Adaptive or single loop learning vs. generative or double loop learning:

Adaptive learning “focuses on solving problems in the present without examining the appropriateness of current learning behaviors,” on making “incremental improvements in existing products, markets, services, or technologies—often within the context of the firm’s preexisting track record of success.” Organization and thinking are often holdovers from previous environments or time periods and, because of this, these firms are often blind to current and changing realities. This often happens with successful and established organizations. Generative learning “emphasizes continuous experimentation and feedback in an ongoing examination of the very way organizations go about defining and solving problems.”

Generative learning needs to take place on several levels at once (by examining the external world, the manager’s own actions and problem-solving processes and the “organizational consciousness” that includes all of the former areas). Strong bureaucracies, excessive reliance on statistics, and a vertical flow of information all impede that broad view and the associated generative learning.

5 key needs for managers in generative learning organizations:
Openness: (letting go of the need for control; not believing your area and expertise is best (“cultural/functional humility”); cross-functional teams; ability to get as well as give candid feedback to employees; development programs that include mentorship, job rotation, and internal and external educational experiences; “absence of jargon, turf and expert domains; conflict-surfacing, conflict-resolving skills; ready availability of information to all members”)
Systemic thinking: “the ability to see connections between issues, events, and data ponts—the whole rather than its parts. It means framing structural relationships that resemble dynamic networks, as opposed to static, patterned interactions or relationships predicated on one’s position in the hierarchy.” Other traits: shares accurate institutional histories for continuity, recognizes importance of affective and intellectual relationships as well as traditional authoritative hierarchies; removes distinction between line employees and staff (or professional/academic staff and paraprofessionals/non-librarians, as the case may be); pays attention to interrelationships between organization and external world as well as across parts of organization.
Creativity: personal flexibility, willingness to take risks, tolerance for ambiguity, ability to change behavior to meet current challenges, willingness to fail. “Management in a learning organization requires an orientation which sees failure as feedback contributing to further creativity.” Ways to encourage: “long term rewards policies, mobility across divisions and functions, growth-oriented personal development, a supportive ‘clan’ culture”
Personal Efficacy: belief that you can and should influence your world. Traits: active self-awareness and proactive problem-solving. Typically managers have strong sense of goals and values but limited feedback from others about impact of their behavior. 360 degree assessment-not just manager assessing employee or employee self-assessment but also peers and subordinates and your supervisor’s supervisor. Also not a performance review but a “focus on people’s potential and capability.” Should let employees know what they do “makes a difference in specific ways.”
Empathy: Must have “motivation and means to repair relationships”—communications breakdowns, losses of confidence and trust, etc. Increasingly important in an internetworked world where informal networking is on the rise. Empathy helps prevent blaming others when things go wrong and resigning yourself to undesirable situations-2 common managerial tendencies. Managerial traits: strong sense of ethics in internal and external dealings; active corporate citizenship; recognition of employees’ external contributions; willingness to take responsibility for relationships