Changing minds

howard gardner Howard Gardner became famous with his theory on multiple intelligences. I got to know his ideas during my studies educational science. For me it was such a relief to read his ideas about intelligence. He dismisses the idea that intelligence is a unidimensional entity with which you are born, that is unchangable and that can be measured with an IQ-test. He defines intelligence as an ability to process information in a specific way. There are various abilities (‘intelligences’) to process information and that help people to solve problems or to create products. To be called ‘intelligent’ these solutions and products need to be seen of value in at least one culture. The various intelligences comprise: visual/spatial intelligence, musical intelligence, verbal intelligence, logical/mathematical intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, intrapersonal intelligence, and bodily/kinesthetic intelligence.

Gardner recently wrote an interesting boook: Changing Minds: The Art and Science of Changing Our Own and Other People's Minds. He explains his ideas on what’s needed to change people’s minds and then tells several stories of influential people (politicians, artists, writers etc.). He reflects upon these stories with his ideas. He defines seven factors that speed up the process of change: Reason, Research, Resonance, Representational Redescriptions, Resources and Rewards, Real World Events and Resistances. To me however it does not become clear whether the changing minds-process is to be translated to learning. When you manage to influence (and change) people, does that mean they have learned? Are these the same processes?

The book pretends to focus on these seven factors but in fact by reading it you learn everything on multiple intelligences, Gardner’s view on cognitivism versus constructivism, leadership, childish theories and their stubbornness. 

Gardner, H. (2004). Changing Minds: The Art and Science of Changing Our Own and Other People's Minds. Harvard Business School Press.

International HRD Conference in Amsterdam

09 Oct 2006
11 Oct 2006

HRD 2006 adam conf logoThe central theme of the International HRD Conference 2006 is The Learning Society for sustainable development. This conference has all the ingredients to become a great success. There are several interesting and innovative subthemes such as Learning and the generation gap; The workplace as a place for learning and Learning from the future.

The contributions are very diverse (not only paper presentations but also workshops, round tables etc) and the keynote speakers are promising. Among others Joseph Kessels will speak, Trude Maas and Regina Mulder. Last but not least the conference takes place in Amsterdam!

Presence and learning from the future

Four interesting people have had lots of intersting conversations on people and change. They were so kind to write their conversation down and to make a book out of it. These interesting people are Peter Senge, Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski and Betty Sue Flower. The book is named – Presence, exploring profound change in people, organizations and society.

They work out the “U-movement” that Scharmer had worked on before. The basic phases in the U-movement are Sensing, Presencing and Realizing. Reading the book means going on a journey. They explore the idea of learning from the future: “A different type of learning process where we learn from a future that has not yet happened and from continually discovering our part in bringing that future to pass. Learning based on the past suffices when the past is a good guide to the future. But it leaves us blind to profound shifts when whole new forces shaping change arise” (pp86).

Being able to learn from an unknown future is a necessary ability in the knowledge economy we're in. The perspective the authors offer on this ability is truly inspiring.

The book reminds me of a quote of John Scharr that someone showed me a couple of weeks ago:

The future is not the result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created – created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination.”

Senge, P., Scharmer, C. O., Jaworski, J., & Flowers, B. S. (2005). Presence, exploring profound change in people, organizations and society. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

Reflective tool on knowledge productivity now online available!

rozetThe reflective tool we use to gather data about innovation practices is totally renewed and online available. This knowledge-productivity-tool helps you to reflect upon your innovation practice with help of the design principles. (The tool is in Dutch)


On the website of the digital storycenter you can find the digital storytelling cookbook. Want to know what is real intelligence? In the cookbook I found this nice quote of cultural anthropologist Gregory Bateson. He was asked in the 1950s if he believed that computer artificial intelligence was possible. He responded that he did not know, but that he believed when you would ask a computer a yes-or-no question and it responded with “that reminds me of a story”, you would be close.

I think stories deserve a more prominent place in our research than they have at the moment. People’s personal stories are often so much richer than actual facts. They tend to convince people more easy than rational argumens. Not only logical conclusions – after thourough research – is what counts, but the rich story that lead to the logical conclusion is what counts. Boonstra calls it narrative change work:
“The idea is to work with how people talk with, to and about eachother and construct their wider realities and relations. (…) Analyzing the narratives is an act of deconstruction of the story by searching for dualities, denying the plot, finding the exception, tracing what is between the lines and other cognitive activities. Several stories can be brought together for deconstruction by multi-voicing and reconstructing by making new stories and opening up new possibilities” Boonstra (2004: 460).
Boonstra, J.J. (2004). Dynamics of organizational change and learning. West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

ISMISCK 2006 on knowledge productivity!

28 Aug 2006
30 Aug 2006

This summer, 28-30 August, the ISMICK conference takes place in South Africa (Stellenbosch). This year's conference theme is knowledge productivity. We (my colleagues Marloes van Rooij, Joseph Kessels and me) will be there and give a workshop in which we will work actively with the design principles. We start with the performance of five monologues in which people who participate in an innovation practice tell their story. Then we will work with the design principles that can be found in this monologue. Finally we’ll look for interventions to promote knowledge productivity. More information about the conference can be found on the ISMICK-website.

Working with learning histories

A concrete method that helps in working with personal stories is the method of the learning history. The guru in this field is Art Kleiner. The learning history is a document in which a critical learning- or change-moment is examined. In the document you describe who is involved and then all the people tell their own story. Their story is about their actions, results, underlying beliefs and arguments. These stories are of a very personal nature and are described in a rich way. These stories are also analysed and labelled. But without loosing the original story. Giving meaning to the stories is done together with the people who wrote the stories. A nice example of how a learning history works, can be found in this article. It is an example from the car-industry. It also contains a picture of how a learning history looks like. There is also a good field manual for the Learning Historian online available. It 's written by Art Kleiner.

Our workshop at the UFHRD on the eleven design principles

This year the seventh international conference on HRD research and practice across Europe, took place in Tilburg: 22-24 May, 2006. We presented our design principles for knowledge productivity. The conference attracts mainly researchers and some practitioners in the field of HRD. The main focus of the papers presented is learning in organisations and learning of teams and individuals in organisations. We decided to present our paper not in the regular format (presentation + questions). The design principles become alive as soon as you work with them. So we thought it would be nice to design a way of working that would encourage the people in our workshop to work with the principles. It was a great workshop, people working and discussing the principles.

The paper our workshop was based on, presents the eleven design principles for knowledge productivity and the background of our research. For the full paper see the attachment that comes with this post.

IC Congress 2007: The Future of Business Navigation

03 May 2007
04 May 2007

This conference takes place 3-4 May 2007 at INHOLLAND University in Haarlem, The Netherlands. The IC Congress 2007 aims to help create a future for intellectual capital thinking as a tool for business navigation by addressing the following questions:

  • What has been the progress in IC theory development?
  • What are experiences in applying IC theory?
  • What is the future of IC theory and its application?

The call for proposals can be found on the IC Congress website.

First ‘research-in-practice-day’ was a great success

At May 9 the first ‘research-in-practice-day’ (‘onderzoekspraktijkdag’) took place. This was an initiative of the foundation of corporate education. Several experts and novices in the field of HRD gave a workshop around their research themes. Everyone of us invited an expert on his/here theme. There were workshops on workplace learning, storytelling, the autonomous professional and relational learning. My workshop was about appreciative reflection. I collaborated with Marieke van Schaik from the Amsterdam School of Professional Education. She joins a community that works on reflection on action and introduced us to the appreciative reflection. Take a look at their attractive website on reflection-tools (only in Dutch) and find many reflection tools and examples of how to use them.
The day was a great success thanks to the informal atmosphere and the opportunities it gave for connecting to colleagues in the field and finding out about interesting themes in HRD. The next ‘research-in-practice-day’ will be November 7, 2006.