Saturday, February 5, 2011

Learning To Work

Quite possibly for the first time ever, I am glad to have been assigned a particular book as a "textbook." I had to first get over the rather nebulous term "evaluative inquiry" and move on. You should too. "Evaluative Inquiry for Learning in Organizations" is all about the changes happening in our workplaces and economy and how we can be more effective working as teams. Whether we like it or not, we are moving into an era where knowledge is the key to prosperity. Ironically, sharing and continued learning, rather than hoarding information, is critical to success. As PF Drucker stated, knowledge "constantly makes itself obsolete, with the result that today's advanced knowledge is tomorrow's ignorance."

"Evaluative inquiry" is a method of evaluation which accepts and thrives upon regular review of our goals and progress as we move forward. A team working together with excitement and commitment to a common goal is capable of far more than would seem possible.

Preskill & Torres point out that a team's ability to work together will not happen instantly. No doubt we would agree everyone comes around at their own pace. Most of us have been taught (or inadvertently trained) NOT to share. The book outlines ways to create effective teams. Effective teams result in effective organizations, making this worthwhile for any individual or leader.

Some key quotes:

Adults learn most effectively when there is
* A perceived need for new knowledge or skills
* An opportunity to apply what has been learned
* An emphasis on integrating new learning with what is already known
* An appreciation for past experiences

Creating the environment for individuals to learn means that organization members must
* Have accurate and complete information
* Be free from coercion and distorting self-perception
* Be open to alternative perspectives
* Be able to reflect critically on presuppositions and their consequences
* Have equal opportunity to participate
* Be able to accept an informed, objective, and rational consensus as a legitimate test of validity.

The authors point out that "discussion" comes from similar root as percussion (breaking apart) whereas "dialog" can be thought of as "a stream of meaning flowing through and among us where the goal is a spirit of understanding, not competition of ideas."

I'm not sure I'll use the formal evaluation process, but it is encouraging to have it so plainly described. The abundance of practical examples and outlines should make a useful reference, but I am most impressed by the early chapters and the potential to use evaluative inquiry with informal team "projects."

- posted (messed up?) from Blogpress on iPad

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