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Desert Highway
Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.

Sustaining the Journey

A Bias Toward Action

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


December 14, 2015

Gino and Staats offer insights on reasons why organizations continue to be self-defeating in promoting learning. One important idea is a bias toward action. When a problem presents itself, most companies invest resources in action to “fix the problem.” They suggest this bias is actually detrimental to improvement for two key reasons: exhaustion and lack of reflection.

One example is hand-washing protocols in hospitals. A drop in hand washing occurred over the duration of a 12-hour shift, especially when it was a highly demanding shift. With more time off between shifts, compliance improved. A lack of reflection was found to decrease performance in an IT consulting firm. Workers who had 15 minutes of reflection in their training performed more than 20% better in one study. This effect was duplicated in other studies with college students.

How true is the bias toward action in your organization?

What are some ways it might be impeding your organization’s learning?

How might coaching and dialogue support greater reflection?

What are some strategies you could implement to decrease exhaustion?

Source: Gino, F and Staats, B. (2015). Why Organizations Don’t Learn. Harvard Business Review. 93(11). 110-118.

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