Where possible, we can shift learning from ‘event’ based and into ‘experience’, which can be as simple as shifting focus from the internally self referential activities of a workshop, into the externally moderated activity of our everyday reality. Creating spaces where people can bring their own case studies and experience into the learning means we need strong facilitation, and firm scaffolding, but relieves us of the need to build many assets, and of the need to believe that we must find a ‘truth’ to teach.
Sense Making is both an individual and collective activity: within experience based learning, we will run through continual ‘loops of learning’, where we move from the cognitive aspects of sense making, into action planning (with a focus on individual application in their real world), into action itself, and finally through guided reflection into further sense making. Those loops may take minutes or days.
Effective sense making will take place as part of a Community: we need to establish both safe and known Communities, but also divergent and disconnected ones that we can bridge between, to explore bias and difference. Planning is about the consideration of the links back into performance: what can we carry forward and do something with (which can include encouragement to consider measurement of this).
Action is not simply about getting something done: it can be about building new vocabulary. Not just words to share, but skills and actions too. Finding a common language to analyse and discuss things is a core strength for a team, and something we should invest in. It also supports shared sense making and a group finding shared vocabulary may be a sign of it becoming a functioning entity and taking on a life of it’s own.
Reflection is always a strange thing, but most importantly is not simply a factor of time. Our role may be to create loose structures of reflection, from the ‘sieves’ that we filter new knowledge through, to the mechanisms by which reflection is captures. Personally i favour using storytelling approaches, but that is just one of many options. We should certainly remember that a written artefact is not, per se, reflection. Reflection is the activity, and you can write a page without reflecting on anything except time till your coffee break.
Sharing should be included as an active part of reflection: to share into our Communities, and of course to share beyond them.
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