Transformational learning for organizational change

Transformational learning and mentality enhancement

Suppose your manager has assigned the same project, for which you and one of your colleagues need critical thinking. Will the results of the project be the same? The answer is no.

Why does my thinking affect an organization?

Your experience and your thoughts make you unique. You use them to solve problems, get your work done, and communicate with colleagues and managers. This applies to you, but it also applies to others around you. In the workplace, we bring a lot of experience, beliefs and perspectives that are intertwined and form the structure of an organizational system. These invisible emotional models create behaviors and problems in the organization. It explains why we, as individuals, can negatively or positively influence its results.

Organizational change begins in us

Since mental models drive our behavior, Donella Meadows argues that the greatest benefit of changing a system as an organization lies in the effort to transform our mentalities that it manages. [1]. What does this mean? This means that if you are committed to recognizing the limitations of your assumptions and opening your mind to new perspectives, you can bring more value and improvement to an organization. If we all direct our efforts towards changing our thinking and the way we learn from each other, we will bring more efficiency to the workplace.

For companies, the consequences of psycho-model blocks can be devastating, especially in a fast-paced world where adapting to change is critical to success. [2]. How much money do companies spend on implementing ineffective solutions or training due to miscalculations? How many development opportunities do they miss because of inability to manage to free their faith? Creating a culture that encourages individual and shared reflection encourages you and others to think about your thoughts and create new ideas. You need more than luck to succeed in affiliate business.

Transformational education as a transformative force

How can you nurture a reflective culture in your organization? To break mental schemes, you need a transformative force capable of inducing that profound mental change. Transformational education may be the answer to that question [3]. It is a process that aims to bring about a profound change in consciousness and to produce emotional and cognitive responses that transform one’s behavior and thinking. This theory lies in the research and work of Jack Majiro. He argued that students who go through experiences that do not fit their current beliefs ask questions and reflect what they know. By doing this, they creatively create and integrate new ideas to solve problems and adapt to change. The goal of transformational learning is to turn students into “reflective practitioners” who are always ready to learn from their experiences. [4]. It consists of ten systematic steps that can be combined into four main steps: confusing dilemma, critical reflection, collaboration and implementation.

Moving from theory to practice

Earlier, I mentioned the importance of adapting to change and how miscalculations can cost companies money in ineffective interventions. What if your company faces this challenge because of the inability of managers to cooperate and admit mistakes? What can you do to help them succeed? Here’s how you can apply and structure transformational learning to improve their performance.

1. Confusing dilemma

How can you admit to managers that they don’t know it? In a safe, non-judgmental learning environment, managers can see a presentation about past interventions and their consequences. They will imagine the gap between their motives and the results of their actions. This awareness can create feelings of confusion and dissatisfaction which can trigger their need for change.

2. Critical reflection

Why are managers unable to implement effective interventions? Managers will begin to think about why their past actions lead to inefficiency, they admit that they do not know everything and that there are better ways to deal with the problem. Targeted questions and reflective activities can be effective tools to encourage their critical thinking and reflection and to transform their perspectives into more open concepts.

3. Cooperation

How can you create a shared understanding of the company’s goals and needs? Collaborative learning experiences, such as practice communities or workshops, can be a strategic tool for encouraging managers to share their experiences and arguments with others and use conversations to explore different perspectives. Managers will feel that the challenges they face affect the entire management team, helping them to develop shared business ideas.

4. Implementation

How can you help managers integrate new ideas into their thinking? By creating a secure, continuous learning community, managers can create new ideas on topics of interest. They gain knowledge and skills to create action plans, integrate them into their work, and share their experiences with the team. Ad hoc resources can also be designed for continuous improvement opportunities and reflection points.

The latest thought

We are an integral part of the organizational system. With our limited understanding and knowledge, we can prevent an organization from growing. Going beyond our mentality is the most effective way to drive change and innovate. Through transformational learning, we can achieve this. This unique radical transformation begins in our hearts and can spread to the people around us and eventually to the whole organization. [4]. There is no limit to the best ways we can do things. It takes the ability to see them.


[1] Leverage point: A place to interfere with a system

[2] McKinsey in change management

[3] Transformational education

[4] Transformational Learning: A Blueprint for Organizational Change

Image Credit:

Image created by the author of “Transformative Learning: 4 Key Steps”.