When you’re trying to learn something new, achieve a particular goal, or just get through your everyday routine, it’s easy to just put your head down and focus on getting things done. But if you want to really get better at something and think outside the box, The New York Times suggests a learning process called “double loop learning“.
Photo by Doug Waldron
Double loop learning is essentially a form of forced self-examination where you look critically at what you’ve done and your plan for achieving goals:
During the 1970s, Chris Argyris, a business theorist at Harvard Business School (and now, at 89, a professor emeritus) began to research what happens to organisations and people, like Mr. Chang, when they find obstacles in their paths.
Professor Argyris called the most common response single loop learning — an insular mental process in which we consider possible external or technical reasons for obstacles.
LESS common but vastly more effective is the cognitive approach that Professor Argyris called double-loop learning. In this mode we — like Mr. Chang — question every aspect of our approach, including our methodology, biases and deeply held assumptions. This more psychologically nuanced self-examination requires that we honestly challenge our beliefs and summon the courage to act on that information, which may lead to fresh ways of thinking about our lives and our goals.
We’re all pretty aware that we need to challenge our own assumptions if we want to come up with new ideas, but double loop learning at least provides a bit of a process to that idea so it’s easier to replicate.
Secret Ingredient for Success [The New York Times]