Transformative Learning: Part 2, Applying Transformative Learning

October 22, 2009

by Dawn Francis, Ed.D.

In my earlier post, we defined what transformative learning was. Your next question is probably, “so what is it good for?” Well, let’s think about the place transformative learning has in today’s organizations.

Transformative Learning and Change Management: Large-scale change initiatives require employees at all levels of the organization to reflect upon the change, prepare for it, and act upon it. Change can be disorienting. Inevitably, employees will ask: Why must I change? What is now expected of me? Will I be able to meet these expectations? How will I manage?

Companies can facilitate a dialogue among employees who are being confronted with a new and unexpected future. By relating to one another, these employees are more likely to become open to the possibility for success and willing to engage in the action planning process. As the change is managed, companies can create opportunities for these employees to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to assume new roles and build competence in them. These employees—now transformed—are likely to reintegrate into the organization with a new perspective on the change.

Transformative Learning and Performance Improvement: Designing performance improvement solutions requires you to address a number of factors that affect an organization’s ability to achieve its business goals. These factors include the skills and motivation of individual performers, as well as the processes, structures, reward systems, and culture that support them. For some people, even the most effective training may not impact performance outcomes by itself. So we frequently recommend various performance support activities to assist with the application of knowledge and skills back on the job. Coaching is an effective performance support activity that is synergistically tied to transformative learning.. The coaching process, when done effectively, leads to transformative learning.

Organizations with formal or informal coaching practices in place may want to reevaluate them and intertwine the coaching process steps with the transformative learning steps. Here’s why: successful coaches ask powerful questions that prompt introspection and critical self-examination. They can facilitate peer-to-peer sessions where conversations can lead to new perspectives. They can work with the person they’re coaching to explore options, create action plans, recommend learning opportunities, assist in the building of self-confidence and competence, and help apply that new understanding to workplace practices. Coaching becomes a powerful tool for personal transformation and performance improvement.

So now that we’ve looked at some of the ways organizations can apply transformative learning, please come back for Part 3: Case Studies in Transformative Learning, for some examples of how organizations are applying transformative learning in the real world!

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