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Mezirow's Perspective Transformation

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Mezirow's Perspective Transformation and its relevance to group dynamics in a competitve work environment. Wilfred Bion's work is examined as a complement to Mezirow's thoughts.

Published in: Leadership & Management
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Mezirow's Perspective Transformation

  1. 1. Mezirow’s Transformational Learning Theory and Its Relevance to Managing Group Dynamics in a Competitive Work Environment S. Henry-Campbell, Nova Southeastern University S. A. Hadeed, Florida International University Transformation Theory/Group Dynamics SFERC 2015 1
  2. 2. THE PURPOSE OF INTELLECT IS THE TRANSFORMATION OF A “MIRACLE” TO SOMETHING UNDERSTANDABLE. – ALBERT EINSTEIN Transformation Theory/Group Dyamics - SFERC 2015 2
  3. 3. MEZIROW’S TRANSFORMATIONAL THEORY Involves critical thinking, which includes conducting an internal investigation into one’s views and philosophies to transform one’s life into a new significant way (1997) Transformation Theory/Group Dyamics - SFERC 2015 3
  4. 4. CLARK’S VIEW.. Transformational learning is defined as learning that induces more far-reaching change in the learner than other kinds of learning, especially learning experiences, which shape the learner and produce a significant impact, or paradigm shift, which affects the learner's subsequent experiences. Transformation Theory/Group Dyamics - SFERC 2015 4
  5. 5. RECOGNIZING THE SHIFT • Individuals are able to look at themselves (Introspection) • Reflect on the beliefs that they possess • An event acts as a trigger • Competing expressions of others perspectives • Recognize that a change can be made • Make changes to beliefs. Transformation Theory/Group Dyamics - SFERC 2015 5
  6. 6. UNDERPINNING TRANSFORMATION Critical reflection is a key element in the process of perspective transformation (Mezirow, 1990). • Individuals are able to critically look at every angle of the situation or experience • Including other person’s point of view in order to avoid a one-sided transformation process. Transformation Theory/Group Dyamics - SFERC 2015 6
  7. 7. BION’S WORK • Bion (1961) credited with insightful work on group dynamics through his Tavistock Clinic • Spoke to the work group and the basic assumption group. • Work group demonstrates the conscious level of the group process. Transformation Theory/Group Dyamics - SFERC 2015 7
  8. 8. BION’S WORK • Basic Work Assumption is the unconscious group process where individuals adopt measures aimed at protecting themselves from the discomfort of working in groups. • Examples include challenging the authority of the leader; hidden agendas. Transformation Theory/Group Dyamics - SFERC 2015 8
  9. 9. BION’S THREE BASIC ASSUMPTIONS • Dependency Assumption  Characterized by the groups need to feel safe  Leaders response is to attend to all decisions. Transformation Theory/Group Dyamics - SFERC 2015 9
  10. 10. BION’S THREE BASIC ASSUMPTIONS • Fight/Flight – Group desires appropriate leadership at varying times  Guidance for group action when threats surface Transformation Theory/Group Dyamics - SFERC 2015 10
  11. 11. BION’S THREE BASIC ASSUMPTIONS • Act of reproducing – influenced by Sigmund Freud’s work, Bion addresses the need of the group to form new realities .  Instances of groups being formed to address untoward events (pre/post) Transformation Theory/Group Dyamics - SFERC 2015 11
  12. 12. BRIDGING THE DIVIDE OPERATING IN AN ENVIRONMENT OF CONTRADICTIONS • Living with contradictory realities • Examples: conflict/resolution; light/dark; good evil Transformation Theory/Group Dyamics - SFERC 2015 12
  13. 13. PARADOXICAL PROBLEM-SOLVING AS A TOOL • Reframe how we react to present events (new groups) instead of trying to change the actual dynamics of the group • Adjust our perception and response to the group dynamics • Alter the way we perceive our reactions and our thought processes to the group (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2011). Transformation Theory/Group Dyamics - SFERC 2015 13
  14. 14. PARADOXICAL PROBLEM-SOLVING AS A TOOL • Recognizing the multiple, typically conflicting truths that shape and inform our problems. • Challenge us to deploy higher-level skills and intelligence, to discern multiple truths and discover fresh ideas in the complex, contradictory nature of our problem. • Turn problems into evolutionary imperatives and opportunities. Cloke and Goldsmith (2011) Transformation Theory/Group Dyamics - SFERC 2015 14
  15. 15. 5 STEPS (PARADOXICAL PROBLEM SOLVING) 1. Admit that a problem exists 2. Examine and clarify the elements and nature of problem 3. Investigate, analyze and prioritize the problem 4. Look at possible solutions 5. Jointly act, evaluate results, acknowledge efforts and celebrate success Transformation Theory/Group Dyamics - SFERC 2015 15
  16. 16. COMPLEMENTARY THEORETICAL FRAMES • Complex Structures • Perspectives change over time • Influenced by events • Events that impact at the individual level can impact at the group level. • Expectation in an organization is for the individual to be subsumed by the org. will. Transformation Theory/Group Dyamics - SFERC 2015 16
  17. 17. COMPLEMENTARY THEORETICAL FRAMES • Managing the individual’s expectations requires an understanding of how events produce changes for good or bad. • Perspective transformation is necessary if groups are to adapt to change. Transformation Theory/Group Dyamics - SFERC 2015 17
  18. 18. ACCESSING AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT IN GROUPS • Identify the underlying work assumptions that will prevent the group from meeting targets. • Create a culture of recognizing success, where the individual is encouraged by the group’s achievement. • Provide opportunities for various groups to work together. This builds awareness and tolerance among members. Transformation Theory/Group Dyamics - SFERC 2015 18
  19. 19. ACCESSING AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT IN GROUPS • Cultivate leaders who are able to champion decisions in the face of change. • Open opportunities for dialogue. Difficult conversations included. • List is not exhaustive Transformation Theory/Group Dyamics - SFERC 2015 19
  20. 20. REFERENCES • Bion, W.R. (1961). Experiences in groups. New York, NY: Basic Books • Clark, M.C. (1993). Transformational learning. New Directions fro Adult and Continuing Education 57, 47-56 • Freud, S. (1926). Inhibitions, Symptoms and anxiety. New York: W.W. Norton and Company. • Mezirow, J. (1997). Transformative learning: Theory to Practice. New directions for adult and continuing education. Transformation Theory/Group Dyamics - SFERC 2015 20

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