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A Harvard university psychologist Ellen langer argues that we are mostly unaware of the assumptions that underlie our thinking and behaviour.as a result our behaviour for most part is largely automatic. We tend to react to situations unthinkingly; it is as if our behaviour is mindless. She suggests 3 manifestations of mindlessness:
1) we tend to get trapped by the categories we create. When we construct a mental model of the world around us, we create categories and make distinctions b/w them.
2) as the experiment above indicates, automatic behaviour is another reflection of mindlessness. Habit or any repetitive behaviour is more likely to lead to mindlessness.
3) actions from a single perspective is a reflection of mindlessness.
What are the roots of mindlessness?
1- whenever we perform any task repeatedly, we become expert at it. In psychological terms we overlearn the task.
2- we tend to form a mindset when we first encounter something. Subsequently we have a tendency to cling to it when we reencounter the same thing. Langer calls this premature cognitive commitment.
3- when we believe that the resources we require are limited, we are more likely to be trapped by the categories that we create.
4- we may think of time as a linear entity when in fact under some conditions it may make more sense to think of it as a cyclical entity.
5- both in education and at work we tend to be outcome oriented. We are focused on results rather than the processfor achieving the results.
6- our context can powerfully influence our mindsets and behaviour.
Langer suggests that we can become aware of our mindsets and mental models through mindfulness. That can be cultivated by:
a) continually creating new categories to enrich our mental models,
b) opening ourselves to new information
c) considering different points of view before acting on change
d) consciously limiting the power of context on our thinking and behaviour
e) paying attention to process before outcome.
Langer suggests that we adopt an orientation of inquiry and learning in order to act mindfully in change situations. Within the field of management there is growing literature on organizational learning that echoes this sentiment.

2)Peter Senge
Born in 1947, Peter Senge graduated in engineering from Stanford and then went on to undertake a masters on social systems modeling at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) before completing his PhD on Management. Said to be a rather unassuming man, he is is a senior lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also founding chair of the Society for Organizational Learning . His current areas of special interest focus on decentralizing the role of leadership in organizations so as to enhance the capacity of all people to work productively toward common goals.
Peter Senge describes himself as an ‘idealistic pragmatist’. This orientation has allowed him to explore and advocate some quite ‘utopian’ and abstract ideas (especially around systems theory and the necessity of bringing human values to the workplace). At the same time he has been able to mediate these so that they can be worked on and applied by people in very different forms of organization. His areas of special interest are said to focus on decentralizing the role of leadership in organizations so as to enhance the capacity of all people to work productively toward common goals. One aspect of this is Senge’s involvement in the Society for Organizational Learning (SoL), a Cambridge-based, non-profit membership organization. Peter Senge is its chair and co-founder. SoL is part of a ‘global community of corporations, researchers, and consultants’ dedicated to discovering, integrating, and implementing ‘theories and practices for the interdependent development of people and their institutions’. One of the interesting aspects of the Center (and linked to the theme of idealistic pragmatism) has been its ability to attract corporate sponsorship to fund pilot programmes that carry within them relatively idealistic concerns.
The learning organization
According to Peter Senge learning organizations are:
…organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together.
The basic rationale for such organizations is that in situations of rapid change only those that are flexible, adaptive and productive will excel. For this to happen, it is argued, organizations need to ‘discover how to tap people’s commitment and capacity to learn at all levels’.
While all people have the capacity to learn, the structures in which they have to function are often not conducive to reflection and engagement. Furthermore, people may lack the tools and guiding ideas to make sense of the situations they face. Organizations that are continually expanding their capacity to create their future require a fundamental shift of mind among their members.
When you ask people about what it is like being part of a great team, what is most striking is the meaningfulness of the experience. People talk about being part of something larger than them, of being connected, of being generative. It becomes quite clear that, for many, their experiences as part of truly great teams stand out as singular periods of life lived to the fullest. Some spend the rest of their lives looking for ways to recapture that spirit.
For Peter Senge, real learning gets to the heart of what it is to be human. We become able to re-create ourselves. This applies to both individuals and organizations. Thus, for a ‘learning organization it is not enough to survive. ‘”Survival learning” or what is more often termed “adaptive learning” is important – indeed it is necessary. But for a learning organization, “adaptive learning” must be joined by “generative learning”, learning that enhances our capacity to create’.
The dimension that distinguishes learning from more traditional organizations is the mastery of certain basic disciplines or ‘component technologies’. The five that Peter Senge identifies are said to be converging to innovate learning organizations. They are:
Systems thinking
Personal mastery
Mental models
Building shared vision
Team learning
He adds to this recognition that people are agents, able to act upon the structures and systems of which they are a part. All the disciplines are, in this way, ‘concerned with a shift of mind from seeing parts to seeing wholes, from seeing people as helpless reactors to seeing them as active participants in shaping their reality, from reacting to the present to creating the future’. It is to the disciplines that we will now turn.

3) Chris Argyris has made a significant contribution to the development of our appreciation of organizational learning, and, almost in passing, deepened our understanding of experiential learning. On this page we examine the significance of the models he developed with Donald Schön of single-loop and double-loop learning, and how these translate into contrasting models of organizational learning systems.
Chris Argyris’ early research explored the impact of formal organizational structures, control systems, and management on individuals (and how they responded and adapted to them). This research resulted in the books Personality and Organization (1957) and Integrating the Individual and the Organization (1964). He then shifted his focus to organizational change, in particular exploring the behaviour of senior executives in organizations (Interpersonal Competence and Organizational Effectiveness, 1962; Organization and Innovation, 1965). From there he moved onto a particularly fruitful inquiry into the role of the social scientist as both researcher and actor (Intervention Theory and Method, 1970; Inner Contradictions of Rigorous Research, 1980 and Action Science, 1985 – with Robert Putnam and Diana McLain Smith). Much of the focus on this page lies with his fourth major area of research and theorizing – in significant part undertaken with Donald Schön – around individual and organizational learning. Here the interest lies in the extent to which human reasoning, not just behaviour, can become the basis for diagnosis and action (Theory in Practice, 1974 ; Organizational Learning, 1978; Organizational Learning II, 1996 – all with Donald Schön). He has also developed this thinking in Overcoming Organizational Defenses (1990), Knowledge for Action .
The ability, demonstrated here, to engage with others, to make links with the general and the particular, and to explore basic orientations and values is just what Argyris talks about when exploring the sorts of behaviours and beliefs that are necessary if organizations are to learn and develop.
Theories of action: theory in use and espoused theory
Our starting point is Argyris and Schön’s (1974) argument that people have mental maps with regard to how to act in situations. This involves the way they plan, implement and review their actions. Furthermore, they assert that it is these maps that guide people’s actions rather than the theories they explicitly espouse. What is more, fewer people are aware of the maps or theories they do use (Argyris, 1980). One way of making sense of this is to say that there is split between theory and action. However, Argyris and Schön suggest that two theories of action are involved.
The notion of a theory of action can be seen as growing out of earlier research by Chris Argyris into the relationships between individuals and organizations (Argyris 1957, 1962, 1964). A theory of action is first a theory: ‘its most general properties are properties that all theories share, and the most general criteria that apply to it – such as generality, centrality and simplicity – are criteria applied to all theories’ (Argyris and Schön 1974: 4). The distinction made between the two contrasting theories of action is between those theories that are implicit in what we do as practitioners and managers, and those on which we call to speak of our actions to others. The former can be described as theories-in-use. They govern actual behaviour and tend to be tacit structures. Their relation to action ‘is like the relation of grammar-in-use to speech; they contain assumptions about self, others and environment – these assumptions constitute a microcosm of science in everyday life’ (Argyris & Schön 1974: 30). The words we use to convey what we, do or what we would like others to think we do, can then be called espoused theory.
Making this distinction allows us to ask questions about the extent to which behaviour fits espoused theory; and whether inner feelings become expressed in actions. In other words, is there congruence between the two? Argyris (1980) makes the case that effectiveness results from developing congruence between theory-in-use and espoused theory. For example, in explaining our actions to a colleague we may call upon some convenient piece of theory. We might explain our sudden rush out of the office to others, or even to ourselves at some level, by saying that a ‘crisis’ had arisen with one of ‘our’ clients. The theory-in-use might be quite different. We may have become bored and tired by the paper work or meeting and felt that a quick trip out to an apparently difficult situation would bring welcome relief. A key role of reflection, we could argue, is to reveal the theory-in-use and to explore the nature of the ‘fit’. Much of the business of supervision, where it is focused on the practitioner’s thoughts, feelings and actions, is concerned with the gulf between espoused theory and theory-in-use or in bringing the later to the surface. This gulf is no bad thing. If it gets too wide then there is clearly a difficulty. But provided the two remain connected then the gap creates a dynamic for reflection and for dialogue.
To fully appreciate theory-in-use we require a model of the processes involved. To this end Argyris and Schön (1974) initially looked to three elements:
Governing variables: those dimensions that people are trying to keep within acceptable limits. Any action is likely to impact upon a number of such variables – thus any situation can trigger a trade-off among governing variables.
Action strategies: the moves and plans used by people to keep their governing values within the acceptable range.
Consequences: what happens as a result of an action. These can be both intended – those actor believe will result – and unintended. In addition those consequences can be for the self, and/or for others.
Where the consequences of the strategy used are what the person wanted, then the theory-in-use is confirmed. This is because there is a match between intention and outcome. There may be a mismatch between intention and outcome. In other words, the consequences may be unintended. They may also not match, or work against, the person’s governing values. Argyris and Schön suggest two responses to this mismatch, and these are can be seen in the notion of single and double-loop learning.
Single-loop and double-loop learning
For Argyris and Schön (1978: 2) learning involves the detection and correction of error. Where something goes wrong, it is suggested, an initial port of call for many people is to look for another strategy that will address and work within the governing variables. In other words, given or chosen goals, values, plans and rules are operationalized rather than questioned. According to Argyris and Schön (1974), this is single-loop learning. An alternative response is to question to governing variables themselves, to subject them to critical scrutiny. This they describe as double-loop learning. Such learning may then lead to an alteration in the governing variables and, thus, a shift in the way in which strategies and consequences are framed. Thus, when they came to explore the nature of organizational learning. This is how Argyris and Schön (1978: 2-3) described the process in the context of organizational learning:
When the error detected and corrected permits the organization to carry on its present policies or achieve its presents objectives, then that error-and-correction process is single-loop learning. Single-loop learning is like a thermostat that learns when it is too hot or too cold and turns the heat on or off. The thermostat can perform this task because it can receive information (the temperature of the room) and take corrective action. Double-loop learning occurs when error is detected and corrected in ways that involve the modification of an organization’s underlying norms, policies and objectives.
Single-loop learning seems to be present when goals, values, frameworks and, to a significant extent, strategies are taken for granted. The emphasis is on ‘techniques and making techniques more efficient’ (Usher and Bryant: 1989: 87) Any reflection is directed toward making the strategy more effective. Double-loop learning, in contrast, ‘involves questioning the role of the framing and learning systems which underlie actual goals and strategies (op. cit.). In many respects the distinction at work here is the one used by Aristotle, when exploringtechnical andpractical thought. The former involves following routines and some sort of preset plan – and is both less risky for the individual and the organization, and affords greater control. The latter is more creative and reflexive, and involves consideration notions of the good. Reflection here is more fundamental: the basic assumptions behind ideas or policies are confronted… hypotheses are publicly tested… processes are disconfirmable not self-seeking (Argyris 1982: 103-4).
The next step that Argyris and Schön take is to set up two models that describe features of theories-in-use that either inhibit or enhance double-loop learning. The belief is that all people utilize a common theory-in-use in problematic situations. This they describe as Model I – and it can be said to inhibit double-loop learning. Model II is where the governing values associated with theories-in-use enhance double-loop learning.
Model I and Model II
Argyris has claimed that just about all the participants in his studies operated from theories-in-use or values consistent with Model I (Argyris et al. 1985: 89). It involves ‘making inferences about another person’s behaviour without checking whether they are valid and advocating one’s own views abstractly without explaining or illustrating one’s reasoning’ (Edmondson and Moingeon 1999:161). The theories-in-use are shaped by an implicit disposition to winning (and to avoid embarrassment). The primary action strategy looks to the unilateral control of the environment and task plus the unilateral protection of self and others. As such Model I leads to often deeply entrenched defensive routines (Argyris 1990; 1993) – and these can operate at individual, group and organizational levels. Exposing actions, thoughts and feelings can make people vulnerable to the reaction of others.
Chris Argyris looks to move people from a Model I to a Model II orientation and practice – one that fosters double-loop learning. He suggests that most people, when asked, will espouse Model II. As Anderson (1997) has commented, Argyris offers no reason why most people espouse Model II. In addition, we need to note that the vast bulk of research around the models has been undertaken by Argyris or his associates.

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...Unit 1 Assignment: Case Study Read the Unit 1 Assignment Case Study. The case study involves a serial murder case and describes how the offender used technology to avoid apprehension as well as how technology was used by the police to search and apprehend the offender. For this week’s Assignment complete the tables below listing the various technologies utilized and describing how they were used to avoid apprehension as well as to locate the offender. List the technology that the offender used in the case study from Chapter 1 in your text. | Describe how the offender used the technology to avoid apprehension in each instance. | 1.Cellular phone | 1. they were able to block the numbers to private | 2.Police radio | 2. gang members would take turns monitoring it. | 3. Night vision | 3. to watch for the police | 4. call-forwarding | 4. a scheme that could use private numbers so it cannot be traced. | 5. Internet | 5. They posted messages and emails | The police used technology to search for the offender. List the different types of technology and how the technology was used to locate the offender. List the different types of technology used to search for the offender in the case study from Chapter 1 in your text. | Describe how the technology was used to locate the offender in each instance. | 1. video monitor | 1. read the label on gang items miles away | 2. night vision and thermal imaging gear | 2. being able to see if anyone was hiding...

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