Execute or Implement

Putting Teaming and Learning to Work

Execution-as-learning is a work method that enables organizations to learn as they perform. Every aspect of performance is conducted with a learning attitude in which action and reflection are allied. Execution-as-learning occurs in team settings because diverse skills and viewpoints are needed to devise possibilities for action and interpret results. This process consists of four steps:

1. Diagnose: Assess the situation.

2. Design: Develop specific plans for action.

3. Act: Treat experience as experiment.

4. Reflect: Evaluate results.

Before employing execution-as-learning, leaders must evaluate the work situation to determine where it sits on the process knowledge spectrum. This is because its four steps vary in form based on its placement on the spectrum:

Routine Operations:

1. Diagnose: How is the team performing against target measures?

2. Design: Select a performance aspect and an approach for improving it.

3. Act: Follow a structured approach to improvement.

4. Reflect: Did the targeted performance improve?

Complex Operations:

1. Diagnose: What risks does the team face?

2. Design: Identify a problem to solve and devise alternatives.

3. Act: Test an alternative.

4. Reflect: Did the alternative work to solve the problem or lower the risk?

Innovation Operations:

1. Diagnose: What opportunities might the team explore?

2. Design: Decide on one possibility for experimentation and design the first step.

3. Act: Experiment with prototypes.

4. Reflect: What did the team learn from the failures that occurred?

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