Put Down the Hammer

As you read the title I would imagine the first image that comes to mind is someone with a hammer driving a nail into a board or some sort of something. And with that image I now ask you to consider, have you ever felt that way when an organization you were a part of began to institute a change?

This is not to imply that change is always forced or that your organization does not attempt to get your input, but after reading the fourth chapter of the text The Organizational Learning Cycle by Nancy Dixon, I cannot help but wonder about missed opportunities in the way changes are instituted and why they may at times end up failing.

As we’ve learned in our reading, experiences shape a significant part of our belief system. And, as a result, trying to reshape that belief system, especially when it’s on a grander scale like the whole organization, can prove difficult when you neglect to include them or consider the variety of experiences, perceptions, opinions, etc. that shape the beliefs that you are trying to revamp. Changes in our tacit knowledge cannot, or should not, be hammered in, they should be learned instead.

Take for example how Dixon relates the Kolb learning cycle to Organizational learning on the collective scale. While Kolb’s theory speaks of individual experiences and how a change in our action can change our experiences, thus resulting in learning; we sometimes forget the impact of the organization as a whole on that individual’s ability to apply the necessary action that results in change. It is becoming more and more evident that in order for change and learning to occur, the environment that the individual is in must be open and/or supportive of that change. As Dixon cites on page 66, “everyone needs all of the information everyone else has. The task is one of integrating newly generated information into the organizational context.”

And in this process known as the Organizational Learning cycle, one must remember to appreciate each member’s perspective, background and experience level (etc.) as they are brought to the table. For, “without difference learning does not occur.” (pg 66) And yet the ability to consider the importance of these varied perspectives is frequently forgotten. Further still, “because there are many potential solutions, it is less critical that the collective come to a right answer and more critical that collective meaning is made, so that those that must act upon the meaning (and often that is everyone) can support their actions with their own reasoning.” (pg 55) So if we fail to involve all at the very start, or fail to encourage a variety of perspectives, how can we truly expect learning or the investment of all in a change that we seek? H0w can we truly expect to be successful?


About hdjackson

Graduate Student at Virginia Commonwealth University studying the theoretical world of Adult Learning along with its relation to Human Resources Developement. View all posts by hdjackson

2 responses to “Put Down the Hammer

  • lsniestrath

    A friend worked for a small, community based company that was purchased by a large, national corporation several years ago. The organizational changes have devastated the community for the needs of the members have never been considered. Implementations occur, stakeholders are ignored and morale is at an all time low. I will be interesting in lurking in your class through your blog entries. Organizational Learning is not one of the classes in my track, but is certainly one that I am considering AFTER my program is over.

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