Single Loop and Double Loop Learning

Chris Argyris explains organizational learning in terms if single- and double-loop learning, which refer to the process of identifying and correcting mistakes or problems within the organization. The single-loop learning is differentiated from the double-loop learning based on the actions taken on the governing variables within the organization (Smith, 2013). Single-loop learning refers to the process of detecting and correcting errors to allow an organization to carry out its activities based on existing policies and governing rules (Argyric & Schön, 1978). On the other hand, the double-loop learning entails identifying and correcting errors in a way that changes the existing organizational policies and norms.

The Five Learning Domains

These approaches are used in the five disciplines of learning organizations. In the system’s thinking domain, a double-loop learning is most appropriate because it focus on long-term view of the organization which influences the whole system rather than its constituent parts. The personal master learning is essentially based on single-loop learning because it entails developing personal vision which does not guarantee organizational learning (Smith, 2001). The single- and double-loop models affect the mental model by affecting the personal views of employees, while the double-loop learning involves changing the organizational values to change the culture and overall behavior or the company. Building a shared vision also involves a double-loop learning which transforms the image and direction of the entire organization (Senge, 1995). Lastly, team learning helps individuals to develop a double-loop transformation that influences the group as well as the entire organization by developing team capacities and integration.

Problems with Single-Loop Learning

One of the problems involved in a single-loop decision occurred when employees in our organization were required to spend more time at work to complete the increasing amount of tasks at the workplace. The solution turned out to be short term because the number of customers was increasing, and the resulting capacity would only be addressed by changing the hiring policy to bring more members on board to help in handling the increased workload. It reached a point where the existing employees would no longer meet the rising consumer demands, leading to burnout and high turnover. The problem could be solved by developing a double-loop learning strategy that incorporates long term recruitment plan that involves matching skills with recruitment needs of the organization.

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