The Unlearning Organisation LO9684

Martin Wood (
Mon, 02 Sep 1996 18:19:49 +0100

Replying to LO9613 --

In msg LO9613, Julie Beedon <> comments:

> What sort of learning is unlearning - what other words might you
> use for it which might help me grasp it - have you any metaphors
> which might help me model it further???

I'd also felt that the word "unlearning" wasn't quite appropriate, and
wondered if it was worth re-visiting the unfreeze-move-refreeze model that
Kurt Lewin used to help explain/manage significant change (according to my
notes, it was set out in Lewin K., "Group Decisions and Social Change" in
MacCobby E.E., Newcomb T.M. & Hartley E.L. (Eds) Readings in Social
Psychology, Holt, Reinhart & Winston, 1958).

Summarising, the "unfreezing" stage is one where there a recognition that
things have to change, and a willingness to make a change. "Move" is when
change take place, and the "refreeze" stage is when all the changes are in
place, and everyone (in theory) settles down to the new way of "doing
things round here". Personally, I think that the term "re-freezing" isn't
very helpful these days ( ... but that's another story ... )

But then I guess that Keith Cowan was thinking along similar lines when in
LO9632 he wrote:

> This is the "unfreezing" step which involves them accepting that
> something better for them may result from their action.
> So the essence of this discussion might centre on what it is that
> constitutes the impetus for the change to happpen. To cause this
> unfreezing take take place amoung the INDIVIDUALS that make up any
> organization?

To effect real, lasting change, it seems to me that the change has to be
felt at an emotional level in an individual. As to what triggers it, that
could be one of many things. For example, a salesman faced with a
succession of potential customers saying "it's the wrong product for this
day and age" or a rival product manager watching the TV ad of Proctor &
Gamble's new detergent and thinking "there goes this year's sales if I
don't do something fast". Anyone else care to take up Keith's train of
thought ?

Martin Wood - Communications and Media Division, EDS UK         Tel: +44 1908 284050
The views above are mine, and not necessarily those of EDS

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