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disqourse. White paper No. 03
The future of organizational learning
is discursive & self-organized
2
disqourse White paper No. 03
Workplace learning is not a particularly thrilling adventure these days: Learning in organi-
zations overwhelmingly relies on aged and worn-out formats that produce little learning or
impact. The tools in use are often not fit for our time – in terms of content, or learning method,
or technology – or all three combined. One cannot help but notice that in the reality of orga-
nizations, by and large, Learning & Development (L&D) is a pretty dull affair, clearly lacking
innovation. In this paper, we will discuss how that is bound to change. We believe that work-
place learning can be as engaging as Maria Montessori envisioned child learning to be, over
100 years ago and as humane, effective and conducive as Ken Robinson demanded in his
world-famous TED talks a few years back. Sure, the current reality of corporate learning may
look bleak, but there are now signs of a way out of the L&D misery in which most companies
find themselves. One of these signs is the platform created by EdTech start-up disqourse.
A few years ago, we started looking for better and more powerful ap-
proaches to learning in organizations of all kinds. Our first joint book on
organizational methods that work, Complexitools, published in German
language in 2015, was very much influenced by this quest for learning
tools, but at the time we had not yet been able to discover convincing
solutions for fully scalable organizational learning.
In the following year, 2016, we came across a new and promising idea,
discovered by Niels during a stay in Montreal, Canada. There, strategy
guru Henry Mintzberg (a personal hero of ours) and his business partner
Phil LeNir had recently developed an approach to peer learning that they
were commercializing through their startup Coaching Ourselves. In this
approach, which Mintzberg and LeNir had decided to identify as peer
coaching, small groups of managers would get together for 90-minute,
self-organized learning sessions. During each session, the group would
work through a different set of learning materials. The handouts for each
90-minute session would serve several functions: 1) provide structure;
2) supply content and questions designed to spark lively interactions, ex-
change and debate; and 3) provide a suitable temporal rhythm (flow) for
the 90-minute session.
This beautiful core idea of peer learning made complete sense to us: Have
learners come together in 90-minute, small group sessions, using precon-
figured learning materials, with a bare minimum of external oversight
and facilitation. It dawned on us that such 90-minute units of learning
could be the fundamental building block for a contemporary, sustainable
learning architecture for all kinds companies – large and small. Following
Maria Montessori’s insights, why should adult people at work not learn
by Silke Hermann and Niels Pflaeging. February 2022
3
disqourse White paper No. 03
with-each-other-for-each-other, systematically, instead of being trained
by teacher-experts during seminars, courses and programs, or having in-
dividual learners cramming on-line content in isolation? The concept of
peer learning could be the entry gate to a practical, conceptually sound
alternative to conventional Learning & Development (L&D) formats. So
there was light at the end of the L&D tunnel, we thought.
From peer learning among managers to multi-level
workplace learning among (potentially) everyone
But we also noticed a few conceptual limitations embedded in the peer
learning approach pursued by our Canadian colleagues around Hen-
ry Mintzberg. Why, we asked ourselves, should participation in small
group-based, self-organized learning be restricted to just a few managers
or executives? Were managers really the only appropriate target audience
of such a development format? In principle, we wondered, why shouldn’t
all members and all teams of an organization take part in such learning,
particularly since peer conversations within the same constellations that
are performing the work together would likely be far more effective and
powerful, in terms of impact on performance. Involving everyone could
thus be far more valuable for the companies deploying peer learning for-
mats.
The available content for the individual peer learning sessions got us
thinking, too. While that content was poignantly presented, it seemed
to us that it was somewhat too strongly influenced by current business
school curricula and MBA course structures – at least in our minds.
Technocratic-sounding and administrative topics influenced by func-
tional division seemed to be too pronounced, and even dominant. We
also felt that the role of executives and top managers in decision making,
strategy and motivation was intentionally exaggerated and even glorified,
in the way the topics were articulated and presented.
Accordingly, we systematically considered how session topics could be
structured, formulated and presented, in order for them to be of interest
to potentially all working people – regardless of their work roles or ac-
tivities, their professional backgrounds, qualifications, hierarchical levels,
or cultural backgrounds. What would learning topics have to look like,
in order to be engaging and attractive to people who need to solve new,
tricky value-creation problems every day? Topics for people in need of
substantive, reflected exchange with peers, so that the exchange would
serve their own learning and further development? What about teams
and value-adding communities of practice that wished to become more
successful together? How could content be formulated that was not aimed
at external control and steering by managers, but geared at consistent
self-organization within highly autonomous teams? We wanted to curate
the content for learning sessions in such a way that it would make sense
to every working person, without exception. The content would also have
to be challenging enough to require small group collaboration. Every ses-
sion, we concluded, would have to be like a riddle – exciting and intense
like a contemporary escape room experience.
For us, this also involved the question of how the didactics (or: learning
method) might be designed in such a stimulating, aesthetic and varied
way that interest in this type of learning format would not be exhausted
or fizzle out, after a while. We wanted to ensure that every single learning
session would be cool, fun, and relevant for real-world collaboration, so
that this would not just work once or twice, but a 100 times or more.
4
disqourse White paper No. 03
Within a few months of working on these questions among the two of
us, the concept for LearningCircles by Red42 emerged. LearningCircles
is a social technology that does justice to the principle of self-organized
learning for everyone, at the interface to organizational development. In
early 2019, when we had also finalized design and authorship of an initial
set of learning modules for organizations, we published the LearningCir-
cles socio-tech, by making it freely available to use by anyone, through
an open source license. We designed a complementary concept overview
that spells out the main principles and concepts of the LearningCircles
approach. We published a compact, easy-to-read concept booklet in Ger-
man, in the same year, and a series of articles and white papers in English
that outline context, details and guidance for practical use in companies.
From progressive socio-tech to learning platform/
development ecosystem in organizations
Over the past three years, we have steadily expanded the practical ap-
plications of the LearningCircles social technology. In 2019, we used the
method with corporate clients from several German-speaking countries,
in two languages. Back then, we exclusively worked with physical hand-
outs, or learning sets. We supplied our client’s learning groups with indi-
vidually equipped, physical boxes containing the complete learning mate-
rials needed for each session. In this version of LearningCircles, learning
groups meet in groups of four, five or six people, sitting around a table
together. At the beginning of the 90 minutes, the group (called a Circle)
unseals the red box with the learning materials – and works through the
printed documents, which, in addition to a handout, can include work-
sheets and additional resources for interaction such as card decks.
In 2020, we began, not entirely unaffected by the Covid-19 pandemic, to
take the LearningCircles approach into the realm of the digital. The Croa-
tian-German entrepreneurs Dijana Vetturelli and Viktor Vetturelli played
a key role in this transition into virtual space. The two came up with the
idea that on-line learning modules could be used in conjunction with the
most common video conferencing platforms, and they developed the first
prototypes, together with programmers from Croatia.
In early 2021, the first clients started using the LearningCircles web plat-
form, which had been developed from scratch. The new application would
be used in parallel with common web conferencing softwares (Microsoft
Teams, Zoom, WebEx and Google Meet, in particular). At the same time,
the Croatian-German startup Disqourse was founded. Disqourse began
offering its platform for international use to corporate clients in Septem-
ber of the same year – initially in seven languages and together with six
international partners, from Austria to South Korea. With this move, the
existing LearningCircles by Red42 approach and business were handed
over to the newly-created company Disqourse.
Discourse learning is invitation-based, immediately
relevant, and seductively interactive
Over the course of developing the Disqourse approach and platform, sev-
eral important concepts of discourse learning emerged. In this paper, we
would like to highlight three of these insights.
All actors decide for themselves whether they want to be active in Dis-
qourse, or not. Learners will always be invited and never be forced to
participate in Disqourse. If invitees accept the invitation and become
5
disqourse White paper No. 03
learners, they always commit themselves to a single Cycle of five 90-min-
ute sessions (no more, no less!), which they will undertake together with
three to five fellow learners. This invitation-based, voluntary participa-
tion, combined with manageable effort and risk are both critical for gen-
erating high learning engagement.
The content of all modules is based not on exposition of facts, or story-tell-
ing, but on practical theory – groups of learners or Circles unravel the
content in the light of their own reality and work context. Content must
be related to the complex reality of work and value creation, as well as to
self-organization principles. For discourse learning to function, and in or-
der to achieve more than mere knowledge accumulation, it is crucial that
content, interactions and questions asked foster dissent and discourse
between the learners within the small group. The aim is not for everyone
to agree, but to have vivid discussion. Discourse learning is therefore par-
ticularly suitable for learning in subject areas that are relevant for com-
plex problem solving. In other words, it is ideal for all topics that require
interpretation, classification, judgment, reflection and integration. Topics
that can only be explored by exposing oneself to interaction with others.
Great learning material for self-organized discourse learning can take
virtual, or physical shapes: In any case, it must encourage interaction and
touch all the senses. This basic insight can well be understood as a homage
to the genius of Maria Montessori. In Disqourse, that insight is reflected
in each of the highly interactive learning modules. In the case of the digi-
tal Disqourse platform, learning modules are made available virtually. In
the case of Disqourse Live modules take the shape of physical boxes with
printed work documents. All modules – digital or physical – contain the
complete learning materials needed during a 90-minute session.
A focus on learning or a focus on instruction –
you cannot have both
Disqourse puts learners and their learning at the center of the action–
not teachers/experts, not knowledge, or a technology of conveying. This
undivided focus on the learning is achieved through a unique kind of
instructional design that constantly relates the content (which one might
describe as practical theory) to the learners’ own work, their work envi-
ronments and organizational context. For sure, a prerequisite for enabling
discussions about joint work reality and joint problems that learners may
face is that these learners must come from the same organization. If this
is the case, however, then organization-specific, context-specific insights
arising from the conversation in each session can be immediately inter-
preted, qualified, reflected upon in the light of personal work reality, and
socialized among learners within a Circle. In this way, the content of all
learning sessions becomes immediately and personally relevant for the
work. Reflection of the content thus always happens in relation to the
learning group’s own practice. What you learn in discourse learning is
“put to use” immediately, in conversation, within the 90 minutes of a ses-
sion. Which makes it about more than knowledge acquisition: It is also a
way of practicing in real-time.
The learning that occurs within the small-group conversation can be ef-
fectively connected with organizational development when several or
many learning groups work on the same contents at roughly at the same
time. What was learned in one group’s conversation can then link to what
was learned in another group, and so become a booster for networking
and joint development, within a larger group, or the entire organization.
6
disqourse White paper No. 03
Dijana Vetturelli, Disqourse CEO, explains: “You might say, of course,
that our learning platform is innovative. It undoubtedly is. But what is
far more important to us is that it is progressive – in that our approach
can elevate learning and development to a level that cannot be achieved
by any other means: Discourse learning with Disqourse enables everyone
who is willing to learn to acquire pretty much the same insights, and simi-
lar knowledge of the same sophisticated concepts at pretty much the same
time. Disqourse scales organizational learning effectively, and in a very
natural way. In addition, it provides more intense learning, is far more
time-saving and climate-friendly than conventional seminars, courses,
trainings or development programs.
”
Discourse-based organizational learning
is not a picnic
However, the process of learning throughout a 90-minute Disqourse ses-
sions means that learners have to make a real effort. Here, learning is work,
or as we call it: hard fun. This is especially true as discourse learning will
inevitably take place within a social process that is at the same time highly
structured and highly self-organized. It is structured through time-box-
ing, conceptual input, questions, exercises, iteration and rhythm. And it
is self-organized in a sense that everybody is there voluntarily, everybody
has to make decisions for themselves (within the group context) all the
time, and there is no external trainer/expert/facilitator. These and other
didactic elements of discourse learning are embedded in the module’s
content, but also in the setting. The well-prepared, reliable setting enables
the group to engage in serious, confidential and highly topic-focused
conversation, within minutes. Social density during the 90 minutes is in-
credibly high. And for many reasons. A few examples of what Disqourse
clients have told us about this: “It amazes me how quickly we got into a
profound conversation, during our session.
” Or: “The sessions provide a
safe place for serious discussion – without drama. This is something we
very rarely experience at work.
”
Regardless of the didactics, content quality, or technology, whether seri-
ous discussion can fully unfold or not ultimately depends on the learn-
ers themselves. It is their responsibility to engage in the discourse within
their Circle groups or not. In this sense, discourse learning is similar to a
parlor game: The prerequisite for both parlor games and learning in con-
versation is that all players firstly want to take part and secondly that they
play the game until the end.
Put differently, in discourse learning, there is no place for babysitting.
Powerful self-organization throughout the 90-minute sessions and be-
yond (see Disqourse White paper No. 01) requires bringing the principle
of self-efficacy back into the domain of organizational learning. Learners
Dijana Vetturelli, disqourse CEO
7
disqourse White paper No. 03
develop themselves and their interactions with others without interfer-
ence of experts or ‘management’, and independent of HR managers or
superiors.
This, of course, is a far cry from what we usually experience during sem-
inars, trainings, courses and programs. The kind of dependency and ex-
ternal control that are common in most of today’s learning formats sys-
tematically reduce identification, engagement and responsibility-taking
of learners – within the learning process and beyond. On the other hand,
we have all experienced the thrill of figuring out something new in a com-
pletely self-determined way, or the joy of simply “getting things done”
ourselves. When we do this, satisfaction and self-efficacy increase. Dis-
course learning enables each and every learner to have the experience of
assuming maximum responsibility for her or his own learning. We can
finally hand control over the learning back to learners! It is about time. qo
***
Silke Hermann is a highly accomplished entrepreneur and leadership
expert. She is founder of Red42, a company based in Wiesbaden/Germa-
ny. And a founder/director at Disqourse, a cloud-based, B2B platform
provider that enables enterprise-wide growth, learning and development
for all. Disqourse was founded in 2021 and is headquartered in Zagreb,
Croatia. Previously, Silke was a partner and managing director of Insights
Group Germany. Together with Niels Pflaeging, she developed several
organizational open source approaches, including OpenSpace Beta and
Cell Structure Design. She is the author of five influential business books,
which include the German-language best-seller Complexitools (forth-
coming in English). Contact: silke.hermann@disqourse.com
Niels Pflaeging is a leadership philosopher and entrepreneur. He is also
one of the most prolific European experts on organizational leadership
and transformation. Since 2003, Niels achieved international recognition
as a speaker and author, with ten published books to date. He speaks four
languages fluently. Together with Silke Hermann, Niels developed a series
of powerful organizational approaches, which include Org Physics and
Change-as-Flipping. Among his best-selling books is the internationally
acclaimed Organize for Complexity. Niels’ 2nd book, Leading with Flex-
ible Targets, was awarded the German Business Book Award, in 2006.
He is managing director of Red42 and investor at Disqourse. Contact:
niels.pflaeging@redforty2.com
Silke Hermann, disqourse founder,
and Niels Pflaeging, investor at disqourse
disqourse. White paper No. 03
THE AGILITY PROVIDER
disqourse d.o.o.
Svetice 36
10000 Zagreb, Croatia
start@disqourse.com
www.disqourse.com
Tel. +385 1 4647 478
Find all disqourse white papers here.

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The future of organizational learning is discursive & self-organized

  • 1. disqourse. White paper No. 03 The future of organizational learning is discursive & self-organized
  • 2. 2 disqourse White paper No. 03 Workplace learning is not a particularly thrilling adventure these days: Learning in organi- zations overwhelmingly relies on aged and worn-out formats that produce little learning or impact. The tools in use are often not fit for our time – in terms of content, or learning method, or technology – or all three combined. One cannot help but notice that in the reality of orga- nizations, by and large, Learning & Development (L&D) is a pretty dull affair, clearly lacking innovation. In this paper, we will discuss how that is bound to change. We believe that work- place learning can be as engaging as Maria Montessori envisioned child learning to be, over 100 years ago and as humane, effective and conducive as Ken Robinson demanded in his world-famous TED talks a few years back. Sure, the current reality of corporate learning may look bleak, but there are now signs of a way out of the L&D misery in which most companies find themselves. One of these signs is the platform created by EdTech start-up disqourse. A few years ago, we started looking for better and more powerful ap- proaches to learning in organizations of all kinds. Our first joint book on organizational methods that work, Complexitools, published in German language in 2015, was very much influenced by this quest for learning tools, but at the time we had not yet been able to discover convincing solutions for fully scalable organizational learning. In the following year, 2016, we came across a new and promising idea, discovered by Niels during a stay in Montreal, Canada. There, strategy guru Henry Mintzberg (a personal hero of ours) and his business partner Phil LeNir had recently developed an approach to peer learning that they were commercializing through their startup Coaching Ourselves. In this approach, which Mintzberg and LeNir had decided to identify as peer coaching, small groups of managers would get together for 90-minute, self-organized learning sessions. During each session, the group would work through a different set of learning materials. The handouts for each 90-minute session would serve several functions: 1) provide structure; 2) supply content and questions designed to spark lively interactions, ex- change and debate; and 3) provide a suitable temporal rhythm (flow) for the 90-minute session. This beautiful core idea of peer learning made complete sense to us: Have learners come together in 90-minute, small group sessions, using precon- figured learning materials, with a bare minimum of external oversight and facilitation. It dawned on us that such 90-minute units of learning could be the fundamental building block for a contemporary, sustainable learning architecture for all kinds companies – large and small. Following Maria Montessori’s insights, why should adult people at work not learn by Silke Hermann and Niels Pflaeging. February 2022
  • 3. 3 disqourse White paper No. 03 with-each-other-for-each-other, systematically, instead of being trained by teacher-experts during seminars, courses and programs, or having in- dividual learners cramming on-line content in isolation? The concept of peer learning could be the entry gate to a practical, conceptually sound alternative to conventional Learning & Development (L&D) formats. So there was light at the end of the L&D tunnel, we thought. From peer learning among managers to multi-level workplace learning among (potentially) everyone But we also noticed a few conceptual limitations embedded in the peer learning approach pursued by our Canadian colleagues around Hen- ry Mintzberg. Why, we asked ourselves, should participation in small group-based, self-organized learning be restricted to just a few managers or executives? Were managers really the only appropriate target audience of such a development format? In principle, we wondered, why shouldn’t all members and all teams of an organization take part in such learning, particularly since peer conversations within the same constellations that are performing the work together would likely be far more effective and powerful, in terms of impact on performance. Involving everyone could thus be far more valuable for the companies deploying peer learning for- mats. The available content for the individual peer learning sessions got us thinking, too. While that content was poignantly presented, it seemed to us that it was somewhat too strongly influenced by current business school curricula and MBA course structures – at least in our minds. Technocratic-sounding and administrative topics influenced by func- tional division seemed to be too pronounced, and even dominant. We also felt that the role of executives and top managers in decision making, strategy and motivation was intentionally exaggerated and even glorified, in the way the topics were articulated and presented. Accordingly, we systematically considered how session topics could be structured, formulated and presented, in order for them to be of interest to potentially all working people – regardless of their work roles or ac- tivities, their professional backgrounds, qualifications, hierarchical levels, or cultural backgrounds. What would learning topics have to look like, in order to be engaging and attractive to people who need to solve new, tricky value-creation problems every day? Topics for people in need of substantive, reflected exchange with peers, so that the exchange would serve their own learning and further development? What about teams and value-adding communities of practice that wished to become more successful together? How could content be formulated that was not aimed at external control and steering by managers, but geared at consistent self-organization within highly autonomous teams? We wanted to curate the content for learning sessions in such a way that it would make sense to every working person, without exception. The content would also have to be challenging enough to require small group collaboration. Every ses- sion, we concluded, would have to be like a riddle – exciting and intense like a contemporary escape room experience. For us, this also involved the question of how the didactics (or: learning method) might be designed in such a stimulating, aesthetic and varied way that interest in this type of learning format would not be exhausted or fizzle out, after a while. We wanted to ensure that every single learning session would be cool, fun, and relevant for real-world collaboration, so that this would not just work once or twice, but a 100 times or more.
  • 4. 4 disqourse White paper No. 03 Within a few months of working on these questions among the two of us, the concept for LearningCircles by Red42 emerged. LearningCircles is a social technology that does justice to the principle of self-organized learning for everyone, at the interface to organizational development. In early 2019, when we had also finalized design and authorship of an initial set of learning modules for organizations, we published the LearningCir- cles socio-tech, by making it freely available to use by anyone, through an open source license. We designed a complementary concept overview that spells out the main principles and concepts of the LearningCircles approach. We published a compact, easy-to-read concept booklet in Ger- man, in the same year, and a series of articles and white papers in English that outline context, details and guidance for practical use in companies. From progressive socio-tech to learning platform/ development ecosystem in organizations Over the past three years, we have steadily expanded the practical ap- plications of the LearningCircles social technology. In 2019, we used the method with corporate clients from several German-speaking countries, in two languages. Back then, we exclusively worked with physical hand- outs, or learning sets. We supplied our client’s learning groups with indi- vidually equipped, physical boxes containing the complete learning mate- rials needed for each session. In this version of LearningCircles, learning groups meet in groups of four, five or six people, sitting around a table together. At the beginning of the 90 minutes, the group (called a Circle) unseals the red box with the learning materials – and works through the printed documents, which, in addition to a handout, can include work- sheets and additional resources for interaction such as card decks. In 2020, we began, not entirely unaffected by the Covid-19 pandemic, to take the LearningCircles approach into the realm of the digital. The Croa- tian-German entrepreneurs Dijana Vetturelli and Viktor Vetturelli played a key role in this transition into virtual space. The two came up with the idea that on-line learning modules could be used in conjunction with the most common video conferencing platforms, and they developed the first prototypes, together with programmers from Croatia. In early 2021, the first clients started using the LearningCircles web plat- form, which had been developed from scratch. The new application would be used in parallel with common web conferencing softwares (Microsoft Teams, Zoom, WebEx and Google Meet, in particular). At the same time, the Croatian-German startup Disqourse was founded. Disqourse began offering its platform for international use to corporate clients in Septem- ber of the same year – initially in seven languages and together with six international partners, from Austria to South Korea. With this move, the existing LearningCircles by Red42 approach and business were handed over to the newly-created company Disqourse. Discourse learning is invitation-based, immediately relevant, and seductively interactive Over the course of developing the Disqourse approach and platform, sev- eral important concepts of discourse learning emerged. In this paper, we would like to highlight three of these insights. All actors decide for themselves whether they want to be active in Dis- qourse, or not. Learners will always be invited and never be forced to participate in Disqourse. If invitees accept the invitation and become
  • 5. 5 disqourse White paper No. 03 learners, they always commit themselves to a single Cycle of five 90-min- ute sessions (no more, no less!), which they will undertake together with three to five fellow learners. This invitation-based, voluntary participa- tion, combined with manageable effort and risk are both critical for gen- erating high learning engagement. The content of all modules is based not on exposition of facts, or story-tell- ing, but on practical theory – groups of learners or Circles unravel the content in the light of their own reality and work context. Content must be related to the complex reality of work and value creation, as well as to self-organization principles. For discourse learning to function, and in or- der to achieve more than mere knowledge accumulation, it is crucial that content, interactions and questions asked foster dissent and discourse between the learners within the small group. The aim is not for everyone to agree, but to have vivid discussion. Discourse learning is therefore par- ticularly suitable for learning in subject areas that are relevant for com- plex problem solving. In other words, it is ideal for all topics that require interpretation, classification, judgment, reflection and integration. Topics that can only be explored by exposing oneself to interaction with others. Great learning material for self-organized discourse learning can take virtual, or physical shapes: In any case, it must encourage interaction and touch all the senses. This basic insight can well be understood as a homage to the genius of Maria Montessori. In Disqourse, that insight is reflected in each of the highly interactive learning modules. In the case of the digi- tal Disqourse platform, learning modules are made available virtually. In the case of Disqourse Live modules take the shape of physical boxes with printed work documents. All modules – digital or physical – contain the complete learning materials needed during a 90-minute session. A focus on learning or a focus on instruction – you cannot have both Disqourse puts learners and their learning at the center of the action– not teachers/experts, not knowledge, or a technology of conveying. This undivided focus on the learning is achieved through a unique kind of instructional design that constantly relates the content (which one might describe as practical theory) to the learners’ own work, their work envi- ronments and organizational context. For sure, a prerequisite for enabling discussions about joint work reality and joint problems that learners may face is that these learners must come from the same organization. If this is the case, however, then organization-specific, context-specific insights arising from the conversation in each session can be immediately inter- preted, qualified, reflected upon in the light of personal work reality, and socialized among learners within a Circle. In this way, the content of all learning sessions becomes immediately and personally relevant for the work. Reflection of the content thus always happens in relation to the learning group’s own practice. What you learn in discourse learning is “put to use” immediately, in conversation, within the 90 minutes of a ses- sion. Which makes it about more than knowledge acquisition: It is also a way of practicing in real-time. The learning that occurs within the small-group conversation can be ef- fectively connected with organizational development when several or many learning groups work on the same contents at roughly at the same time. What was learned in one group’s conversation can then link to what was learned in another group, and so become a booster for networking and joint development, within a larger group, or the entire organization.
  • 6. 6 disqourse White paper No. 03 Dijana Vetturelli, Disqourse CEO, explains: “You might say, of course, that our learning platform is innovative. It undoubtedly is. But what is far more important to us is that it is progressive – in that our approach can elevate learning and development to a level that cannot be achieved by any other means: Discourse learning with Disqourse enables everyone who is willing to learn to acquire pretty much the same insights, and simi- lar knowledge of the same sophisticated concepts at pretty much the same time. Disqourse scales organizational learning effectively, and in a very natural way. In addition, it provides more intense learning, is far more time-saving and climate-friendly than conventional seminars, courses, trainings or development programs. ” Discourse-based organizational learning is not a picnic However, the process of learning throughout a 90-minute Disqourse ses- sions means that learners have to make a real effort. Here, learning is work, or as we call it: hard fun. This is especially true as discourse learning will inevitably take place within a social process that is at the same time highly structured and highly self-organized. It is structured through time-box- ing, conceptual input, questions, exercises, iteration and rhythm. And it is self-organized in a sense that everybody is there voluntarily, everybody has to make decisions for themselves (within the group context) all the time, and there is no external trainer/expert/facilitator. These and other didactic elements of discourse learning are embedded in the module’s content, but also in the setting. The well-prepared, reliable setting enables the group to engage in serious, confidential and highly topic-focused conversation, within minutes. Social density during the 90 minutes is in- credibly high. And for many reasons. A few examples of what Disqourse clients have told us about this: “It amazes me how quickly we got into a profound conversation, during our session. ” Or: “The sessions provide a safe place for serious discussion – without drama. This is something we very rarely experience at work. ” Regardless of the didactics, content quality, or technology, whether seri- ous discussion can fully unfold or not ultimately depends on the learn- ers themselves. It is their responsibility to engage in the discourse within their Circle groups or not. In this sense, discourse learning is similar to a parlor game: The prerequisite for both parlor games and learning in con- versation is that all players firstly want to take part and secondly that they play the game until the end. Put differently, in discourse learning, there is no place for babysitting. Powerful self-organization throughout the 90-minute sessions and be- yond (see Disqourse White paper No. 01) requires bringing the principle of self-efficacy back into the domain of organizational learning. Learners Dijana Vetturelli, disqourse CEO
  • 7. 7 disqourse White paper No. 03 develop themselves and their interactions with others without interfer- ence of experts or ‘management’, and independent of HR managers or superiors. This, of course, is a far cry from what we usually experience during sem- inars, trainings, courses and programs. The kind of dependency and ex- ternal control that are common in most of today’s learning formats sys- tematically reduce identification, engagement and responsibility-taking of learners – within the learning process and beyond. On the other hand, we have all experienced the thrill of figuring out something new in a com- pletely self-determined way, or the joy of simply “getting things done” ourselves. When we do this, satisfaction and self-efficacy increase. Dis- course learning enables each and every learner to have the experience of assuming maximum responsibility for her or his own learning. We can finally hand control over the learning back to learners! It is about time. qo *** Silke Hermann is a highly accomplished entrepreneur and leadership expert. She is founder of Red42, a company based in Wiesbaden/Germa- ny. And a founder/director at Disqourse, a cloud-based, B2B platform provider that enables enterprise-wide growth, learning and development for all. Disqourse was founded in 2021 and is headquartered in Zagreb, Croatia. Previously, Silke was a partner and managing director of Insights Group Germany. Together with Niels Pflaeging, she developed several organizational open source approaches, including OpenSpace Beta and Cell Structure Design. She is the author of five influential business books, which include the German-language best-seller Complexitools (forth- coming in English). Contact: silke.hermann@disqourse.com Niels Pflaeging is a leadership philosopher and entrepreneur. He is also one of the most prolific European experts on organizational leadership and transformation. Since 2003, Niels achieved international recognition as a speaker and author, with ten published books to date. He speaks four languages fluently. Together with Silke Hermann, Niels developed a series of powerful organizational approaches, which include Org Physics and Change-as-Flipping. Among his best-selling books is the internationally acclaimed Organize for Complexity. Niels’ 2nd book, Leading with Flex- ible Targets, was awarded the German Business Book Award, in 2006. He is managing director of Red42 and investor at Disqourse. Contact: niels.pflaeging@redforty2.com Silke Hermann, disqourse founder, and Niels Pflaeging, investor at disqourse
  • 8. disqourse. White paper No. 03 THE AGILITY PROVIDER disqourse d.o.o. Svetice 36 10000 Zagreb, Croatia start@disqourse.com www.disqourse.com Tel. +385 1 4647 478 Find all disqourse white papers here.