PDSA and Double-Loop Learning LO23115 -was PDSA. Do vs. Act?

Malcolm Burson (mburson@mint.net)
Wed, 3 Nov 1999 20:03:33 -0500

Replying to LO23092

On Tuesday, November 2, Jose wrote,

>I agree upon the differences betwen "DO" and "ACT"discussed -and yes,
>Malcolm (LO23068) even in Mexico it is taught so, but instead of "STUDY",
>"CHECK" is more commonly used-. However I would like to go further:
>IMHO the Deming (as we know PDSA) Cycle has a lot of similarities with
>Argyris' single and double-loop learning. Would any of you agree that
>"ACT" is a type of double-loop learning, meaning that once you've "DONE"
>and reviewed ("STUDIED") the results, the feedback might raise the need
>for improvements upon the previous "PLAN", which is the heart of the
>continuous improvement theory.

Jose, I guess I'd have to disagree on the basis of my understanding of
Argyris, but since I've never found it easy to enter fully into his
thought, I'm willing to be corrected. To me, the "Act" part of the
improvement cycle is still an example of single-loop learning: that is,
the correction of a flaw or error (or poor choice or whatever) on the
basis of new information, designed to generate a better response next time
around. We fix the problem, but without much reflection or inquiry into
the root causes.

Double loop learning, as I've understood it from Argyris' "Reasoning,
Learning and Action" (1982) among other places, involves a deliberate
choice to examine the underlying mental models which may have produced the
"error" in the first place. Thus, a trial such as would be typical of
the PDC(orS)A cycle would only engage double-loop learning if the
"Check/Study" segment involved intentional investigation of "old maps",
and led to new ways of seeing, not just a change or improvement in the
given process.

Is there someone more knowledgeable on this matter who'd like to weigh in

Hoping to learn more....


Malcolm Burson mburson@mint.net

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