Single –Loop Learning Vs. Double- Loop learning.

Single –Loop Learning Vs. Double- Loop learning.

In 2011 after starting Sudesh Int’l Consult, I encountered major setbacks that left the company in debt just a few months after launching, the entrepreneurial dream was dying. We bought a license at $2,494 using borrowed money to broadcast Chick-fil-a leadercast (Leadership training from the John Maxwell Company) via live stream and video and got no return on it. People were not willing to invest money in a streamed training but since we were determined to go on with the event we highly subsidized our tickets and made a huge loss.

Being the leader of my team, I did not know where to turn to keep the company going, I was emotionally drained, discouraged yet still optimistic. What do you do when faced with all the above challenges? You seek guidance, and that is what I did- sought mentorship from the Master Coach Phil who has coached and mentored me ever since then.

One of the most important things I have learnt from him both in speech and deed is his ability to make single and double- loop learning pivots(you are about to learn what this is exactly). For years after a project or setback he asks me “What did you learn from it?” To which I would reply what I had learnt. I have come to expect this question that I answer it before he even asks.

Why does Coach Phil ask this question especially after a failure? He knows that changing the way I think and behave in response to a failure is crucial to effective learning and effective learning is crucial to constant improvement.

These two terms were coined my management theorist Chris Argyris and here is what they mean;

Single-loop learning: “When the error is detected and corrected, permits the organization to carry on its policies or achieve its present objectives, then that error and correction process is single-loop learning.

Double –loop learning: It occurs when error is detected and corrected in ways that involve the modification of an organization’s underlying norms, policies and objectives.

After the major disaster with Chick-fil-A leadercast we (Sudesh Int’l Consult) had to do a lot of double-loop learning. For starters, our model was changed to appeal to the Ugandan market and we put live streaming on a hold till we could monetize it effectively. Because of that lesson we are still here and growing.

As an Innovation Coach I meet lots of teams that need to do double-loop learning but they are defensive even when confronted with overwhelming evidence. Be humble enough to learn and change, it will help you be in business long term and innovate therein.

This Post Has 2 Comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close Menu


Discover how to quickly generate actionable ideas with our guide to productive thinking