Kolb defines Experimental Learning Theory (ELT) as “the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of expertise” (2005, p.194). This unique understanding of “learning” classifies how people process information and experiences into future actions through specific patterns or modes. By understanding which combination of the four modes individuals use to make sense of experiences and transform them into knowledge, education and the process of creating knowledge can be best facilitated. We will briefly explore how my Kolb learning style of “Converging” frames my understanding and ultimately my approach to studies.
Converging Learning Style
With a combination of Abstract Conceptualization (AC) and Active Experimentation (AE) learning abilities, I tend to excel at “finding practical uses for ideas and theories” (Kolb and Kolb, 2005, p.197) and solve new problems with previous, learned solutions (Manolis et al., 2012). Learning is expedited when I can experiment with new concepts on a “first hand” basis, in other words learning by ‘doing’. With this learning tendency identified I can revisit some of the key concepts covered in this module and identify opportunities to actively test them in order to make sense and apply them in my daily work environment. Currently I am working on secondment in India, without my normal managerial duties. My review of five key concepts covered in this module include some immediate active learning approaches that I have already implemented and future “experiments” for I when I am interacting with my team in Geneva.
Immediate approaches to reduce stress and critically reflective leading
Cryer, McCraty and Childre looked at stress in the work place and when how our internal reactions to negative situations accumulate over time can lead to depression, fatigue and poor job performance (2003, p.102). They presented techniques to enable individuals to address the physiological affects of stress before they take grip, reducing the associated short and long term health affects. For the past several months I have been working through a number of high stress situations, both personal and professional. As a “doer” I have already taken their techniques and practiced them. I have learned, through active experimentation, to recognize when to stop and disengage from stressful situations and control my heart rate through breathing, steps one and two of Cryer, McCraty and Childre’s “inner quality management” (p.105).
Staying cool in stressful situations is an essential skill for managers and leaders. People are looking to them to make sense of a situation and provide direction. Cunliffe argues that leaders should learn to be more critically reflective to better understand how their words and actions affect those around them (2004, p.408) and how they construct social and organizational realities (p.414). I have started to keep a regular journal where I document one moment of the day. I write down my observations of how I interacted with others, my interpretations of the situation and other’s reactions. Through this exercise I am able to question my assumptions of the situation, observe how my actions may be negatively affecting others and identify how I can maintain responsive, health interactions with people (p.418).
Future experiments on resilience and tackling wicked problems
Much of this module has looked at the growing complexity of problems companies are tackling. In these problems, managers and leaders need to overcome enormous challenges and obstacles to deliver results to key stakeholders. These “wicked problems” have: complex interlocking issues, multiple stakeholders and changing constraints that make difficult, if not impossible, to define the problem (Conklin and Weil, 1997). Conklin and Weil continue to propose non-linear problem solving techniques to help solve these problems. I plan on testing several of their techniques on the next wicked problem…