Friday, 6 June 2014

Flexibility and Learning

Following on from out Outcome Thinking which we looked at on May 8th (in case you have forgotten...) This article looks at how we learn from what we do and how being flexible in thought will help us achieve our Outcomes that we have set.

What is Flexibility?

One of the core beliefs in NLP is that the person with the most flexibility has the most influence in any given interaction.  This belief comes from the Law of Requisite Variety, which is from systems theory.

What this means is that it is important to be able to vary your response to possible change and uncertainty around you, so that you have alternative choices available to you.  By knowing your outcome from the start will mean that you can decide what choices you might need so that you can respond immediately with a reaction that has been thought through rather than reflexively and possible chaotically!

Why is it useful

If we understand that what we are doing (in thought or behaviours) isn't working it is much more useful to already have thought through more choices so that we can quickly and effectively change what we are doing in order to reach our outcome.  It is said that 'if what you are doing isn't working do something different - do anything different!'  If what you are doing has proved to not be effective then it does not seem a good use of time and energy to continually prove this to yourself.

It is useful to think about the implication that if you come across resistance in another person then it is probable that there is inflexibility in you in this particular situation.  So if you are confronting resistance in others then look to yourself to see where you are not being flexible.

How to use it

If you are getting stuck in your communication or when using particular techniques, because they worked before, then take a step back and look at coming at the issue from another approach. - Remember if something is not working then do something, anything differently.

We also need flexibility when we are looking at how we learn and there are two frameworks to keep in mind.

The first model is from the work of Chris Argyris.  He described the concept of single loop and double loop learning.  With single loop learning we continually attempt to work out a way of achieving our goal using the same method of thinking and behaviours and without questioning the goal we are working towards.  With double loop learning an individual or organisation is able, having attempted to achieve a goal on different occasions, to modify the goal in the light of experience or possibly even reject the goal.

The second model you may have seen as a learning ladder looking from moving between unconscious and conscious competence and incompetence.  The version below takes into account mature reflection and practice throughout the process and is courtesy of Will Taylor, Chair, Department of Homeopathic Medicine, National College of Natural Medicine, Portland, Oregon, USA, March 2007

"We revisit conscious incompetence, making discoveries in the holes in our knowledge and skills, becoming discouraged, which fuels incentive to proceed (when it does not defeat). We perpetually learn, inviting ongoing tutelage, mentoring and self-study (ongoing conscious competence). We continually challenge our 'unconscious competence' in the face of complacency, areas of ignorance, unconscious errors, and the changing world and knowledge base: We challenge our unconscious competence when we recognize that a return to unconscious incompetence would be inevitable. We do this in part by self-study and use of peer review - such that mature practice encompasses the entire 'conscious competence' model, rather than supersedes it as the hierarchical model might suggest."

By understanding these models and how we learn we can raise our ability to be flexible in our thinking which means we can create and achieve our goals and outcomes.

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