Each January millions of Americans look at their lives over the last year, and try to emulate what worked, and maybe look to other avenues for improving what could be better. While there is a tradition for this annual self-inspection, the truth is that we could all take time for a check-in when it’s fitting in a more meaningful way.
A recent New York Times opinion article by Camille Sweeney and Josh Garfield looked at a few examples of those making improvements, to great success, in their lives.
Chris Argyris, a Business theorist at Harvard Business school, coined the terms single and double loop learning. Professor Argyris shares that the most common way of evaluating what’s not working is the single loop learning style. This approach only considers possible external or technical reasons for obstacles.
The less common, but more effective method is the double-loop learning. In this technique, we question our entire approach to a problem, “including our methodology, biases and deeply held assumptions.” This method demands that we dare to challenge our beliefs and change course based on those newfound revelations.
Chef & restaurateur David Chang is a great example of the double-loop learning method.
Mr. Chang is now unbelievably successful, owning eight internationally acclaimed restaurants from Canada to Australia, has a PBS TV show, collaborates with Lucky Peach food magazine and much more. But it wasn’t always like this.
In his early career, he was a struggling owner of a noodle restaurant, increasingly stressed and over-worked, and barely making ends meet. While he knew that his product was tasty and his price point attractive, he just couldn’t get the patronage other restaurants were attaining.
He and his staff went to the greenmarket and decided to buy and make menu items that THEY would want to eat. Once they moved from thinking that a noodle restaurant could only serve noodles, to a paradigm shift of cooking their favorite foods, the success of Momofuku Noodle Bar was born.
So perhaps, when we decide to take an assessment of what we are doing, it might be beneficial for us to endeavor to look beyond the easy changes for more meaningful results. It worked for one of my favorite chefs!