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

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  1. Marga Biller

    Join us for the 13th Annual LILA Summit with Rob Cross and Ryan Quinn

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    This has been another intriguing year at LILA as we have taken on the theme of Collective Mindfulness: Shaping the Human Systems in Organizations. I hope that you will join us at this year’s LILA Summit on June 12th in Cambridge where the two keynote speakers are Rob Cross and Ryan Quinn. They will be joined by six past LILA faculty who will share their latest research with participants during small group conversations. In these sessions, you will have an opportunity to exchange ideas on how the research can inform your individual and organizational practices. The Summit is also a great occasion to meet and interact with the broader LILA community, including faculty, researchers, and current and past members, and to get a better sense as to who we are as a learning community and what you might experience as a member.
  2. Marga Biller

    What do the members in your organization actively do to pick up weak cues signaling threat and/or opportunity?

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    During the December 2018 LILA member call, Professor Claus Rerup provided some insights into these questions. His research focuses on what he identifies as attentional triangulation – how a group of people (e.g., teams and organizations) avoid missing cues about threat or opportunity. Paying attention to the right kinds of cues is likely a mechanism toward achieving this year’s theme of collective mindfulness. When teams and organizations do not act in collectively mindful ways and are on autopilot, it is likely at least in part through lack of attentional triangulation.
  3. Daniel Wilson

    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....
  4. Daniel Wilson

    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...
  5. Daniel Wilson

    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...
  6. Marga Biller

    What We Learned About Unlearning To Learn

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    This brief represents the culmination of our year of exploring the theme of unlearning to learn together. Over the course of the year, we have explored how we can best define, understand, and foster unlearning. Unlearning is learning to think, behave, or perceive differently, when there are already beliefs, behaviors, or assumptions in place (that get in the way), at either the individual or the organizational level. It becomes important when individuals, groups, and whole organizations have to find ways to effectively support change, overwrite old habits, surface and supplant entrenched ways of thinking, and develop new ways of working...
  7. Marga Biller

    Journal of Workplace Learning Publishes LILA Research on Informal Learning Conversations

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    Informal learning conversations with colleagues is a powerful yet understudied source of self-directed, professional development. This study investigated the types of learning 79 leaders from 22 organizations reported they learned from 44 peer-led conversations over a two-year period. Survey data suggests empirical evidence of five learning outcomes – informational, conceptual, operational, reflective, and social learning. The study describes these categories, the overall distribution of these types of learning in the community, and how most conversations were “rich” in a particular outcome. It concludes with possible explanations for these patterns as well as potential lines for future research.
  8. Marga Biller

    Leaders as Problem Finders

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    The LILA Community explored the Problem Finding Organization. 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.

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