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Second-Loop Learning

1 August 2003
A brain on top of a stack of books

In the world of learning, we usually distinguish between two levels of learning: first-loop learning, in which we improve while observing the value system, norms and behaviors in the organization. Second-loop learning consists of challenging the existing assumptions and changing them: we define new work procedures or methods, and do not define how to implement and actualize the existing material.

Unlike first-loop learning which consists of a use of knowledge for a specific problem based on existing assumptions or "what worked in the past", second loop learning goes one step further and challenges the current assumptions in order to create new insights. For example, if we take any problem (one far from the content world we are discussing) such as how to prevent a situation in which earthquakes claim victims, first-loop learning would examine how earthquakes are caused and attempt to predict when the earthquakes will take place in order to aptly prepare for them. Second-loop learning will examine earthquakes as a concept and might come to the conclusion that earthquakes do not claim victims- collapsing buildings do!

Second-loop learning is a term that we should be aware of when producing insights

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