Replying to LO30630 --
The description of cognitive dissonance has remarkable similarities and
applications when dealing with the concept of a paradigm (aka perceptions
or frame of reference). Paradigms are central to most Total Quality or
Continuous Improvement efforts, but have applications in many other
Essentially, we each (and collectively) have a notion of what is what and
how things work. This notion is created by the sum of our knowledge and
experiences. Whenever we experience information that is contrary to our
paradigm, we filter that information through that paradigm in order to
make sense of it.
Information that runs counter to our paradigm strongly enough is often
discounted and may not even be perceived. It is this lack of perception
that creates so many problems in making progress toward realizing our
What is at work here is Cognitive Dissonance. Whenever we experience this
new information that runs counter to our paradigm and causes us discomfort
(dissonance) we will typically do one of three things with it:
1. We will modify it (by filtering it through our paradigm) so that it
makes sense (and, consequently, supports our paradigm).
2. We will ignore it altogether.
3. We will intergrate this new information into our paradigm and seek to
understand it, thus making sense of it, and changing our paradigm. This
is the start of real learning.
I think that Cognitive Dissonance does have a role in learning. I heard
once that all growth (learning?) takes place in response to pain
(dissonance). I have generally found this to be true. The only question
seems to involve the source of this pain. Is this pain the result of a
change in environment? Is it the result of new external requirements
placed upon us? Is it the result of our innate curiosity?
This may sound like so much academic musing, but I think that these
questions bring up the idea of progression from a typical organization
toward becoming an LO. This also ties in the question of the role of
coercion (if any) in creating an LO.
We usually start learning in response to external require,emnts that are
placed upon us. We adapt to these new requirements and learn nwe
practices and procedures.
Ideally, we want the organization (and the individual employees) to learn
to adapt to changes in the environment without having to have specific
requirements placed upon them. This sounds like the "idea" of the LO.
What do we want to happen with regard to learning from our own curiosty,
though? Such learning is necessarily unstructured and unfocused. What
place is there withi the LO for this type of learning?
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