Re: Learning vs. Innovation LO1437
Tue, 30 May 1995 18:46:22 -0400

Replying to LO1400 --

Michael McMaster's distinctions between learning and innovation provoked
some questions for me. I have found that people seem to learn best from
experience, so Mike's statement that "we don't learn from experience" took
me aback. I also wondered about the "something" (theory or concept) that
Mike says we bring to our actions.

If this "theory or concept" is the set of ideas and beliefs and operating
assumptions we humans collect over our lives (often referred to as our
mental models of how the world works), and thus is the framework or filter
that our perceptions go through as we make meaning of input from the
environment... then...

...I can see how you could say that the learning process involves a
combination of our experiences and our mental models. Our mental models
influence both our PERCEPTION (the things to which we pay attention) and
our INTERPRETATION of things (the meaning we make of our experiences or
observations) and thus influence what and how we learn.

This interpretation of Mike's comments allows for Argyris'
single-loop/double-loop learning theory, which another List Member
mentioned. For example, someone who constantly interrupts people in
conversation DOES NOT seem to learn from the experience of being told to
"stop interrupting." The admonition/advice does not get past the person's
set of filters and does not lead to learning. To be effective, the lesson
has to deal with the interrupter's mental models that drive the behavior.

It may appear that the interrupter is not learning from the experience of
being repeatedly told to stop interrupting, but this observation does not
support the conclusion that "we don't learn from experience." It's more a
matter of the wrong lesson being applied given the individual's mental
models. The issue seems to be a matter of "both/and": Learning results
from the interaction of our mental models AND our experiences.

Mike--If I have egregiously misinterpreted your meaning, please explain.

Diane Weston