Re: Learning vs. Innovation LO1468

Michael McMaster (
Wed, 31 May 1995 07:31:54 +0000

Replying to LO1437 --

The statement "we don't learn from experience" is meant to evoke
something. In that it has succeeded. And Diane points to a
significant part of that intention which is to realise that while we
say (think) the opposite, we have a great deal of experience which
suggests that people don't learn from experience. And we don't learn
from that (experience) - as her "interrupting" story pointed out.

When I was a young accountant taking over without transition coaching
from an experienced old accountant, I expressed my fear to the GM
saying, "He's had 20 years experience here. How can I do the job?"
The GM said, "Don't worry. He's only had 1 year's experience -
repeated 20 times."

>Diane says: I also wondered about the "something" (theory or concept)
>that Mike says we bring to our actions.

As Diane later points out, its not either/or. Of course, its _never_
experience alone nor what we bring to it (concept, theory) alone but
the interplay of the two. The point of the statement is that we live
in a culture (business) which focusses on experience and does not
value the mental or internal sources.

To paraphrase F. Varela in a sufficient but less than accurate way,
each neuron that receives stimulation from the external world
receives a multiple of inputs from the "internal world" and mediates
between them. That is, there _is_ no experience without the already
existing mental constrcuts.

The point of the statement of mine is to get theory, thinking,
abstract abilities back on the map. I do not use "mental model" in
my (linguistic) approach because it implies things that I don't agree
with. The first of these is that there is _a_ mental model or even a
specific set of mental models - too simplistic by far - and the
second is that a mental model is a result of some processes and
begins to reify the model and hence make it more difficult to deal

Michael McMaster