Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

15 January 2010

Changing minds

Clark @ 7:03 AM

There is a lot of concern about incorporating social learning into organizations centering on the organizational and culture issues.  I gave my “Blowing up the training department” presentation last nite for Massachusetts ISPI chapter, and a number of the questions were on getting the executives to buy in to the need, and then changing the culture. My recent post on problem-solving similarly raised such questions.

As Kevin suggested, if you asked executives “Do you support problem-solving, sharing and reflection, reward diverse participation, and encourage individual initiative?”, they would answer in the affirmative.  However, if you asked below that level, you might find a different viewpoint.

This reminded me of an earlier post on attitudinal change, where the first step was to make folks aware of their own attitudes.  I think it might be similarly necessary to help make executives aware of the reality, not what they believe.  An audit might be a good tool to invoke, assessing the realities of the possibilities to contribute, the rewards, as well as the actual behaviors and beliefs of the individuals in the organization.  Eventually, you have to characterize the organization on dimensions of being a learning organization, including supportive learning environment, leadership, and processes and practice.

If you can present individuals with the reality, as the attitude change model suggests, you then have the opportunity to present alternatives, and evaluate the tradeoffs involved. For instance, changing cutlure is hard. However, the consequences of not changing may be worse!  Then, if you can get commitment to change, you have the necessary buy-in to start organizational change processes.

It seems clear to me that change can’t happen without an awareness of the real situation and it’s consequences.  Org change requires leaders to proselytize and walk the walk.  That only happens when they’re really committed, and that requires them to acknowledge the gap and the need.

I’m continually exploring the needs and solutions possible, but it’s clear we can’t avoid the tough issues and have to come up with approaches to address them.  These tactics are, I’m sure, not new, but you need the tools to move forward.  Learning culture audit anyone?


  1. Learning Culture Audit. I like the ring of that phrase!

    As we’ve spoken in the past (and hopefully get you on site) I think learning cultures sort of just evolve out the ground until one day things are just not working the way it was intended. It’s then when a ‘learning culture audit’ is considered to see where the gaps are, re-look at strategies (if there are any), and start asking those tough questions: What is it do you want for your organization? What are you willing to do to get there?

    Comment by Kevin — 15 January 2010 @ 10:57 AM

  2. I included a learning culture audit worksheet in my book, Developing a Learning Culture in Nonprofit Organizations. You can download a copy at: http://www.sagepub.com/learnculstudy/chapters/01/Tool_1.2.pdf

    Comment by Stephen J. Gill — 18 January 2010 @ 6:05 AM

  3. Your remarks about attitude adjustment resonate with these EarthSea-Keeping thinkLets:

    What my Kansas Environmental Leadership Program (2005-2008) field studies found was that our region’s politicians have become adept at dodging accountability for adverse outcomes by carefully crafting “plausible denial” scenarios that rely upon “faulty assertions” by third-party professional engineering firms.

    Inconsistent application of the “Kansas Golden Rule” by appointed & elected public officials constitutes a violation of our maritime “General Prudential Rule” case law. It governs preservation & protection of our Earth Ship’s common waters to the sea!

    Our U.S Constitution embeds LIFE, Liberty & pursuit of happiness (sustainable wellbeing) as the foundation for USA’s five core freedoms:

    [1] Freedom of Speech
    [2] Freedom of Religion
    [3] Freedom from Fear
    [4] Freedom from Want
    [5] Freedom of Influence

    Comment by Bob-RJ Burkhart (geoWIZard) — 25 January 2010 @ 3:17 PM

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