@benjaminm would say both: "they need to unlearn assumptions/develop new ways of 'knowing' by studying the system". @benjaminm adds that "Seddon seems admirably focussed on an intervention model based on managers/teams studying the work to discover for themselves", and recommended @dpjoyce's write-up of Jeremy Cox's workshop at the Vanguard Network Day 25th February 2010.
However, although this piece explicitly references both Chris Argyris' double-loop learning and Gregory Bateson's second-order learning, much of the rhetoric seems aimed at simply replacing one set of assumptions and beliefs (which Vanguard calls "Command-and-Control View") with a new set of assumptions and beliefs (which Vanguard calls "Systems Thinking View").
|COMMAND-AND-CONTROL THINKING||SYSTEMS THINKING|
|Top-down, hierarchy ||PERSPECTIVE||Outside-in, system |
|Functional ||DESIGN||Demand, value and flow |
|Separated from work ||DESIGN-MAKING||Integrated with work |
|Output, targets, standards: related to budget ||MEASUREMENT||Capability, variation: related to purpose |
|Contractual ||ATTITUDE TO CUSTOMERS||What matters? |
|Contractual ||ATTITUDE TO SUPPLIERS||Cooperative |
|Manage people and budgets ||ROLE OF MANAGEMENT||Act on the system |
|Control ||ETHOS||Learning |
|Reactive, projects ||CHANGE||Adaptive, integral |
|Extrinsic ||MOTIVATION||Intrinsic |
Vanguard clearly regards the new set of assumptions and beliefs as "true"; thus the question about "changing how managers think" becomes a tactical question - how do you create a learning environment in which managers adopt the Vanguard principles for themselves, without obvious coercion. So the new beliefs (content) are primary, and the process of arriving at the new beliefs is merely a secondary means to an end. This is where the Vanguard notion of "Systems Thinking" diverges radically from those schools of systems thinking that focus primarily on the process of thinking deeply about systems, and regard the insights that emerge from this process as important but secondary.
Whatever advantages Vanguard's "Systems Thinking View" may have over the "Command-and-Control View", the two views appear to be at the same logical level in Bateson terms. Simply replacing one set of assumptions with another set of assumptions is merely changing WHAT you think, not HOW you think.
So I fully agree with @antlerboy, when he commented "as a starting point, mgrs/teams studying processes is brilliant. But not same as studying 'system' / knowing..."
If you just want people to adopt a new (replacement) set of mental habits, then this calls for mental training. If you want people to adopt a new (replacement) set of beliefs, then it calls for rhetoric and indoctrination. (Which is what makes Vanguard workshops look a bit like Alpha courses.) But if you want people to change their learning style, this is a much more fundamental and difficult change.
I just did an internet search for the phrase "changing how we think", and found a number of eloquent pages, many of them trying to reframe some familiar topics.
- @Adam Westbrook, It’s time to change how we think about “news”
- Doriah Williams, Changing how we think about climate change