Experience teaches nothing

By John Hunter via Curious Cat Blog   Article

Experience Teaches Nothing Without Theory

“‘Experience teaches nothing. In fact there is no experience to record without theory… Without theory there is no learning… And that is their downfall. People copy examples and then they wonder what is the trouble. They look at examples and without theory they learn nothing.’

W. Edwards Deming in The Deming of America

Our brains are good at creating theories, from our experiences, so that our brain can learn. However when this is done only subconsciously we can be led astray. And in complex situations where it is not easy to see the causal relationships (managing human systems for example) it easier for us to be led astray when we are not consciously thinking about the theory driving our thoughts and decisions.

When we are learning (as little kids) we don’t understand that are brain is creating theories to help us learn. But our brain is creating theories and testing them out. What happens when we push the spoon off our high chair? Lets try it 500 times and see. …

Our brains are great at creating theories and testing them even without us understanding that is what is going on. But managers need to push past this subconscious learning to understand the theories behind their actions or they willspend lots of time on activities that are wasteful, similar to the bird in this webcast: Seagull Tap Dancing …

Too often managers are applying behaviors without understanding the theory (or without evidence showing that the practice based on the theory is effective – failing topractice evidence based management). And so the managers don’t understand that the behavior will not be successful given the conditions they find themselves in.”

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