Archive for July, 2011

The Delusion of Learning from Experience

Comments Off on The Delusion of Learning from Experience

Might seems like a strange title, now that I preached the importance of leaving your comfort zone and reflective competence. I still convinced direct experience is the most powerful way to learn something. We learn eating, crawling and communicating through direct trial and error. Through taking an action and seeing the consequences of that action we learn so we can take new actions and learn from them.

But what happens when we can no longer observe the consequences of our action? What happens if the primary consequences of our actions are in the distant future or in a distant part of a larger system your apart of? We each have a learning horizon, a breadth of vision in time and space within which we assess our effectiveness. When our actions have consequences beyond our learning horizon, it becomes impossible to learn from direct experience.

Decisions in the agile self-organized software development team first have consequences for the burucratice ITIL-governance infrastructure department, then on the support organization and maybe years later on marketing department and sales force. Drawing conclusions from actions in the development project from the feedback from the sales force can therefore not be done that easily. The longer away in time and organization things happen the harder is it to understand the consequences of one’s trials and errors.