LILA ~ Learning Innovations Laboratory at the Harvard Graduate School of Education

Looking for content and documents from our Gatherings? Login

  1. Daniel Wilson

    Frustrated or flourishing? Three ways we make sense of challenges at work

    Sally Maitlis shared her research which revealed that, in the face of challenges, there are three pathways that workers take:   Identity Path: in the face of threats, they rely on their sense of who they are Contribution Path: in the face of threat, they try and use their skills to help Practice Path: in the face of challenges, they learn skills as part of the work   What’s important is that these paths explain different outcomes of employees – the identity and contribution paths lead to frustration, burn-out and leaving the organization. Only the practice path, which is about...
  2. Daniel Wilson

    Growing through loss: How we make sense from trauma

    How do people overcome devastating and traumatic experiences and grow? Sally studied artists who experienced injuries that resulted in which they couldn’t do their art anymore. These are experienced as highly distressing, traumatic, and threatens their core identity. It’s about loss. These events trigger sensemaking: who am I? What is my place in the world?   People who grow from these events create meanings: The injury as growth or loss: while painful, it helped them grow by opening up new worlds and possibility, made them stronger, or revealed some deeper struggle that could be resolved. Others didn’t grow and instead...
  3. Daniel Wilson

    When we are uncertain, we turn to our group

    Michael Hogg’s shared his research on the role social identity and uncertainty. Just giving a groups a categorical names can create in group and out group dynamics: individuals trust, favor and conform to their in group and distrust, discriminate, and compete with the out group.   This research forms the foundation of social identity theory – the relationship between self and group. And what motivates this is often feeling better about oneself.   Michael’s work looks more specifically at a specific kind of uncertainty, identity uncertainty.   Overall, individuals are motivated to reduce uncertainty. And there are many sources of identity uncertainty –...
  4. Daniel Wilson

    The social structure of cultural change: Damon Centola

    A dominant theory cultural norms are functional, but Damon provoked us to consider that there are cases in which norms are not functional at all, and can even be dysfunctional. Conformity norms stifle speaking up, for example which is seen in the Emperor’s New Clothes story and Stalin’s Russia. Such norms often comes from some sense of exogenous authority that dictate a behavior (political science), or sense of what is better (behavioral economics), or snow-ball effects of what’s popular (sociology). But all of these explanations assume there is awareness of all these things and they are valuable in some way....
  5. Daniel Wilson

    Where the tipping point missed the point

    Damon Centola’s work unpacked assumptions in networks that related to how ideas/behavior spread through networks via “strong vs. weak” ties.  For many years, and argued well in Gladwell’s Tipping Point, the belief was that all ideas spread like viruses through networks. Daemon’s work points out that what is important is the distinction between simple contagions (ideas/actions that requires a single contact) vs complex contagions (ideas/actions that require multiple contacts and social reinforcement). Many cultural practices require social reinforcement, particularly when there is uncertainty & risk, run against norms, or interdependence with other technologies. What is important to know is how complex...
  6. Daniel Wilson

    Why tightness is terrible and terrific

    Michele Galfand’s work in social psychology explores how micro changes in behaviors connect to larger shifts in values in cultures? Her work has looked the effect of social norms across cultures. Her concept is that there are qualitative differences in tight groups (with strong norms, litter tolerance for deviance, more orderly) vs. loose groups (weak norms, high tolerance for deviance, less orderly). Her research showed that tight groups coordinate well amidst threats of survival, both human made (e.g. tribal conflicts) and natural (e.g. natural disasters).  Tightness can be activated, too, by real of natural threats. And the situations, such as libraries...
  7. Daniel Wilson

    Conversational Moves That Matter: Bridging Learning Outcomes and Patterns of Speech in Informal Cross- Organizational Conversations Among Top-Level Leaders

    LILA Research published in Sage Publications: Cross-organizational “learning conversations” are an important source of informal learning among professionals, though little is known about whether specific characteristics of conversational interaction contribute to different learning outcomes in such conversations.
  8. Daniel Wilson

    Working through the organizational “F” word: Failure.

    Jennifer’s ideas made us wonder: Maybe “failure” is the obscenity in organizations that gets in the way of learning? Is curiosity the energy in the tension of learning & performance?   She reminds us that learning and adapting are more useful in complex systems than predicting and planning. So failure is a necessary part of growth, development, and learning.   What moves us through the necessity of failure? Perhaps courage is part of the answer. When we fail but don’t grow we experience shame, rejection, loss of identity, isolation, judgment, etc.   When we fail and we experience these things, too, but...
  9. Daniel Wilson

    Living in a “or AND and” world

    Jennifer Garvey Berger reminds us of the Cynefin framework that describes two world states: the predictable world (obvious and complicated) and the unpredictable world (complex and chaotic). DW: I’m reminded that these four “worlds” are both objective and subjective. That is my 7 year old might experience something as chaotic or complex while I might experience it as obvious or complicated. Also, while I also appreciate this framework, where things often get tricky for me is when these worlds become nested – inside a “complex” experience or problem, there often are “complicated” and “obvious” sub-problems. So diagnosing the nature of a problem feels like the right move, toggling between the worlds in real-time is often the big challenge. How to create the spaces, tools, structures that support the skills but also the toggling feels tricky.
  10. Daniel Wilson

    Learning & Performing (Chris Kayes)

    A big idea that I took away was the role of curiosity and safe risks to support individual and group learning. And I’m wondering how the opposite of curiosity and safe risk -- confidence and “safe routines” – might work against learning and support performance. My guess is that In short, Kayes noted from his work that a key individual factor that predicts learning is “open to new experiences.” A key team processes that predict learning is psychological safety and supervisory support. DW: Being open to novelty is a hallmark of conceptual frameworks of curiosity. And that makes intuitive sense in terms of the role it plays in individual learning. Psych safety and the leader role are also well established in team learning literature, so good to see it here. However, it raises a question in me: I wonder how their opposites, such as indifference, confidence, normality, and routines, might explain individual and team performance?

Harvard Graduate School of Education