Double-Loop Learning

In my last post I talked about learning from failure and succes. With this post i’d like to go in deeper on the concept of learning and how learning works in different situations.

Single-Loop Learning

Rudimentary, straight-forward tasks have a well known learning process attached to them:

Actions can lead to a match or mismatch in the expected results. When you encounter a mismatch, you have to change your action in order to find a match. Once you’re able to repeat that match, you’ve learned how to do the task.

This process is called Single-Loop Learning. For rudimentary tasks, this system has proved it’s value over and over again. It’s pretty much the cornerstone of our current schooling-system. But when it comes to the challenges we’re facing on economic, ecologic and sociological level, Single-Loop Learning won’t do the trick. As Albert Einstein once said:

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Double-Loop Learning

In comes a scheme called Double-Loop Learning. Whereas with Single-Loop, we change our actions in order to create a match, Double-Loop Learning requires us to take a step further back.

The problems and challenges we’re facing are not purely the result of the actions we took, they are the result of the mindset in which we took these actions. Double-Loop Learning asks you to deeply analyse why a problem occurs. Find out why and when the problem occurs and then ask yourself if it’s possible to find a different system where this problem does not exist or is not as big of a problem as it is now.

Find the best possible system to work in for this project/problem/… (shifting systems and mindset is always possible!), then find out where the obstacles are.

Some  companies or ideas would never have worked out if someone else worked them out, even if they did the exact same things. Make sure your mindset is the right mindset for whatever it is you’re working on. Keeping the Double-Loop Learning scheme in the back of your head will help you to dig into problems deeper and take projects even further.


About leyssensjan

Jan Leyssens is a designer and entrepreneur who strongly believes you can’t turn sustainability into a positive story if your main focus is on negative impact. When designing, he is always looking for the overlap between activism and entrepreneurship, technology and community. His main expertise lies in strategic business model development, Circular Economy, the makermovement, and social innovation. With a background in Industrial Design, Jan quickly shifted his focus towards business design and using the design process in strategic management. Jan is the father of two kids and founder & CEO of Regenerative Design, co-founder of Full Circle, ImpactBoost, and the Circular Design map, podcaster, storyteller, and changemaker.

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