Transition Ireland and Northern Ireland

the network for communities building local resilience

Ideally, when lots of people are doing similar things, we would be able to learn from each others experiences and adapt the learning to our local contexts.

In practice this can be quite hard, for a number of reasons, including :

- we can be busy people who rush on to the next thing, before we have had a chance to learn from the last
- we don't necessarily appreciate how useful what we have learnt might be to other people
- we don't have the mechanisms for capturing our learning in a way that is accessible to other people
- we don't use the mechanisms we do have as well as we might

To be really smart as we go forward on our big mission of changing the world, we need to steadily improve the ways we learn together.

One well established mechanism (started by the US Military, but there you go ...) is 'After Action Reviews' - see the following link :

These can be particularly good on group projects to help everyone appreciate that each person has actually learnt different things from what appeared to be the same experience - to begin with these could be used as a format for a blog entry just to get something down.

Where a group of people are working in different places on similar things, then a regular structure for comparing learning and providing mutual support makes sense - Davie and myself can talk more about the model of 'action learning sets' for anyone who is interested.

On another network I am involved in, a number of people have taken to using their webcams and just doing 2/3 minute video blogs of what they got from a particular project, which establishes for other people if they are someone you would like to talk further with.

We need to find our own ways that suit us and what we are trying to do, but part of this should be based on what has worked well in other contexts.

Anyone got any other ideas ?

I'd like to think that the bigger projects that have lots of learning in could at least begin doing AAR's or something similar and maybe even feed into learning events for wider groups of interested people.

In the long run - this is one of the things that will make a big difference

Best regards


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hi Chris

great post and I feel that like you were saying we need to create a culture of passed on learning on the web for example through cloud computing collaborating group projects can be edited and stored on the web for the next group to edit themselves and pass on their own group experiences after their internal feedback exchange. The hierarchical control and command model is dead and traditional institutions such as schools and the general education system will have to recognize this. We empower ourselves to create our own shared experience of learning. The fashion seems to be virtual worlds although I would be wary of that as it is artificial and doesn't apply to real life.
Cheers Shane

What can you tell us about cloud computing collaborating group projects ? - I'm well out of my depth here !!

Ideally, is there a little idiot guide video somewhere for beginners ?


Hi Chris, interesting model for project management. The US military does have some very good techniques. My favourite is probably the The OODA Loop (for Observe, Orient, Decide and Act which was developed by John Boyd.

I think techniques like this probably have a use in dealing with the mediocrity of debate at national level in the same way that a light maneuverable fighter plane can take out heavier faster planes.

But techniques such as After action reviews and OODA loops have nothing to do with building a culture of learning.

Our educational system is largely utilitarian and aimed more at teaching us to do things, rather than to acquire wisdom. Yes it is important to know "how to" do things correctly but we should also have the capacity to ask ourselves what is important. I have been horrified by how bad "green" projects replicate. People get better and better at doing them, but at no stage do the key questions get asked. A good example is with eco housing, people didn't question the housing bubble, their job prospects or their long commute times.

By looking at the last decade with a simplistic view, it can be said that Ireland had a culture of learning. We had umpteenth people who learned how to spot a field beside a town and turn it into a horde of luxury executive houses. We had loads of people who learnt to position carpets, tiles, kitchens to sell and spot nice fields near main roads for retail parks.

But for most educated people throughout the ages, a culture of learning is a lot deeper than just learning the things you need to know. It also means learning things you don't need to know for the shear joy of learning, otherwise we don't grow as people. At the end of the day just getting good at doing things is just another form of monoculture. The mind needs a varied diet and needs to tackle concepts which are complex and nebulous otherwise it won't grow

Resilient systems needs diversity and redundancy. Efficiency is the enemy of resilience. So getting everyone highly efficient at doing the same thing well will have unintended consequences.

So I would think that perhaps a book club might help promote a culture of learning better, or perhaps a series of book reviews. Alternatively week long residential work shops, hikes etc are also good

But regular dinners among groups of friends I think would even be better. There is a book by Jenny Uglow " The Lunar Men: Five Friends Whose Curiosity Changed the World " which is about a group in birmingham at the beginning of the industrial revolution which gives some idea of how stimulating a group of friends can be.




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