Facilitate Team Learning Articles and Videos

When people work together as a team, they create shared experiences that they can learn from. As a leader, you are expected to facilitate this experiential learning process. Learning is how teams solve problems and overcome challenges. When a team bounces back from adversity, learning is how they adapt and grow together. Learning makes the team more resilient. You can initiate the learning process by ensuring that your team is constantly reflecting on its past and present experiences to assess performance and find ways to improve. As your team develops new ideas for improvement and change, you will need to approve and prioritize those ideas. Most importantly, it’s your responsibility to make sure these ideas get put into action, tested, and validated. Some ideas will work; some will not. Either way, team learning has occurred.

See the Facilitate Team Learning Competency Domain leader tasks and supporting knowledge.   

Magazine and Newsletter Articles

Teaching Smart People How to Learn

First, most people define learning too narrowly as mere “problem solving,” so they focus on identifying and correcting errors in the external environment. Solving problems is important. But if learning is to persist, managers and employees must also look inward. They need to reflect critically on their own behavior, identify the ways they often inadvertently contribute to the organization’s problems, and then change how they act. In particular, they must learn how the very way they go about defining and solving problems can be a source of problems in its own right. I have coined the terms “single loop” and “double loop” learning to capture this crucial distinction.

Chris Argyris in Harvard Business Review

Speeding Up Team Learning

Most teams become proficient at new tasks or processes over time. But time is a luxury few teams – or companies – have. If you move too slowly, you may find that competitors are reaping the benefits of a new technology while you’re still in the learning stages or that an even newer technology has superseded the one you’re finally integrating into your work. The challenge of team management these days is not simply to execute existing processes efficiently. It’s to implement new processes – as quickly as possible.

Amy Edmondson, Richard Bohmer, and Gary Pisano in Harvard Business Review

Overcome Resistance to Change with Two Conversations

Effective change management is critical to the vitality and progress of every organization. Where most people trip up is in failing to manage resistance effectively. Doing so requires an ability to listen to your opposition, diagnose their antipathy, consider their thoughts and feelings, and explain how it has changed your thinking, if not your plan. This is a time-consuming but effective process.

Sally Blount and Shana Carroll in Harvard Business Review

How to Push Your Team to Take Risks and Experiment

Most people have an ingrained assumption that all problems have a single right answer, a mentality that most schools and workplaces reinforce. Don’t expect your staff to change that mental model overnight, or on their own. You’ve got to retrain them in how to think. I do this by employing a divergent thinking program. Divergent thinking is different from creative thinking. It’s not the ability to come up with an original idea, but the ability to come up with lots of different answers to the same question. Divergent thinking looks more like insatiable curiosity than like original ideas. It is an essential skill for innovation because it provides team members with the foundation to create great tests.

Sara Critchfield in Harvard Business Review

In Praise of Middle Managers

Middle managers, it turns out, make valuable contributions to the realization of radical change at a company – contributions that go largely unrecognized by most senior executives. These contributions occur in four major areas. First, middle managers often have value-adding entrepreneurial ideas that they are able and willing to realize – if only they can get a hearing. Second, they’re far better than most senior executives are at leveraging the informal networks at a company that make substantive, lasting change possible. Third, they stay attuned to employees’ moods and emotional needs, thereby ensuring that the change initiative’s momentum is maintained. And finally, they manage the tension between continuity and change – they keep the organization from falling into extreme inertia, on the one hand, or extreme chaos, on the other.

Quy Nguyen Huy in Harvard Business Review

Strategies For Learning From Failure

First, failure is not always bad. In organizational life it is sometimes bad, sometimes inevitable, and sometimes even good. Second, learning from organizational failures is anything but straightforward. The attitudes and activities required to effectively detect and analyze failures are in short supply in most companies, and the need for context-specific learning strategies is underappreciated. Organizations need new and better ways to go beyond lessons that are superficial (“Procedures weren’t followed”) or self-serving (“The market just wasn’t ready for our great new product”). That means jettisoning old cultural beliefs and stereotypical notions of success and embracing failure’s lessons.

Amy C. Edmondson in Harvard Business Review

Why Leaders Don’t Learn from Success

In this article we argue that success can breed failure by hindering learning at both the individual and the organizational level. We all know that learning from failure is one of the most important capacities for people and companies to develop. Yet surprisingly, learning from success can present even greater challenges.

Francesca Gino and Gary P. Pisano in Harvard Business Review

Supporting Videos

5 Ways to Lead in an Era of Constant Change

Who says change needs to be hard? Organizational change expert Jim Hemerling thinks adapting your business in today’s constantly-evolving world can be invigorating instead of exhausting. He outlines five imperatives, centered around putting people first, for turning company reorganization into an empowering, energizing task for all.

 Jim Hemerling – TED BCG Paris

What Are You Willing to Give Up to Change the Way We Work?

What does it take to build the fast, flexible, creative teams needed to challenge entrenched work culture? For transformation expert Martin Danoesastro, it all starts with one question: “What are you willing to give up?” He shares lessons learned from companies on both sides of the innovation wave on how to structure your organization so that people at all levels are empowered to make decisions fast and respond to change.

Martin Danoesastro – TED BCG Toronto