrete Personal, value- laden
  4. 4. The conundrum of knowledge (knowing)-based organisations Knowing-base Organising
  5. 5. We continue with………. ….a difficult work problem, you are willing to share a. What has been happening, what have you done, how have you felt? – two paragraphs b. Conclude by writing two sentences that begin with the words…….. I believe that………….. I believe that…………. c. For one ‘I believe that….’, state some ‘evidence’ for it
  6. 6. Knowledge Creating Experience accumulation articulation codification Individual Adapted from Prencipe and Tell (2001) Pure personalise
  7. 7. Organisation Learning Landscape Experience accumulation articulation codification Individual Group/T eam Adapted from Prencipe and Tell (2001) Pure personalise Organisation
  8. 8. Traditional Action Learning Based on the work of Reg Revans
  9. 9. The Ecology of LEARNING L > C Learning must be equal to or exceed the rate of change (Reg Revans)
  10. 10. The Learning Equation L = P + Q Learning is a combination of P (Programmed Knowledge) & Q (Questioning Insight)
  11. 11. “In the varied topography of professional practice, there is a high, hard ground overlooking a swamp. On the high ground, manageable problems lend themselves to solution through the use of research- based theory and technique. In the swampy lowlands, problems are messy and confusing and incapable of technical solution. The irony of this situation is that the problems of the high ground tend to be relatively unimportant to individuals or to society at large, however great their technical interest may be, while in the swamp lie the problems of greatest human concern.” Schön (1983) Uncertainty Equivocality Wicked Issues Tame Issues
  12. 12. Unknown problem Known problem Known solution Unknown solution Task Problem solving Solution seeking a problem Complexity, wicked, mess
  13. 13. The Learning Organization • Create continuous learning opportunities (CL) • Promote inquiry and dialogue (DI) • Encourage collaboration and team learning (TL) • Establish systems to capture and share learning (ES) • Empower people toward a collective vision (EP) • Connect the organization to its environment (SC) • Provide strategic leadership for learning (SL) Based on Watkins and Marsick, 2003
  14. 14. New Idea Try Out Reflect and Share Real Experience LEVEL 1: IMPLEMENTING Learning to do Things Well
  15. 15. Real Experience Reflect and Share Try Out New Idea (from within) LEVEL 2: IMPROVING Learning to do Things Better
  16. 16. Linking Action Learning to Organisation Learning Through Action Learning Research
  17. 17. The PROBLEM CORPORATE GOVERNANCE: SYSTEM BY WHICH ENTERPRISE ACTIVITY IS DIRECTED & CONTROLLED AND CONFLICTING INTERESTS MANAGED TNIs (WORLD BANK) PROMOTE WESTERN SYSTEM IN NIGERIA NIGERIAN FIRMS AWARE OF TNI PRINCIPLES BUT DO NOT PRACTICE
  18. 18. The QUESTION: TO WHAT EXTENT CAN TNI THEORETICAL REQUIREMENTS BE RECONCILED WITH CORPORATE GOVERNANCE PRACTICE IN NIGERIA AIM: TO MAKE TNI MODEL MORE RELEVANT IN CONTEXT OF NIGERIA IMPORTANT FOR: LOWER COSTS, FDI & MITIGATING CONTAGION
  19. 19. METHODLOLOGY • PROBLEM OF ACCESS TO ‘BLACK BOX’ OF BOARD ROOM • Action Learning Research • Group of Directors in an action learning set • Working on improving corporate governance • Willing to share finding • Methodology to develop model
  20. 20. FINDINGS OF AL SET and a MODEL EMERGES
  21. 21. Positive Action Learning (PAL) Based on Appreciative Inquiry
  22. 22. AI Meaning • Explores ideas about what people say is valuable in what they do • Builds on the ideas • Appreciates the positive rather than problems • Uses stories of the positive to persuade others to change
  23. 23. Assumptions • In every organisation, something works • Focus on what is working, provides new possibilities • Positive stories have influence • Positive stories help create a positive future • Telling positive stories, creates new realities
  24. 24. The AI Cycle Discovery Dreaming Designing Delivery
  25. 25. Set Up Based on our definition of the problem: a. Who in the business has a stake in this? b. What are their objectives? c. What are their criteria for the value of any inquiry and the outputs that emerge?
  26. 26. Building Dreams 1. Read the findings....note what is interesting 2. Generate codes: Code interesting features of the findings in a systematic fashion across the entire data set 3. Develop themes: Collate codes into potential themes 4. Review themes – are they linked? What is interesting? What is useful? 5. What is desired?
  27. 27. The AI Cycle Discovery Dreaming Designing Destiny (Delivery)
  28. 28. Positive Action Learning (PAL) • Company B, a UK-based but US-owned design and production company • 2008 - production fell by around 15% and there were redundancies of around 15%. • Re-direction of the organisation would also require a shift in culture, even as staff were being made redundant.
  29. 29. From PAL….. Champion Group – 5 AI +AL
  30. 30. From PAL…..to PALS Champion Group – 5 AI +AL Group 1 – 4 AI +AL Group 2 – 4 AI +AL Group 3 – 4 AI +AL Group 4 – 4 AI +AL Group 5 – 4 AI +AL Group 4.1 – 4 AI +ALGroup 4.2 – 4 AI +AL Group 4.3 – 4 AI +AL Group 4.4 – 4 AI +AL Group 4.5 – 4 AI +AL
  31. 31. Movement against the baseline – 0 - 10 Scale Strategy We have a 1 year strategy focused on AOP delivery: we don’t see a year 2 and 3 plan There is a lack of ongoing communication: update/ where are we winning Politics influences the strategy delivery and we aren’t waking the talk Visibility Lack of clear visibility of the leadership team (walking the talk, being aligned, listening and being seen together) Lack of a clear detailed vision/plan for year 1/2/3 with outcomes , actions and timings Lack of engagement of all to really believe in the future Communication We don’t have a common understanding of what the true issues are There is no honest and open regular update on business performance with sufficient detail for people to take action We aren’t energising people around what they can/ need to do 5.8 5.6 5.4 4.0 4.0 5.6 5.0 5.4 4.6
  32. 32. Action Modes of Research - completed in the context of practice which results in knowledge that is useful through its application = LEARNING Action Research - knowledge generation that is based on a collaborative problem-solving relationship between researcher and client Action Learning Research -a group setting that seeks to generate learning across multiple levels, from individuals to systems, arising from engagement in the solution of real-time (not simulated) work problems Action science - work-based intervention for helping learners increase their effectiveness in social situations through heightened awareness of their action and interaction assumptions Appreciative Inquiry (AI) - focus on the positive capabilities of people and organizations and building on such capabilities Cultural-Historical Activity Theory: research on activity as a unit of analysis that is analyzable in its contextuality and is specific to human beings by being culturally mediated and dynamic Cooperative Inquiry- participants engage in self-critical examination in the presence of a group, which iinvites spontaneous inquiry into its own patterns allowing the generating of ideas and designing and managing projects. Soft Systems Methodology- a learning based inquiry to make improvements using systems models and thinking

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