Yesterday I wrote about how important unlearning was for an organisation and what it represents in terms of managing organisational memory.
I was confronted by a challenge this morning that asked the question of "why anything would need to be "unlearned"." Conceptually i think we struggle with the term "unlearning" as it suggests that we need to forget what we know and sacrifice it for whatever is new. I believe this to be far from the truth and in fact I think unlearning is more about ensuring that we alter our mental models to deal with what we know to be the truth.
We all have existing mental models that, at times, allow us to "auto pilot" through life. The problem with this is there is little or no cognisance of value and worth of information and knowledge and therefore we carry on letting existing mental models have their way with what we believe to be the best part of a situation or context. My issue with this is we find ourselves in awkward situations where it is hard to challenge what is an organisational or social norm because we have not critically reflected on it.
A deliberate commitment to unlearning is required to begin to alter existing mental models and ensure individuals think critically about certain situations and contexts. There is certainly some global and local, policy, procedure, process and models that need to be "unlearned" as a result of the impacts associated with the global financial crisis. But it will take a disposition towards critically thinking about this and it will require organisations to reflect on the learning that has occurred and what action should be taken in the future.
The most important thing is to identify that which should no longer be part of the organisational memory and ensure steps are taken to "unlearn" that which would detrimental in the future.