Re: Unlearning

john mills (
Wed, 16 Nov 1994 17:44:06 +0000

My discomfort with the word "unlearning" was crystallised by Paul Zonca's
If I substitute the word "learning" where Paul puts "unlearning" and
substitute "unlearning" where he puts "learning" throughout the text I find
it makes sense.
See below and try it.
Does this mean learning and unlearning are not opposites but part of the
same learning process, at least in this context?
Anyhow until I see better I'll stick to 'unfreezing' and other sub
processes of learning (or unlearning?) described by Lewin, Nonaka and

>I believe Mikeg has hit upon a key point with "Unlearning". An organization
>that has successfully met market demands for it's products and or services
>over the course of it's history, will have a difficult time "unlearning"
>when the market shifts. The organizational will respond to the changing
>environment with the tried and true processes that have have made it
>a success in the past. As it responds to the new situation, one of two
>things will occur, it will succeed or it will fail. When it is succesful
>the tried and true is validated. When it fails, it either learns and adapts
>or it continues to respond the only way it knows how until it goes out of
>IMHO, an "unlearning" organization is constantly testing and validating it's
>assumptions of the market to ensure it's survival in the future. Those
>organizations that fail to adapt it's practices have crossed over the line
>from being self-aware to one of self-absorbed. The organization that is
>capable of "unlearning" is one that is aware of itself and that it is a part
>of the environment. "Unlearning" then becomes an act of "Learning" in that
>what worked or didn't work becomes known and more importantly the "why" it
>did or didn't work.
>Paul Zonca