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

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  1. The social structure of cultural change: Damon Centola

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    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....
  2. Where the tipping point missed the point

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    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...
  3. Why tightness is terrible and terrific

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    Michele Gelfand’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...
  4. Marga Biller

    Understanding Culture by David Perkins

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    As Dave Perkins shared prior to his synthesis, this is not an attempt to summarize everything that the LILA community explored during the October 2016 gathering, rather it is a way a 64,000 view that might help advance our thinking on the topic.   Defining Adaptive Cultures Individual cultural knowledge is largely tacit – we don’t know what we know (we just behave) Iceberg: like the being roughly 90% under water, not knowing like this is not just limited to culture, but to all fluent knowledge (example of grammar, used implicitly) The 10% of explicit knowledge is very important to...
  5. Marga Biller

    The Science of Evolution: What Makes Humans So Different

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    LILA October guest Michael Muthukrishna has written about how culture has evolved in the human species, and this perspective can help us begin our exploration of adaptive cultures in organizations. Muthukrishna and co-authors argue that humans are “an ‘evolved cultural species,’” which “has evolved to socially transmit complex behavior-shaping information between generations” (Chudek, Muthukrishna, & Henrich, 2015, p. 2). Our species has attained “cumulative cultural evolution,” which is where our culturally transmitted behaviors “are more complex, sophisticated and well-adapted than anything a single asocial or non-cultural individual could devise alone in their lifetime” (p. 2). No single person could ever re-create the world we live in.
  6. Marga Biller

    Unlearning to Learn – LILA Summit Animation

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    One of the ways in which LILA supports the learning of its members is to create an animated short presenting key ideas from the year long exploration.  The theme during the 2013-2014 season was Unlearning to Learn.  Below is the transcript from the animation in case you would like to read more about what is presented in the animation. Unlearning to Learn This year at LILA, we take a whirlwind tour of unlearning, approaching it from three angles: mindsets, habits, and systems. Here, we take stock of our two main quests around unlearning: understanding it and fostering it. Unlearning...
  7. Sue Borchardt

    October 2016 Animation: Understanding Culture in Organizations

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    The sheer scope of Culture’s sweep makes a pithy definition difficult, a challenge further amplified by the dynamic, overlapping, and nested cultural contexts we strive to make sense of. Culture is often named as contributing to the success or failure of organizational efforts such as globalization, mergers & acquisitions, and cultivating diversity. One place to start when exploring whether and how cultural forces might be leveraged to help organizations adapt to internal and external change, is by asking: how do cultures work? and how do they adapt?
  8. Marga Biller

    April 2016 Animation: Paradoxes of Learning and Performance

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    Comment
    This animation represents the sensemaking by the LILA community based on the ideas shared by guest speakers Jennifer Garvey-Berger and Chris Kayes. To continue the conversation, add a comment after viewing this animation. 1. What idea(s) sparked your interest? 2. How did it enhance your thinking? 3. What might you try based on the ideas?
  9. Marga Biller

    A Deeper Dive Into Deliberately Developmental Organizations

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    As a current LILA member you are invited to an exclusive three-hour workshop with Bob Kegan and Andy Fleming (CEO, Way to Grow INC) on Wednesday, June 8th from 1:30-4:30 p.m. at Harvard Graduate School of Education in Cambridge, MA. The workshop will serve as a natural follow-up to Bob’s session on Tuesday and delve deeper into the principles and practices of Deliberately Developmental Organizations™ (DDOs). Bob and Andy also look forward to sharing highlights from their initial work using their proprietary DDO Assessment℠. This survey instrument measures the current “developmental-richness” of an organization’s culture and spotlights specific behavioral gaps that organizations need to address to become more developmental for all of their people.

Harvard Graduate School of Education