What do you do when you get into shore? This is a question that many sailors and boaters are familiar with. For those who spend time on the water, reaching shore can provide a sense of safety and relief. But it’s what happens after you reach shore that can make all the difference.
In crisis management, the end of a crisis can feel like reaching shore after a long journey. The initial crisis may be over, but it’s crucial to take the time to evaluate and reflect on what happened. This is where tools like the AAR (After Action Review) method and the Loop Learning modells can be invaluable.
Have you ever been out at sea, facing a strong headwind that threatens to push you off course? When sailing, adjusting the sails can keep the ship on track and help it reach its destination. But what if the destination is no longer achievable or desirable? What if the wind has shifted, and a new approach is needed?
In crisis management, we face similar challenges. Effective crisis management requires continuous learning and adaptation to new situations. This is where the concept of Single, Double, and Triple Loop Learning comes in, developed by Chris Argyris and Donald Schön.
- Single Loop Learning is like adjusting the sails to stay on course in the face of a headwind. It involves making necessary adjustments based on feedback received. It’s a crucial and necessary form of learning, but it’s not always enough. In sailing, this might involve adjusting the sails to maintain the ship’s course. Similarly, in crisis management, it means making adjustments to response tactics based on the feedback received.
- Double Loop Learning goes beyond adjusting the sails to questioning and potentially changing underlying assumptions and beliefs. It’s like changing course when the original destination is no longer achievable or desirable. Double Loop Learning involves evaluating the effectiveness of the actions taken, as well as the context in which those actions were taken. In crisis management, it means adapting strategies to changing circumstances and avoiding making the same mistakes in the future.
- Triple Loop Learning takes it one step further by challenging the way of thinking and mental models of the team itself. It’s like redesigning the ship altogether, including its sails and its navigational system. Triple Loop Learning involves making fundamental changes to adapt to the situation and handle the crisis. In crisis management, it means transforming the way a team approaches and handles crises to better prepare for future challenges.
As crisis management professionals, we must continuously learn and adapt to new situations to ensure effective crisis management. By applying the loops of learning, we can adjust our course, change our approach, and fundamentally transform our way of thinking to navigate the strongest of headwinds and reach our destination.
One method for conducting this evaluation is the After Action Review (AAR) process. The AAR is a structured process for reviewing and analyzing a response to a crisis or incident. By using the AAR method in conjunction with the Single, Double, and Triple Loop Learning concepts, crisis management teams can identify where adjustments need to be made and develop new strategies for handling future crises. The AAR process helps teams to continually improve their response capabilities, much like adjusting the sails of a ship to maintain course in the face of changing winds.