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Jeffery David Whippo Shares His Thoughts on Single-Loop Learning Versus Double-Loop Learning

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Jeffery David Whippo Shares His Thoughts on Single-Loop Learning Versus Double-Loop Learning

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Jeffery David Whippo, a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with a Doctorate in Business Administration says that according to Chris Argyris and Donald Schon, who originated the terms, "single-loop learning" is correcting an action to solve or avoid a mistake, while "double-loop learning" is also correcting the underlying causes behind the problem. Jeff believes that organizational learning is all about detecting and correcting error.

Jeffery David Whippo, a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with a Doctorate in Business Administration says that according to Chris Argyris and Donald Schon, who originated the terms, "single-loop learning" is correcting an action to solve or avoid a mistake, while "double-loop learning" is also correcting the underlying causes behind the problem. Jeff believes that organizational learning is all about detecting and correcting error.

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Jeffery David Whippo Shares His Thoughts on Single-Loop Learning Versus Double-Loop Learning

  1. 1. Jeffery David Whippo Shares His Thoughts on Single-Loop Learning Versus Double-Loop Learning Jeffery David Whippo, a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with a Doctorate in Business Administration says that according to Chris Argyris and Donald Schon, who originated the terms, “single-loop learning” is correcting an action to solve or avoid a mistake, while “double-loop learning” is also correcting the underlying causes behind the problem. Jeff believes that organizational learning is all about detecting and correcting error. Whippo explains that single-loop learning happens when this process of identifying error enables the organization to carry on its present policies of achieve its objectives. He indicates that a practical example of single-loop learning could be the automatic air conditioning thermostat in your home or office. The thermostat learns when it is either too hot or too cold inside and then turns the heat or air conditioning on or off to meet a set desired temperature. Jeffery Whippo indicates that to take this example a step further, if the thermostat could question itself about whether or not it should be set at 68 degrees, then it would not only be cable of detecting error (that the temperature was not 68 degrees) but it would be capable of questioning the underlying policies and goals, as well as the reasoning behind the set temperature. He says this is demonstrating a second and much more comprehensive inquiry, therefore setting an example of double-loop learning. Another example Whippo says would be when production managers of a medical device company were detecting and attempting to correct an error in order to manufacture their new trocar, that was single
  2. 2. loop learning. However, Jeff explains, when the production managers and marketing managers began to confront the questions surround whether or not their new trocar should be manufactured at all, that was double-loop learning, due to the fact that they were now questioning underlying organizational policies and objectives. Jeff Whippo strongly believes that double-loop learning is more difficult than single-loop learning as it requires three skills: 1. Self-awareness to recognize what is often unconscious or habitual 2. Honesty or candour to admit mistakes and discuss with colleagues to discover and validate causes 3. Taking responsibility to act appropriately on what is learned. Jeff says that according to Argyris, “today, facing competitive pressures an earlier generation could hardly have imagined…leaders and subordinates alike…must all begin struggling with a new level of self-awareness, candor, and responsibility” (Argyris, 1994).

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