Emergent Learning
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What is Emergent Learning?

In complex and changing situations, there are no right answers…, at least not for very long. Our answers are really hypotheses that represent our current best thinking about what it will take to get the results we intend.

Emergent Learning enables organizations or networks to adapt their strategies and action plans, in-course, to achieve the results they want. Through Emergent Learning, know-how emerges in the course of doing work (in contrast to learning that happens away from work in a classroom setting).

Emergent Learning is pragmatic, so it means overcoming challenges, especially those that have no simple solutions, but require discipline, ongoing attention, learning through experience, and adaptation.

“Emergent” in three ways:

  1. Learning emerges from the work itself, because learning is built directly into the flow of work.
  2. Know-how emerges and is refined through successive iterations. Over time, proficiency is built through repeated comparisons of intended and actual results.
  3. By taking on each new challenge with the intention to learn, success starts to accumulate in one setting after another, creating a positive track record and a confidence that encourages groups to raise the bar on their own performance.

What is an Emergent Learning "Practice"?

An Emergent Learning practice entails a systematic approach to using existing challenges and opportunities as the grist for developing skills, know-how and good practices.

Every organization faces challenges for which there is no single right solution. Such challenges need to be addressed by building mastery in the way people think and act, and are the “practice areas” where Emergent Learning typically adds the greatest value.

Having identified its key challenges, the organization or team can consciously prepare to learn from each cycle of action; each wave of deployment means applying insights from one to the next... and therefore quickly, better results.

Emergent Learning tools such as EL Maps and the Action Review Cycle help people:

  1. Step into a situation with the clear intention to learn.
  2. Articulate assumptions and metrics.
  3. Focus attention and gather data on what happens during the action.
  4. Reflect on the interim results – and adjust course.
  5. Do this over and over again (continually improve outcomes).

Can your people name a performance target and hit it, regardless of what situations they encounter?.

EL Map is a trademark of Signet Research & Consulting, LLC.

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