Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Single Loop Learning, Double Loop Learning and Marriage

Saturday afternoon, I officiated Janece and Grant’s wedding ceremony at the Bella Donna Chapel, in McKinney, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

If you think about it, marriage is an organization, in the sense that is organizes individual human beings into one organizational unit. This is especially true, when it is not just two individuals coming together, but two families, like in this case. So, there are important lessons we can and should learn from organizational learning theory, when we set about to organize these six persons into one unit.

One of the most useful concepts in organizational learning theory is the idea of single-loop learning and double-loop learning, first introduced by Chris Argyris and Donald Schon in the 1970s.

According to Argyris and Schon, an organization engages in single-loop learning, “when the error detected and corrected permits the organization to carry on its present policies or achieve its present objectives... Double-loop learning occurs when error is detected and corrected in ways that involve the modification of an organization’s underlying norms, policies and objectives.”

In other words, in single-loop learning, we do not question the underlying assumptions under which we operate, only the strategies and techniques in use, whereas in double-loop learning, we question the actual underlying assumptions.

If you know Janece and Grant, but I mean really know them, you know that this is how they have lived their lives, especially these last few years as individuals and as a couple. That says something, because to many the idea of challenging the governing variables, under which we operate, can be extremely disconcerting.

Janece and Grant have not shied away from this. They have asked hard questions of themselves and of each other, and they have followed the answers where those answers led them, making the requisite changes they felt they needed to make.

I have spent the last few months getting to know these two, and they are unique. Do not underestimate their commitment to each other. They are brutally honest and vulnerable with each other, and put everything on the line for each other and their kids. This is a bold, loving couple that is making a difference in the world. There is not a single person who has spent time with this couple, and has not left feeling good. If there are family or friends who are not here because they may disapprove, it is only because they haven’t seen the magic of these two up close.

I will end with words Grant wrote about this subject, but I feel Janece could have written too: “I have the rare opportunity to spend my life with the woman I fell in love with, like I’ve never fallen in love before. And the bonus is, we have both learned so much through our past failures and mistakes that we are now ready to see our love story finish out, to commit until the end.”

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