The need for a "shared vision"
of the learner in the XXIst Century


The "shared vision" is a familiar concept in corporate leadership. Peter F. Drucker in his Innovation and Entrepreneurship states: "Just as management has become the specific organ of all contemporary institutions (...) so innovation and entrepreneurship have to become an integral life sustaining activity in our organizations, our economy, our society." But quite often in the corporate world, it is a "vision" by one person, or a very select group in an organization; such visions command compliance, not commitment!

Peter M. Senge , in his The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization has given the shared vision concept its full weight and importance in any learning organization. The shared vision must be well articulated, thoroughly understood and those called upon to share it, have to be involved somehow in the process of defining it. A "shared vision" is a force in people's heart, a force of impressive power. It is vital for learning organizations because it provides the focus and energy for learning.

The discipline of building a "shared vision"

One of the first steps and a way to build a shared approach would be to tie it to the development of a personal vision: it is the ability to focus on ultimate intrinsic desires; a way to know oneself intimately. Personal mastery must be a discipline, it is a process of continually focusing and refocusing on what one truly wants, on one's vision of oneself. People with high levels of personal mastery aim at the desired result "itself", not the process or the means they assume necessary to achieve that result. A useful starting exercise for learning how to focus more clearly on desired results is to take any particular aspect of one's vision (of the 21st Century learner, for instance), you will likely then discover "deeper desires" lying behind the goal and this will entice the responsiveness of the subconscious to a clear focus. People with high levels of personal mastery do not set out to integrate reason and intuition, they achieve it naturally.

Team learning discipline which of course gathers much of its strength from the progress made at the personal vision level, involves mastering the practices of dialogue and discussion of the two distinct ways that teams converse. The physician and social critic, David Bohm advances the notion that the theory and practice of dialogue represent a unique synthesis of the major intellectual currents underlying all actions; Bohm's most distinctive contribution stems from seeing "thought" as largely a collective phenomenon. Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall (1994) in The Quantum Society: Mind, Physics and a New Social Vision expressed similar views.

Team skills are more challenging to develop than individual skills. Two distinct "practice fields" are developing. The first involves practicing dialogue, so that a team can begin to develop its joint skill in fostering a team IQ that exceeds individual IQ's. The second involves creating "learning laboratories" and "microworlds", computer-supported environments where team learning confronts the dynamics of complex business realities with a language designed for simple, static problems.

May 1996