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

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  1. Marga Biller

    Know What You Don’t Know : How Great Leaders Prevent Problems Before They Happen

    Michael Roberto shared his finding that leaders at all levels must hone their skills as problem-finders to identify and correct problems and prevent catastrophe. Roberto identifies seven skills and capabilities necessary to become an effective problem-finder. To research this point, extensive interviews were conducted with roughly 150 managers of enterprises from private and public sector, often across different levels within the same company. Individuals were asked to describe how they tried to prevent failures from taking place. Roberto identifies seven skills and capabilities necessary to become an effective problem-finder. This reminded me of the work that Markus Baer presented describing the issues that experts face in problem formulation. He mentioned that expertise can make it difficult to make sense of things collectively and that expertise impacts collective sense-making. Therefore, he proposed that problem solving may be better thought of as problem formulation. Moving straight to problem solving can create problems; it often works better to focus more energy on formulating the problem. To read the summary of Michael Roberto book titled: Know What You Don’t Know : How Great Leaders Prevent Problems Before They Happen click the more button.
  2. Marga Biller

    Unlearning in Action: Practice Without Helmets to Reduce Concussions

    Concussions are a big problem for football teams. To address the problem, new regulations were issued regarding safe tackling. This presents a challenge for players who were taught to tackle using their helmet (head first). So how to help them unlearn this practice and learn a new technique that will lead to safer ways to tackle and reduce concussions? Enter Erik Swartz, a University of New Hampshire professor of kinesiology who studies movement. He suggests that getting to the root of the problem – technique may do the trick. Instead of clashing helmet-first, he suggests that the better approach is...
  3. Marga Biller

    Genesis of GPS as Flexpertise

    "An environment that encouraged people to think broadly and generally about task problems and one in which inquisitive kids felt free to follow their curiosity." Equally important, it was an environment wherein kids with an initial success could turn to colleagues who were broadly expert in relevant tasks, because of the genius of the Laboratory Directorship, colleagues who were also knowledgable about hardware, weapons and weapons needs. Finally we agree that it probably couldn't have happened without Frank McClure and Dick Kershner. They were unique."
  4. Michele Rigolizzo

    Transparency & Unlearning with Ethan Bernstein

    Transparency – there is a gospel of transparency in leadership in organizations. The concept went from ‘being able to see’ to a broader definition of openness and freedom of information. But there was an unanswered question in this assumption of transparency as good - does transparency increase productivity? Ethan conducted a field experiment in a factory in China that was, at the time, following all best practices.
  5. Marga Biller

    Innovation Adoption as Unlearning with Janet Pogue

    Key Questions/Themes: What behaviors currently inhibit innovations that need to be ‘unlearned’ and what new behaviors need to be supported or encouraged? How can ‘triggers’ and/or the physical environment be leveraged to reinforce behavioral change? How can we engage early adopters in making the innovation their own? And then, foster to go viral? Summary of Session Content Janet Pogue is a Principal in Gensler’s Washington D.C. office. She co-leads the firm’s Workplace Practice and is a frequent writer and speaker on the critical issues affecting the design of high performing work environments. In this session, she shared on her views...
  6. Marga Biller

    April 2014: Changing Systems Animation

    This year at LILA, we explore the theme of unlearning, this time, adopting a systems perspective. Unlearning is what we face when we are trying to learn something new, but prior learning gets in the way. LILA’s own David Perkins notes that even though we can’t really UNlearn, it is helpful to have a name for this type of learning as it presents unique challenges. While trying harder often succeeds in moving outdated skills to the fringes of our repertoire, some things resist even our most earnest attempts at sidelining. In these stuck cases, Dave suggests that, instead of trying harder, we change the game. Before imagining how we might design game-changers for our organizations, we look at several tools, models, and theories to test if and how they might help us understand the nature of system stuckness.
  7. Marga Biller

    Unlearning to Learn: A 10,000 Foot View

    Unlearning to Learn:  A 10,000 Foot View David Perkins offered his third installment of a “10,000 ft.” view synthesizing where we are in our story about Unlearning for the year. He began by reminding us that our three “quests” have been to define, understand and foster Unlearning, and that today’s synthesis would focus on our progress in these quests through the systems lens. Defining Unlearning Perkins situated his synthesis by noting that from the start of the year we’ve held a big idea: unlearning is necessary when we face interference from prior learning. We’ve come to see, he says, that...
  8. Marga Biller

    Unlearning Urban Traffic Engineering and Street Design with Ben Hamilton-Baillie

    In our own organizations, we often try to improve performance by clearly defining work processes and procedures expecting that these will produce the expected outcomes. Yet in many cases they don’t. By exploring the Shared Space approach, we hope to gain some insights into such questions as: How might we identify what needs to be unlearned before trying a systemic change? What systemic mindsets and habits have to be unlearned before change can be initiated? Does unlearning have to occur simultaneously throughout the whole system or can it be a gradual and in pockets? How do you design systemic cues into the environment in order to prompt different actions and sustain the new behaviors ?

Harvard Graduate School of Education