Monday, November 2, 2009

Complex Challenges and the need to Transform our Thinking

As I read different materials for work that I am engaged in, I am often struck by how the different ideas complement one another. A friend of mine recently sent me some material from a book (Community Conversations by Paul Born). In an introductory paragraph, the author names a challenge: the issues facing communities and those at risk are complex - and yet the system yields simplistic solutions. In a textbook for executive coaches ( Ed. Fitzgerald and Garvey Berger, 2002 Executive Coaching Practices & Perspectives) an overview is given of Robert Kegan's adult development model and summarizes its essence as follows: "Kegan distinguishes between informational learning, which is new knowledge added to the current from of one's mind, and transformational learning, or learning that changes the very form of one's mind, making it more spacious, more complex, and more able to deal with multiple demands and with uncertainty...transformation occurs when we develop the ability to step back and reflect on something that used to be hidden or taken for granted and make decision about it....transformative learning happens when someone changes "not just they way he behaves, not just the way he feels, but the way he knows - not just what he knows but the way he knows". "
My conclusion is that transformational learning will prepare our minds for the complex challenges we are facing. To address the complex challenges that exist in our world, in our communities, and in our organizations, I need to be open to transformative learning experiences. The question then becomes how do each of us do this - find and engage in transformative learning experiences. The imperative certainly seems to be present!

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