themselves to is a big step forward in
enabling them to develop the skill of
learning to learn.
All teams must deal with risk and uncertainty. To be an effective learner in
such situations, you must learn two
things: first, to identify the moods
that you find yourself in and, second,
to shift into moods that open you to
learning. Tables 2 and 3 give examples
of common productive and unproductive moods for learning.
1, 2, 6 You can
recognize a mood from the assessments you see yourself making about
the world around you. For example, if
you are experiencing awe and eagerness about what is going on, you are in
a mood of wonder. If you see no possibilities for moving forward, you are in
a mood of resignation.
The navigational skill of identifying and shifting moods follows the
Dreyfus progression just like any other
skill development. The beginner learns
the names of moods and the conversations that characterize each one.
The advanced beginner recognizes
moods more easily and can shift some
moods. The competent navigator readily identifies unproductive moods and
can usually shift to productive moods
alone or with assistance.
Shifting moods requires reflection
and practice because you may have to
unlearn some habits that you formed
for coping with different situations.
We have found that asking four questions and reflecting on their answers
can open the door to shifting moods.
We recommend that you engage
these four questions with the help
of a teacher or teammate. Although
you can do this on your own, we have
found that a different observer can
help you uncover your hidden assessments, standards, and habits faster.
˲ What are my prevailing moods and
assessments in the situation?
˲ What standards do I have that provoke these assessments?
˲ What habits do I have that keep me
conforming to the standards?
˲ Why is reaching my learning objective important to me? What will I be
able to do if I persevere?
In this investigation, it is impor-
tant to notice that moods are different
from emotions. Emotions are “fore-
than they do. More often than not,
however, that is not what happens.
They become frustrated and confused
and then give up. In the after-action de-
briefs, we ask them about their moods
and ferret out their hidden assump-
tions. We hear assessments like these:
˲ Frustration: I want to contribute to
my team, but I have no idea what to do.
I add no value to the team.
˲ Confusion: I do not understand
the game. It is way too complex. It is
bad not to understand right away. I do
not like this.
˲ Resignation: There is no point in
me being part of this team since I do
not understand this game. I am never
going to understand it.
Occasionally a team has a member
who is an expert gamer. You might expect their teams would make better
progress. Often the exact opposite happens. The expert player cannot stop
from telling everyone else what to do.
Many team members resent the expert
for not giving them to chance to learn it
for themselves. A few wait docilely to be
told exactly what to do—at the price of
being immobilized when they encounter an unfamiliar situation.
During debriefings, we assist team
members to discover what holds them
back from asking for help. Their hidden assessments are mostly variations
of these five:
˲ It is important to be competent.
˲ It is important to be efficient and
˲ It is important to be independent
˲ It is important to be useful.
˲ It is important to be prepared at all
In each case, they judge themselves
to be incapable of doing these important things. Helping them discover
these assessments and then examine
the standards that they are holding
Table 1. Stages of learning and their moods.
Stage Behaviors Mood Dispositions
Beginner Person knows of the domain and desires to
learn. Declares a commitment to learning
the domain. Capable only of following rules
given by a teacher or representative of the
domain. Must trust the teacher. Can be very
slow and tentative while learning and trying
out the basic rules.
Positive: wonder, ambition, resolution,
confidence in ability to learn.
Negative: fear of failure, discomfort
with not knowing what to do, impatience
with the slow speed of advancement,
distrust of the teacher, feeling “I ought
to know this,” frustration that even
simple things do not work as wanted.
Familiarity with common situations.
Learns and applies maxims—tips and rules
of thumb to be used when certain symptoms
appear. Still needs help and
is faster about figuring out what to do
and making the moves.
Positive: resolution, ambition
Negative: Boredom, apathy, distrust
Competent Has learned the norms of the domain.
Common situations all look familiar
and the person knows what to do right
away. Does not require supervision to avoid
common mistakes and satisfy customers.
Asks for help when confronted with an
Positive: resolution, ambition,
confidence in network and in capacity
to ask and receive help
Negative: overwhelm, anxiety, insecurity,
Proficient Has developed a high level of skill that
others admire and imitate. Sets new
standards of performance.
Positive: ambition, resolution, care, trust
Negative: Impatience, frustration,
Expert Has extensive experience. Quickly sees
solutions to problems that baffle others.
Sought out as a teacher, manager, and
Positive: confidence, wonder, serenity,
ambition to achieve mastery, resolution
Negative: arrogance, impatience
Master Has developed a long view of the domain
and knows how to intervene to change the
game that everyone else is playing.
Positive: wonder, exploration, ambition
to contribute to a field, serenity
Negative: arrogance, boredom,