Reporting Org Bias to Increase Learning at Agile 2016

A workshop that I facilitated around cultivating a learning organisation for Agile 2016 had a section on understanding why we don’t learn, and the biases that prevent us from learning more effectively. Gino and Staats article on Why Organisations Don’t Learn published through the Harvard Business Review provided a great catalyst for an activity within my workshop.

The Experiment

Without identifying the biases, I asked everybody to denote where they felt that their organisation or team stood between the two extremes pictured … with a focus to not denote where they wanted it to be or where they personally fit the best.

With 38 individuals participating in this diagnostic, I then split the bar in 11 equal spots to represent -5 on the far left ranging to 5 on the far right, then simply added them for the scatter plot below.

Granted this was really supposed to simply be a self-awareness diagnostic as everybody had their own A3 page to do this, but the research freak inside of me thought “why not aggregate?” So, everybody’s first reflection was on their A3 and then they updated the flip chart sized paper to reflect the same spot.

With opinions recorded, I then identified and explained the specific bias for each set as presented by Tanmay Vora in the drawing below.


This was performed with an Agile-friendly group of individuals who already demonstrated a strong interest in learning for their organisation to even be attending my workshop. My curiosity is now to have individuals participate who are not in Agile friendly organisations and see what differences there may be.

Although disappointed with a lack of discernable pattern, there is also no terribly consistent spike, giving us a lot of room to help organisations develop awareness to break negative biases that block learning. Something that does strike me as very consistent with these biases is the approach we take in respecting individuals; something also that the Agile Manifesto helps us achieve.

Crossposted at LinkedIn

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About Marian

My passion is centered around ensuring effective learning experiences that improve people's lives. Developing a learning mindset is my ultimate goal whether working with academic programs or corporate training; formal or informal learning practices. It is my belief that our potential for agility is limited only by our capacity for learning.