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Volume 3, Issue 1, 2013

The Team Learning Pyramid

J. Martin Hays, Senior Lecturer, Swinburne University of Technology, Sarawak Campus, Kuching, Malaysia. Abstract This exposition introduces the Team Learning Pyramid. The TLP brings together three elementsDialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness (DRM)of particular relevance to teams, Communities of Practice, and other work groups. Combining DRM permits a synergy that amplifies the impact of any one of the elements. The distinctiveness of each element, first, is examined and, then, combined into a unified whole represented by a three-sided pyramid. Examples drawn from a range of situations and applications illustrate how the combined elements work to enable team learning, generate solutions to complex problems, and promote organisational change. Introduction This exposition introduces the Team Learning Pyramid (TLP), a model for team learning (Figure 1). This new model brings together three elements of learning and changeDialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulnessof particular relevance to teams, Communities of Practice (Hara and Schwen, 2006; Mittendorff et al., 2006; and Smith, 1 2005) , research collaboratives, and other work groups. While Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness (DRM) have been explored previously in the literature (see, as examples, Gear et al., 2003; van Woerkom, 2004; and Weick and Putnam, 2006), they have for the most part been dealt with independently. Relatively rare exceptions include: (a) Calton and Payne (2003), Meuser and Lapp (2004), Plack (2006), and Shaw and Perkins (1992), who make connections between reflection and dialogue; (b) Beers et al. (2006) who draws the link from dialogue to mindfulness; and (c) Blatner (2004), Bostrm and Lassen (2006), Grant (2001), and Reynolds (1998), who show relationships between reflection and mindfulness. Each of these elements has separately been proven invaluable in application. Despite what Reflection Dialogue may appear as an obvious connection amongst the three elements, they have not been explicitly linked in the literature as done here. Combining Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness permits a synergy that Mindfulness amplifies the impact of any one of the elements operating singly. Synergy is used here, as it is often in team literature, alluding to the fact that teams can produce more in concert than the sum of their individual productiveness (see, for example, Logan, 1995). The multiplier effect of the Figure 1. The Team Learning Pyramid. three elements of DRM interacting leads to a combined effect greater than the sum of their individual effects. Interesting sources applying the concept of synergy relevant to this thesis include Passfield (2002), Schwaninger (2004), and Vroom (2007). This article examines the distinctiveness of each element, then combines them into a unified whole represented by the three-sided pyramid shown at Figure 1. While DRM can be useful, if not critical, to the work of many teams and is the central focus of this thesis, teams also have certain tasks that they must accomplish, governed by their purpose and objectives, and sometimes by performance charters or targets. Some people, including members of the team as well as others outside the team (other teams, customers, suppliers, managers to whom they report), see this as the work of the team. They do not consider process and affective aspects of team work such as morale, team-building, and managing team effectiveness. An exclusive focus on task is a deceptively simplistic view of the teams work. Such narrow views lead to confusion, focus on symptoms instead of root causes, and insidious complications. For example, misplaced responses (interventions) to team failures, breakdowns, and other problems may actually make matters worse, instead of producing the expected improvements (Hays, 2004). Narrow views also fail to fully explain extraordinary team performance. Teams often excel beyond expectations despite limiting conditions such as lack of training or inadequate tools or other resources. Team problems and successes are often the result of a complex of factors above and beyond the work of the team. The Team Learning Pyramid accounts for performanceexceptional and mediocrenot otherwise explained and holds promise for improving teamwork and collaboration.

See, also, Hays (2008b), who compares high-performance teams and Communities of Practice.

The Team Learning Pyramid offers particular value to groups and team leaders with responsibility for solving complex problems and dealing with dynamic complexity. Complex problems have unique properties setting them apart from simple onesthose Bronner (1993) might call everyday problems). Drawing on Rotmans, Van Asselt, and others, Beers et al. (2006) conclude that complex problems should be viewed as a web of problems crossing disciplines, sectors, and involving multiple stakeholders. They are systemic, meaning that they are embedded in a larger system, itself complex: any change in one area of the system will impact other possibly unidentified and seemingly unrelated elements of the system, often in unanticipated ways. Importantly, the system will try to prevent or reverse the change in effort to re-equilibrate (i.e. return to baseline / status quo), the systems homeostasis mechanism. The nature of complex wicked problems and how they may be tackled collaboratively are explained in Hays (in press a). It is the potential capability and capacity of heterogeneous groups and teams to contend with complex problems that make them indispensable. Bronner (1993) identifies a number of characteristics of complex problems, including first-time confrontations (novelty) with no proven solution path and little related knowledge and experience available, and what he refers to as volume, the size and scope of the problem and ramifications of ways of dealing with it. Christis (2005), Gold (2001), and Vennix (1999) explain complex problems as messy, and describe them and their resolution through the systems thinking / soft systems lens. Calton and Payne (2003) also focus on messy problems in their insightful paper on paradox and multistakeholder learning dialogue. Such problems can only be sufficiently dealt with by diverse work groups comprised of individuals with distinctive and highly complementary skills and perspectives. The Team Learning Pyramid with its emphasis on Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness provides such work groups with framework and discipline that can assist them to get the most out of their diversity. Figure 1 portrays DRM as a unified whole. The pyramid as the icon of the Team Learning Model signifies the convergence and synthesis of Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness. Though the elements are distinct and can operate (or be used) individually, in group collaboration they act interdependently. This means that, in practice, it may be hard to distinguish between Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness, that is, to see the independent operation of any one element. The pyramid was chosen because of its three aspects comprising a whole, the foundation of which is architecturally solid and firmly established in the relevant, respective research literature. Each plane is essential and the three together comprise an enduring edifice. In theory, a group employing each element of the pyramid Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulnessin a concerted way could reach the pinnacle of collaborative effectiveness, achieving and sustaining heights of performance that group members could not otherwise attain or maintain. Collaborative effectiveness is a complex measure of the capabilities and capacities of a group (potency) and their effects (accomplishments), evidenced by the way the group works together (its process) and the achievement of intended and desirable results (its task). It is possible to complete tasks that meet stipulated performance criteria without collaborative effectiveness or at cost to it; but this would be unsustainable. Extraordinary performance is implied by the ring encircling the three Reflection Dialogue vertices of the pyramid in Figure 2, where a team would attain the highest levels of proficiency and sophistication in each of the respective domains, Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness. Each domain is at its most concentrated at the apex where they converge. Optimally, this is Mindfulness where interaction amongst the three elements is greatest and the fullest potential synergy might be realised. Behaviour and processes associated with this highest level of proficiency and effectiveness are enuFigure 2. Team Learning Pyramid depicting merated in the right columns of the three continua presented in the convergence and synthesis at the apexthe table, Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness (DRM) Levels of Sopinnacle of performance and achievement. phistication, included as an appendix to this explication. The DRM Levels of Sophistication table presents thorough descriptions of teams operating at the lowest, moderate, and highest levels of proficiency and incorporation of DRM. The table suggests that team proficiency might be operationalised at five distinct levels: elementary, improving, proficient, advanced, and highly-sophisticated. A figure included in the appendix shows the Team Learning Pyramid comprised of five corresponding levels. Together, the table and TLP diagram can be adapted for use in assessment, professional development (including training and coaching), and progress display. Foundations Four key concepts provide the foundations for the Team Learning Pyramid: Team Learning, Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness. This section defines and discusses the four drawing on relevant theory. Following this brief introduction to the terms and concepts, the basic essentials of their dynamic interrelationship and synergy are described. Dynamics of the model are covered more thoroughly in the Discussion section with reference to the case examples presented later in this explication and linked to the theory introduced here.

Team Learning Team learning is an on-going, dynamic process through which teams adapt their behaviour to better exploit their current circumstances or in response to, or in anticipation of, changes in their internal or external environment. They become more something (productive, effective, resilient, innovative, responsive, reliable) or better at something (changing, learning, creating, reducing errors) that instrumentally leads to greater accomplishment or achievement. Crucial learning tasks are understanding and accepting what is expected of the team, as well as how performance might be measured and why (Hays, 2004). Learning is essentially the gaining of knowledge or acquisition of a skill. Learning can be purposeful and directed, or passive, unintended, and even unconscious. For our purposes here, learning is understood as purposeful activity, or, at minimum, conscious. By definition (inherent in its nature), Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness concerning group process, action, and results is conscious activity. Also, in the team context, learning is a collective endeavour, rather than an individual process (Akgn, Lynn, and Reilly, 2002; Hays, in press b; Kasl, Marsick, and Dechant, 1997; McCain, 1996). While individuals can and do learn independently even in a team situation, it is the concerted nature of learning that is of concern here. In fact, as the case examples show, the sharing of individual and diverse observations, experiences, and learning in the group context through Dialogue and Reflection contribute significantly to team Mindfulness and learning (and meta-learning (Bostrm and Lassen, 2006)). The converse is also true: team engagement in meaningful Dialogue and shared Reflection promotes individual [self-] reflection and Mindfulness, making individuals more capable, a strength that feeds back into teamwork and collaboration. Learning conditions and processes that apply at the individual level generally apply at the collective level, that is, promote or limit group or team learning (Hays, in press b). The purpose of this essay is not to explicate learning, per se, which would be a huge undertaking, but to focus on three elements that synergistically contribute to team learning, Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness. For helpful sources on learning, see Nicolaides and Yorks (2008); van Woerkom (2004); and Yang (2004). Of particular relevance to the Reflection and Mindfulness aspects of learning is Bostrm and Lassen's (2005) paper. Hays (in press b) chapter on team performance and productivity entertains similar themes and provides a complementary perspective of team learning. Just a few of the conditions and processes that impact on learning at both individual and group level are readiness, motivation, previous learning (knowledge, skill, experience), environment (including opportunity), and time. Individuals can, and sometimes must, learn more and differently in the group context than they might in insular [learning] pursuits. Teamwork and group activities continually confront individuals with the effects of their own behaviour, sometimes troubling, sometimes surprising, and often interesting. They also provide multiple viewpoints and strategies. It is this heterogeneity that holds out the promise of team synergy, the groups potential to do more collectively than individuals could do on their own. Kasl, Marsick, and Dechant (1997), for example, discuss the synergistic learning stage (or mode) with respect to teams, which, according to these authors, is the third and most sophisticated level of team learning. Heterogeneity is also a precondition to team learning, limited by a teams homogeneity (sameness), which would curtail options and perspectives. Here, the concepts hybrid vigour and requisite variety are relevant (see Espinosa, Harnden and Walker, 2007; Husted, 1993; Nechansky, 2008; Schwaninger, 2004). Lattimer (1998) refers to this as the diversity factor. Literature on diversity and heterogeneity is also relevant, with Kulik (2004) a helpful, indicative source. Peer interaction is crucial to team learning (Yazici, 2005). The team cannot and will not learn if interaction does not reach and sustain sufficient levels. Collective learning implies sufficient dynamic exchange of ideas, alternatives, and perspectives; even of values, priorities, concerns, and problems. Interaction, being an important performance indicator (or predictor) and component of collaboration and antecedent to team learning, will limit or promote them. Interaction can be collaborative but collaboration requires interaction. Since team learning is a collective endeavour dependent on collaborative interaction, then the quality of the interaction will determine the quantity and kind of team learning that takes place. Attend to the quality of conversation and relationship, Meuser and Lapp (2004; p. 317) recommend if you are concerned with learning and the emergence of knowledge. For us, here, this means the quality of Dialogue and associated group dynamics and process. Reflection and Mindfulness contribute to the quality of Dialogue and the significance of what comes out of it. Peer interaction and collaboration are dynamic, complex, multi-dimensional phenomena. As with teamwork per se, they rely on individuals willingness and ability to engage fully and contribute what they can. Collaborative effectiveness is not automatic; teamwork and collaboration are not for everyone (see Case Example Five). Interaction and collaboration comprise a range of individual and group behaviours and processes that limit or promote effectiveness and, ultimately, learning. These behaviours and processes can be identified and assessed, as indicated by the levels of sophistication table included as an appendix. They can also be learned and improved. The Team Learning Pyramid divides these behaviours and processes into three categories corresponding to Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness, depicted as three separate continua in the table included as an appendix. At the left of each continuum the respective domain is described at its most rudimentary (labeled elementary); at the right, its most advanced, labeled highly-sophisticated. Descriptions are comprehensive enough to provide useful standards against which a given team might be assessed. A team exhibiting predominantly elementary

behaviours and processes would be at the lower 1 and 2 levels of proficiency. A team demonstrating mostly higher-order behaviours and processes characteristic of a highly-sophisticated team would be at the upper th th reaches, the 4 and 5 levels of the Team Learning Pyramidthe pinnacle (Figure 3). The figure included with the table in the appendix may be used to plot a teams status, Levels 1 5 on each dimension. Team Learning concerns both the task (what the team does and what is required of it) and the process (how it does its work). Kasl, Marsick, and Dechant (1997) refer to task (task management in their lexicon) as operating principles and process as interpersonal relationships, which they explain consists of appreciation of teamwork and individual expression. Here, process splits into task process (task procedure and method, which might be prescribed and having to do with quality assurance, safety, efficiency, formal coordination, technical skills, and the like), and group process (how the team or work group members relate to one another; the quality of team member interaction; the effectiveness with which they solve problems and deal with conflict; and their ability to promote and exploit learning). Group process invokes what might be called people skills, i.e. social and emotional intelligence (Bar-On et al., 2003; Hopkins and Bilimoria, 2008; Williams, 2007), and resides in the discipline of group dynamics (Ashforth and Humphrey, 1995; Fambrough and Comerford, 2006, 2004; Kulik, Neck and Manz, 1994; Nicolopoulou, Kotomaj and Campos, 2006; Ohl and Cates, 2006). The three elements of the Team Learning PyramidDialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulnessconcern primarily, though not exclusively, process, both task and group, as defined above. They are meta-competencies (Meldrum and Atkinson, 1998; Smith, 2007), general sets of higher-order skills and abilities needed by many teams and work groups irrespective of their task. These meta-competencies are no less important than task proficiency though they may be harder to assess. The greater the teams autonomy and complexity, and diversity of task and work environment, the more they will need to possess and further develop meta-competencies. This is especially the case for teams and groups whose work requires continual creativity and innovation, or is likely to, itself, evolve, such as might be the case with emerging technologies or new markets. Finally, given the above, team learning consists of: (1) task and process; (2) associated knowledge and skill; and (3) behaviour and processes that (4) can be identified and assessed. Further (5), while DRM comprises subtle and sophisticated individual and group capacities, they can be promoted and developed, that is, improve over time. Team learning is not a simple, straightforward term amenable to precise, unqualified definition. It has many facets, each of which can be the focus for study or intervention. In working with or researching teams, care must be taken not to oversimplify team learning or discount its many features. As a subsystem of the larger system (team), team learning comprises many interacting elements, some of which were introduced above, but none of which singly can explain team learning. It is the relationship among the more influential elements that needs to be understood and that should be the focus of attention. The Team Learning Pyramid provides an example of one such relationship. Dialogue Dialogue is generally understood as discussion between and among people to explore issues and solve problems. As used here, and building on Schein (1993), dialogue is deliberate, purposeful, and sustained. It implies a continuing relationship and set of interactions amongst those involved, which is why it is germane to teams and Communities of Practice. Dialogue hinges on shared concern, invokes a spirit of inquiry and curiosity, and depends on openness to new ideas and willingness to shift position and learn from and with others. Schein (1993) notes that dialogue is at the core of effective group work and a driving force in organisational change. Passfield (2002) emphasises that dialogue is the primary mechanism in collaboration. Dialogue is, then, neither casual conversation nor brief exchange; it is certainly not one-way as in directives, advice, or advocacy. Thompsons (1993) influential article on inquiry and advocacy provides a complementary view. Dialogue is not the kind of conversation we often have where one person speaks andwhile the other has his or her turnis preparing to speak again, as opposed to giving the other speaker full attention and listening openly and without judgement. Jacobs and Coghlan (2005) devote an entire paper to the role of listening in group context and organisational learning. They conclude that listening preconditions social learning. The two persons in the foregoing example may as well be talking to themselves or to someone else because there is no meaningful exchange and building toward shared understanding that is a requirement of dialogue. Dialogue is not debate, for its purpose is not to win arguments or prove points. While debate may serve to highlight the merits of opposing views, it may also entrench positions, which would be antithetical to the ideals of dialogue. Dialogue seeks to get beyond the ordinary and beneath the surface, revealing hidden truths, untested beliefs, flawed myths, and both the beauty and ugliness of reality. Dialogue does not represent, though it may have to acknowledge and contend with, power differentials such as might be the case between supervisor and worker, manager and team, or privileged and disenfranchised. Perceived and real inequalities based on disparities in power will limit dialogue. Much preparatory work might



have to be done to enable real dialogue in such situations; however, parties that begin to address real and perceived problems between them will have made a good start. Further, Dialogue (with a capital D) is a defined process and formal method of communicating, as has been elaborated and exemplified by Isaacs (1993, 1999a, 1999b) and Senge et al. (1994). Other relevant sources include Baker and Sinkula (2002), who call for and describe dialogue as a means for improving [group] learning and promoting innovation (revealing and contending with mental models, belief systems, and assumptions that may be limiting a team's or organisations adaptiveness and responsiveness); McKees (2003) exploration of frames of mind, dialogue, and collaboration; and Scharmers (2001) elucidation of the process of producing higher-order knowledge and understanding in collaborative groups through reflective dialogue and generative dialogue. The essence of such Dialogue is that it results in a new and shared understanding built on mutual contributions. Personal motivations, agenda, and predetermined conclusions are put aside in the interests of coming to that new joint understanding and, potentially, a decision to which all participants commit. Since the process of Dialogue is a sustained one and its potential value is so great, improving the process and the working relationships amongst interactants is a reasonable and meaningful aspiration. One of the aspects that sets Isaacs view of Dialogue (see Isaacs, 1999a or 1999b) apart from a more general understanding or application of dialogue is his incorporation of Kantors four-player system, a set of roles and associated group dynamics that are enacted within a group. The four are Mover, Opposer, Follower, and Bystander. Each is thought to have a critical role in Dialogue, group learning, and action, and act in concert to predicate effectiveness. While an understanding of these roles and attendant dynamics or application is not essential for effective Dialogue, they have been found to provide a focus for group Reflection, analysis of group dynamics, and group learning in general and learning about Dialogue in particular (see Case Example 4). Of particular interest for potential application and further research is the notion of Dialogue (or conversation or problem-solving) as energy flows with corresponding stoppages or blockages that indicate breakdown in communication. Attention to the four roles enables such analysis. Reflection Reflection (Mezirow, 1990) and reflective practice (or discipline) concern serious thought or consideration of behaviour, one's own or a teams, and its consequences and implications. Behaviour includes action and inaction, verbalisation and censoring, and a raft of non-verbal communication. Behaviour encompasses both the kinds of problems a team might undertake and the way the team approaches the task, as well as how team members interact with one another and other stakeholders. This implies that values, beliefs, assumptions, motives and other aspects of team life are all potential fodder for Reflection. The intent of Reflection is learning, improvement, professional development, and building capacity to more effectively deal with complex problems and dilemmas. These outcomes are enabled by the instrumental and intermediary effect on awareness, receptivity, and sensitivity (Mindfulness) that Reflection has. Reflection increases Mindfulness and vice versa (see Figure 3 and the discussion below). Reflection is not a passive process (as in notions of thoughtful or contemplative state). It is (or can be) a deliberate processa discipline or practiceintended to lead to purposeful and effective action: learning through reflection on events and activities to consider potential actions and improvements in difficult situations (Gold, 2001; p. 557). Sophisticated Reflection (particularly shared / group Reflection) does not come naturally and easily to everyone. Mastery of Reflectionas with any other endeavourrequires effort and practice: the development of skills and associated knowledge, and possibly a new state or a shift in being (see Mezirow, 1990). This implies, at a minimum, an individual and group inclination for Reflection to be incorporated into the process of group work. Reflection, as used here, has been described and analysed richly in sources such as Meuser and Lapp (2004); Reynolds (1998); van Woerkom (2004); and van Woerkom, Nijhof and Nieuwenhuis (2002). Hays (2007) places reflection at the centre of his dynamic model of organisational wisdom, the critical feed to, and on par with, learning. Hyrup (2004) does an impressive job of describing reflection in its various facets and, along with a small minority, places reflection in the collaborative (shared) context. See also Shaw and Perkins (1992) chapter on learning from failure. Mindfulness Mindfulness is a state of full awareness and presence (Thomas, 2006). It is the opposite of mindlessness, implying that the mindful individual is acting with reason and understanding of the consequences of his or her behaviour. Mindful people know whats going on within and around them (Thomas, 2006), for instance, how their feelings may be driving their reactions to others, or that others may be operating from a set of concerns of which they, themselves, may be unaware or unwilling to verbalise (Blatner, 2004). Mindfulness allows people to see, hear, and feel things that they would otherwise miss. This means they have access to richer and more complete information. They see the situation for what it is, and better understand the context in which it has arisen. Mindfulness is more than a state of present awareness or even understanding; it also has an active quality about it: one is not just mindful of the current situation, but does something about it. Mindfulness, Thomas (2006)

asserts, is a key linking process between knowledge and action (p. 84). As mentioned above, Reflection and Mindfulness are mutually reinforcing. While Mindfulness has been explored in sources such as Claxton (2006) and Thomas (2006), it is not a mainstream management topic, with exceptions in the literature exemplified by Kernochan et al. (2007); Weick and Putnam (2006); and Weick and Sutcliffe (2006). Interestingly, while never mentioning the term Mindfulness, Schein (1993) indicates that effective dialogue leads to it and vice versa: if we become more conscious of how our thought processes work, we will think better, collectively, and communicate better. An important goal of dialogue is to enable the group to reach a higher level of consciousness. (p. 43) The implication is that groups will automatically become more conscious, thus more effective. The apparent gap in the logic chain, here, seems closed by insertion of Reflection: reflective practice incorporated into the dialogue process can improve attentiveness (consciousness or, in this case, Mindfulness) and collaboration, amplifying the benefits of dialogue, a process elaborated in Hays (in press b). Blatner (2004) refers only occasionally to mindfulness in his exposition on meta-cognition, but for practical purposes his depiction of meta-cognition is tantamount to Mindfulness as understood here and as both sources intend by the term consciousness. His view of consciousness is similar to the upper end of Mindfulness (see the levels of sophistication table in the appendix), not just being aware of one's surroundings, but of ones thinking, its quality, and how it impacts behaviour. He talks, for example, about the awareness of being aware (p. 4). He notes, also, that self-reflection is an example of meta-cognition and that the roots of meta-cognition lie in selfreflecting capacity, providing support for the thesis that Mindfulness and Reflection are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. Thomas (2006) also makes the direct link between mindfulness and meta-cognition, and stresses the active nature of mindfulness. The Basic DynamicsInteraction and Synergy amongst Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness The three elements of the Team Learning Pyramid work in concert (Figure 3). While each is independently valuable and can improve individual and teamwork effectiveness, operating collectively in a virtuous cycle, Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness together enhance and multiply their separate respective benefits. Simply put, as the quality (and perhaps quantity) of Reflection goes up, Mindfulness increases. Conversely, as Mindfulness increases, so does Reflection. This mutually-reinforcing tendency is indicated by the plus sign (+) between Reflection and Mindfulness and within the set of arrows linking them. Virtuous Cycles are explored in sources such as: Akkermans and van Helden (2002), Vlaar, Van den Bosch and Volberta (2007), and Kuznetsov (2008). The basic idea is that the increase in one element of a system leads to increases in subsequent elements in a positively reinforcing loop, compounding the systems desirable or virtuous outputsthings get continually better as opposed to worse, as in the case with vicious cycles. For more information on reinforcing loops, causal loop diagrams, and these aspects of systems dynamics see Binbasioglu and Winston (2004), Hays (2007; 2010a; 2010b), and McKinley and Scherer (2000). Passfield (2002) does an impressive job explaining virtuous cycles and, of particular relevance here, discusses the dynamics between, and spawned by, collaboration and dialogue. The positive relationship between Reflection and Mindfulness (Figure 3) is as a result of there being more observed and attended to (Mindfulness) that provides the substance of or for Reflection. Adding effective Dialogue provides much more material for individuals to process, that is to reflect upon and become mindful of. As the quantity and kind of Dialogue increases, especially concerning a group process such as problem-solving, then group Mindfulness improves correspondingly. For the present, the link between Dialogue and Mindfulness is soft, that is indirect or tentative, as indicated by the dotted line in Figure 2. Dialogue can and does contribute to Mindfulness, but not necessarily or directly. This is similar to the assertion that experience leads to learning or wisdom. It can and does, but only through reflection on experience (Hays, 2007). Reflection may supply the link between Dialogue and Mindfulness, here, as well. As Figure 3 suggests, improvements in Mindfulness lead to enhanced Dialogue Dialogue. This comes as a result of, for example, the team, as individuals + and as a group, becoming more aware of how [well] they are communicating + + Reflection (in Dialogue), and taking active and effective measures to resolve issues and improve their communication process. And, as previous mentioned, + Mindfulness generally improves problem-solving capacity by increasing Mindfulness access to, and enriching perception or interpretation of, data sources. Improved Mindfulness could reasonably be expected to reveal and help Figure 3. Dynamic Interaction of Dialogue, groups navigate blinders and other impediments operating in the group Reflection, and Mindfulness. that limit effectiveness.

Teams, Communities of Practice, and other work groups are often hindered by performance and learning disabilities and embedded flawed practices of which they may be unaware or unable to change (Hays, 2004; 2009). Thompson (1993; p. 97) writes that roadblocks to inquiry include ingrained emotional habits of mind such as immaturity and insecurity. Mezirow (1990), too, provides and explains a number of impeding thinking habits and perception problems. Hays (in press b; in press c) discusses problematic habits of mind and suggests strategies closely-related to DRM for overcoming them. Honest, open, and concerned Dialogue and Reflection will improve team Mindfulness of these impediments and provide the means by which they can be addressed. Teams may have much to unlearn (Akgn et al., 2007; Bettis and Prahalad, 1995; Cegarra-Navarro and Dewhurst, 2006; Cegarra-Navarro and Rodrigo-Moya, 2005; Sinkula, 2002). See Day (1994), McKenna and Rogers (1993), and Senge (1990) for detail on organisational learning disabilities. Cannon and Edmundsons (2001) research on learning from failure is also very instructive. Closing the loop as indicated by the arrows in Figure 3, we see that as Reflection increases, Dialogue increases as well, and that greater Dialogue may lead to greater Reflection as there is more shared substance to collectively reflect upon. Just as for individuals, Reflection in teams and groups does not necessarily go up with increased collaboration and Dialogue, but it may, especially if everyone involved is more Mindful of the value of Reflection and practices this discipline. Passfield (2002) stresses the relationshipwhat he describes as bi-directional between positive psychological states (redefined self and relatedness) and collaboration. They have a mutuallyreinforcing affect. He also notes a similar dynamic relationship between synergy and collaboration. Basically, as people see and experience rewards from collaborating they will be further motivated to collaborate. The complementary thesis, here, is that recognition of positive psychological states is more likely with Reflection and enhanced through Dialogue. The plus sign in the centre of the diagram (Figure 3) represents the positively-reinforcing nature of the three elements in the pyramid model: it is a virtuous cycle. This implies that a generally increasing trend in all of the elements in concert will produces a better system. In team terms this might be manifest in increased creativity, innovation, problem-solving ability, resilience / adaptability, individual professional development and group learning, and in potency as a force for organisational change or community development. Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness are as central to effective collaboration as they are to team learning: they are inputs, or antecedents, to both. At the same time, it is within the context of collaboration that DRM arise and are relevant. The bottom line as far as this thesis is concerned is that effective collaboration equals effective DRM. Collaboration, fundamentally, is working together cooperatively to achieve some common purpose. Collaboration is not just cooperation and getting along. It may be characterised by divergent points of view and ways of approaching a problem, perhaps even riddled with conflict. What makes a group collaborative is its ability to work through conflict and other tough problems and synthesise and channel diversity towards creative solutions. More than cooperative or even complementary, effective collaborators are interdependent. They depend on one anotherin all nuanced understandings of the termto get the job done. The following papers are exceptional and complementary sources on collaboration of relevance to this explication and its themes: Armistead and Pettigrew (2004); Huxham (1994); Parker-Oliver et al. (2005); Raelin (2006); and Treven and Mulej (2006). Case Examples This section provides five case examples of groups and teams that have utilised or exhibited use of Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness. Each group cited is very different, comprising diverse personalities and having unique goals, ways of working, and contexts. With one obvious exception, a similarity between these diverse groups is their inclination to use Reflection and Dialogue to learn and to improve. In no case did any of the groups considered for this exposition set out consciously or deliberately to incorporate the three elements of the Team Learning Pyramid. The idea of the pyramid and the inherent linkages among its three elements did not previously exist or was unknown. That each of the groups included here manifest all three elements and benefit from the synergies amongst them came to light through gradual realisation that DRM were present, interacting, and mutually-reinforcing one another. This explicit realisation and its appreciation are, themselves, the result of Dialogue and shared Reflection and represent a state of Mindfulness across the groups and amongst their respective members. Case Example One: SuperCOP SuperCOP is the name that evolved during the formation of this Community of Practice (CoP) (Hays, 2008b and 2009; Plack, 2006). Members of SuperCOP were all in and involved with other CoPs. These individuals joined together to help them make sense of and work more effectively in their respective CoPs, and to leverage initiatives and gain synergies amongst those Communities of Practice. In a sense it is a meta or super community as it encompasses and subtly influences a wide range of CoPs. As a Community of Practice, SuperCOP has intentionally and consistently employed Reflection to: improve group process and develop as a more effective practice community; promote individual professional development, especially in the area of shared leadership (Bligh, Pearce and Kohles, 2006; Crevani, Lindgren and Packendorff,

2007; Pearce and Manz, 2005; and Wood and Fields, 2007); and build skills, confidence, and efficacy in domains of relevance to some or all of the CoPs members. Those domains, or topics, are the subject of on-going dialogue in SuperCOP. Since its inception, SuperCOP has talked openly and deeply about issues impacting it, its relationship with other university elements, or situations in which one or more of its members are involved outside of SuperCOP. Meeting every two weeks, members (usually in twos or threes) rotate responsibility for developing the agenda and collaborative process to be used in meetings to address questions, problems, or topics. Session topics are seldom developed as something to present. Rather, a process of inquiry or shared activity is formulated appropriate to the issue through which CoP members work as a group. This presumably achieves at least a dual purpose: increasing topic-specific knowledge and furthering group problem-solving skills, including facilitation. It also contributes to shaping the groups culture of equality and democracy. While there have been others areas of focus, particular ones have been and continue to be collegial, collaborative leadership, group process facilitation, supporting (or promoting) organisational change, and establishing and sustaining Communities of Practice. A major topic and underlying theme recently has been Dialogue. Once SuperCOP members were introduced to the topic they realised that they had been more or less using Dialogue all along, but also wanted to learn more about and employ it more effectively. Having a fairly defined process to follow assisted members in Reflecting upon how they went about Dialogue, and made it easier to keep the principles and ideals of Dialogue in mind. How and which members played the Dialogue rolesmover, follower, opposer, and bystanderprovided much to reflect upon and produced many individual and group insights. Was the group employing all the roles? Do people consistently fulfil the same role or do they play different roles at different times? How do the roles as played promote or inhibit Dialogue and its purposes? This type of Reflection was especially useful in thinking about member behaviour outside of SuperCOP, and helped them become more effective in other situations. Comparing SuperCOP process with that of other group work also helped members see what made collaboration work well and what impeded it. The continuous Mindfulness such Dialogue and Reflection promoted ensured that subsequent sessions would be more effective, or at least that individuals were trying to improve, conscious of their efforts, and mutually supporting one another. Dialogue provides just one example of a topic SuperCOP entertained. Not surprisingly, a preoccupying focus was on leadership: the non-positional, facilitative and collegial kind of leadership that was presumed to operate most effectively in Communities of Practice, which tend to be voluntary and serve in parallel to the formal organisation and its hierarchy, structure, and roles (see Hays, 2009). There was, admittedly, a constant tension between expressed and assumed needs for leadership that might provide direction, structure, validation, approval, conflict resolution, and the like, and desires and attempts to be self-directing. What SuperCOP attempted to do, what it actually did and how, were and continue to be the subjects of reflection. Each meeting concludes with a reflection period, and longer activities are peppered with reflective moments (check-ins) to allow for course corrections. Reflective practice has come to embody SuperCOP. In many respects, Reflection is the practice in this Community of Practice. It is sometimes the subject of Dialogue, and often its enabler and complement. Members feel the reflective aspect of SuperCOP has contributed to the building of community and meaningful relationships, stimulated personal and professional development, and made SuperCOP what it is: a test-bed for experimentation and learning. DRM Applications and Implications. SuperCOP illustrates productive focus on developing skills of group process that can be transferred to other teams, groups, and situations through regular use of Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness. DRM is an integral part of the groups work, not an add on seen as more work or discrete training, both as an agreed objective (developing DRM capacity) and the means through which other objectives are met. In addition, the process embodies the groups aspirations for egalitarianism and democracy.

Case Example Two: Community as Means and Ends During 2007 and 2008 a masters level Management and Organisation course was undergoing revision in accordance with its new thrust as signified by the subtitle The Community Project. Each semester students are required to elect one or more projects to work on designed to improve community learning and the quality of the overall learning experience at the university. The course is run as a semester-length seminar/workshop, each weekly meeting linking the course topics (theory) to the stages of the project. There are few lecture periods; each topic is addressed through experiential activities directly or indirectly related to the community project(s). Examples include stakeholder engagement, decision-making and prioritisation, strategic and operational planning, problem-solving, and performance management and measurement, including program evaluation. Students are randomly placed in study groups called learning cells. One of the main tasks of the learning cell is to present a topic from the course text. Students develop a lesson as creatively as possible to engage the rest of the class. They compete informally to make their sessions the most engaging and interactive, and to best relate the topic to course material and experience, including community project(s).

Student experiences all along the way are significant components of the course, with considerable effort devoted to reflecting upon and linking those experiences to associated theory. Given the nature of the course, certain themes and emphases underlie course activities, and provide context for the respective weekly topics and the stages of project implementation. More pervasive themes include service, democracy, and citizenship; empowerment and participation; shared leadership; systems thinking; and culture. These are tied to considerations of the project and the actual experiences students are having, and abstracted to real and hypothetical situations and organisations outside of the class. Students are required to keep and submit reflective learning journals, with this assessment component worth up to 50% of the course grade. Their on-going private reflections help them prepare to reflect publicly during class sessions. Teams are also required to share their reflections on teamwork and team learning as a group with the rest of the class. This shared reflection and continuing Dialogue about project task and process and wider implications improve project implementation and promote individual learning and openness to new ideas, readying students for the real world. Consciousness (Mindfulness) is raised broadly, as this indicative statement from a student suggests: I am much more aware, now, of whats going on all around me. I see how my behaviour affects others. I notice things, and am more questioningnot in an arrogant or belligerent way, but genuinely curious and interested. I dont debate, argue, and contradict everything people say, now, but more actively listen to them and try to see things from their perspective instead of automatically thinking Im right and theyre wrong. My friends have all noticed the change in me. They think Im more there and a nicer person to spend time with. One could argue that promoting such a reflective-mindful nature is beyond scope of a Management and Organisation course and, perhaps, not the professors role and responsibility. But it is intriguing to see that course objectives can be met and exceeded just by creating opportunities for new experiences and giving students the chance to reflect upon and talk about them. The title of this case example, Community as Means and Ends, comes from the students recognition that they as a cohort become a community through working together to improve community. They come to know what a community feels like and depends upon; how community is fostered and sustained; how crisis, conflict, and change impact the community, and what healthy responses look like. They know what shared purpose is and what the realities of diverging goals, values, perspectives, and approaches mean in terms of community. They experience, many for the first time in academia, what real teamwork and collaboration mean. Having responsibility for teaching one another significantly changes the dynamics of the classroom and relationships amongst students, and could reasonably be assumed to contribute to the feeling of community that students report experiencing. DRM Applications and Implications. This case shows that content objectives can be met (and, perhaps, transcended) through appropriate process. Students are required to reflect individually in their journals and publicly in class discussion. Reflection helps consolidate and extend learning, through making explicit connections between theory and practice (their experiences). Shared Reflection amplifies these effects. Class discussion (Dialogue) concerns both task (project work; class lesson / content) and the process through which tasks are accomplished, especially relating to group interaction. Students come to see that work involves much more than the task, itself; and that teamwork involves more than just divvying-up tasks. Dialogue and Reflection produce Mindfulness, which leads to more efficacious behavior and performance, as evidenced through improvements in reflective journal-writing, quality of class discussions, continually better student-led lessons, enhanced project handling, and to a deepened sense of community amongst classmates.

Case Example Three: Teamwork and Team-Building In an opportunity to build teamwork skills and create a more collaborative and effective work culture in a government department, multiple teams were assembled from diverse corporate functions. As part of the teambuilding process, teams undertook training together in various aspects of team theory and principles. Separately, they each were assigned a corporate project to work on that drew on their diverse skills and positions. This was their first chance to apply what they were learning (Period 1, or P1). The work that they did was the subject of ongoing workshop Dialogue. Each team was exposed to the experiences, successes and failures, learnings, and reflections of the others. They could problem-solve together, leverage initiatives, and learn collectively from individual experiences. At the completion of P1, each team had to present a reflective retrospective and lessons learnt to their peers. This included commitments that they would take into the next project cycle (P2), along with why they were making those particular commitments. As with P1, teams had on-going collective sessions to explore progress and compare and contrast it with theory and best practice in P2. They had to report on how they were working differently and better than they had in P1, and discuss the nuances and deeper realisations they were having regarding team work and their individual contributions to its effectiveness, successes, and problems they were experiencing. Workshop activities were designed to work through issues as a larger group where respective teams were stuck (Hays, 2004) either in terms of their project (the task) or their working relationships and effectiveness (the process). Team members came to see that both task and process effectiveness is critical to sustainable high-performance. Realising that

they were succeeding corporately at great cost to individual health and team effectiveness and stability, and that such success were unsustainable, they returned to their own areas with new insights and values regarding team health and function. Moreover, they returned with a heightened consciousness about teamwork and collaboration, and their own role and behaviour and their interaction with and impact upon team mates or individuals in the teams they led (Mindfulness). They began positively changing the organisation as they worked hard to change themselves. DRM Applications and Implications. Training design incorporates Kolbs (1984) experiential learning cycle, as well as a standard project technique (plan-do-check), both promoting deeper learning and likely leading to improved project implementation. Overall process is highly collaborative and hinging on Reflection and Dialogue. Mindfulness is seen in the lessons participants took away with them regarding how their organisation works and how they work within it as part of the system. They became Mindful, for example, that they create and perpetuate the system, and that by changing themselves they could affect the larger organisation.

Case Example Four: Dialogue: Dance, Improv, and Martial Arts Endeavouring to learn more about Dialogue and to become more effective as a group, the Community of Practice began focusing some of its attention on Dialogue as a [cognitive] topic and as a practice. From a knowledge point of view, various members of the CoP found and distributed readings relating in some way to dialogue. The scene from Dances with Wolves described in Isaacs (1999b) and elsewhere, showing the Native Americans in powwow regarding what to do about the crazy lone White Man who had taken up housekeeping in an abandoned fort near their village, was shown a couple of times and discussed. An expert from a consulting company specialising in Dialogue was brought in, and a workshop was held. From a practice standpoint, a number of sessions were run on various topics that were then debriefed. Examining how and when the four roles, Mover, Opposer, Follower, and Bystander, manifested in the sessions and who played each role assisted the reflective process and, no doubt, contributed to individual and group learning. Agreeing that Karl often served as Bystander and how crucial his observations and reflections were on group process, validated his on-going contributions and emphasised how important the Bystander role is to group consciousness and consolidation. It embodies Reflection. Publicly agreeing that Susan was often the Mover, and exclusively played this and the Opposer role over others, highlighted not only her contributions but that her position as team leader was carrying over to the CoP that was intended to be democratic and egalitarian. She agreed that she needed to play the role of Follower and Bystander more often, and spoke about how she often tried to restrain herself, but the compulsion to assert was overwhelming, exacerbated, she suggested, because people seemed to look to her for the final say. Sam, everyone agreed and she, herself, admitted, was most often the Follower, seldom initiating (serving as Mover) but always willing to take the conversation further. She was consistently supportive, encouraging, and enthusiastic, and quick to build on others ideas. Group members affirmed that they could go nowhere as a group if it werent for Sam. She seemed content as Follower, and did not speculate on her reliance on the role or potential for taking on other roles. Hank was acknowledged as the Opposer most often, the groups Devils Advocate. Valacich and Schwenk (1995) and Stone et al. (1994) present interesting studies on Devils Advocacy (DA) and group process / decision-making, both finding that DA leads to better solutions and decisions. Chen et al. (1996) present contradictory evidence on DA, but concede that participatory leaders who encourage open inquiry to yield diverse alternative solutions to problems produce the best solution outcomes. Well liked, trusted, and respected, Hanks oppositions were not seen as rejections, discounts, or dismissals, but as useful reality checks. He had always seen himself, he explained, as a realist, a practical type, and happily played the part. However, he had not been aware of how frequently he served as Opposer or of the fact that he seldom if ever played the role of Follower, Bystander, or even Mover. Upon reflection, he admitted that he almost never gave people positive feedback, and was more likely than not to find the weaknesses in peoples ideas. Despite the groups recognition that opposing was important, Hank committed to following more. He wondered publicly why he seldom moved, suggested things was he more comfortable criticising than initiating? Surprisingly, discussion concerning Dialogue and the groups use of it turned more than once to the martial arts. One of the members had studied several martial arts and she was able to link the idea of energy flows and group dynamics to principles and techniques in martial arts. The group played with the idea of energy flows in Dialogue and related this to force and its applications in fighting arts such as Aikido and Hapkido. There are, for instance, principles of force on force such as might occur when there is a Mover and an Opposer; turning or deflecting force might be a counter-move, a follow, or even a bystand; absorbing force, where the force is incorporated or adopted as in a reasonable follow; accelerating or multiplying force where follows are synergistic; avoiding or neutralising force, a means of stymieing a move or rendering it impotent by neglecting or disregarding it. As it turned out, another person in the group had considerable martial arts training as well, and the two were able to illustrate these principles in action.


The martial arts idea is not too distant from the metaphor of dance that is often applied to group dynamics and other situations. One hears of the dance of conflict, or the dance of change, for instance (see Shackleton, 1994, and Senge et al., 1999). As a result of tribe members witnessing his uninhibited play with Two Socks the wolf, Dances with Wolves became the evocative Indian name of Kostner, the Cavalry officer in the epic movie of the same name. Closer to home, images of dancers, stereo music, and a narrative describing the dance were used memorably in a communications workshop titled Two To Tango. Interestingly, Ferrin, Bligh and Kohles (2008) recently used two to tango in the title of a paper on group dynamics exploring the interdependence of trust and cooperation. In our case, participants found it easy to relate the tango to communications. In an example of convergence of good ideas and synchronicity, one group member described some workplace training he had seen conducted by actors and trainers from a local theatre company. He asked permission of the group to bring them to a session. He was excited about similar concepts and principles he had seen and spoken about with the lead trainer. Soon, the group was engaged in a series of improv (improvisation, or acting) activities using offers and other stage techniques. The reflective sessions during and after the improv activities helped CoP members and their visitors to connect the principles and practices of Dialogue, dance, martial arts, and improvisation, developing a deeper appreciation for each, their unexpected similarities, and how this all fits in the bigger picture. Members of this Community of Practice could never have learned Dialogue so deeply from readings alone or merely talking about it. They had to experience it. Were martial arts demonstrations and improv necessary to experience and learn Dialogue? Probably not; but the value of the diverse and relevant experience and its energy cannot be underestimated. The bonding experience alone was priceless. Reflection on these activities and experiences consolidated the learning, and helped to close the loop linking the important elements that are too often treated as distinct and unrelated. DRM Applications and Implications. This case shows the utility of having a frame for Reflection (the Dialogue roles), enabling participants to safely explore their own and each others behaviour. At the same time, it highlights the role of Bystander as reflector, thus validating the role. The deeply personal and potentially-risky revelations participants made reflect the level of trust within the group, and contribute to building trust. People are then more likely to further disclose and explore behaviour constructively. The case also illustrates how a typical group activity (debrief) can easily be converted and enhanced as a reflective activity; itself an example of rich Dialogue. DRM present a virtuous cycle. Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness, in this case, were enhanced and complemented by metaphor (dance, martial arts, and improv) and embodying or experiencing the metaphors.

Case Example Five: Not for Me, Thank You! Reflective process is not for everyone. In every team and Community of Practice considered for examples of Reflection and reflective practice there was at least one and usually a couple of individuals who refused to participate (seldom openly) or were persistently resistant, evasive, or dismissive. For others, dialogue is reserved for, and limited to, specifics about the task and related task procedures. Group dynamics are considered relevant only insofar as they directly and immediately related to task accomplishment. Thus, if two people are at odds they minimise any contact with one another or are instructed to get along. The only thing that matters is getting the [present] job done. Mindfulness, beyond a general awareness of task requirements and adherence to procedures, is irrelevant and a waste of time. Refusal was most evident in members who opted out completely (did not return after initial exposure) or never really became active fully-contributing members (in contrast to those who bought into the practice-come-culture of the group). Distilled from numerous discussions with acceptors and non-acceptors alike, reasons for non-acceptance include one or more of the following:
Inability or unwillingness to go there (to discern and / or disclose qualities of oneself to others; to listen and

deal with the disclosures of others).

Propensity for task over process. Preoccupation with busyness and the doing of concrete things; impatience.

Sometimes coupled with discounting the value of Reflection and the reflective process and / or a belief that they have no place in the work world.
Sense of urgency and need to progress tangibly, where Reflection and Reflective process are too easily and

naturally waived or sublimated.

Intolerance or non-acceptance of others views or the possibility that they may be right, correct, or reasonable.

A sense that Im there already and dont need this navel-gazing.

Narrow tolerance for ambiguity, equivocality, imprecision, subjectivity. High needs for control, predictability,

rationality. One project team of eight endeavoured to incorporate shared Reflection into its weekly meetings. It was thought that Reflection would help the team better run the project and learn more consistently and continuingly as it went


along. In a case of assumed agreement and support for the commitment, a couple of the members found every reason to miss meetings, leave early, or even leave the team for other projects. Remaining members continued to use Reflection as a tool and discipline benefitting them as individuals (and possibly as a team), but the group never really became more than a project team functioning at a minimal level, and those who left or moved to the periphery were soured to Reflection as a viable and valuable process and discipline. Their views on Dialogue were reinforced: going there is not only unnecessary, but leads to problems such as conflict, stalling and analysis paralysis, reversals, revisits, and losing ground, overall undermining progress. Populating teams for subsequent projects became a follow-on problem as certain individuals refused to work with others as a result of their previous experience. DRM Applications and Implications. Here, Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness fail to contribute to team effectiveness and learning. In fact, experience is a harsh teacher and some members involved become hardened against DRM and less likely to employ or benefit from DRM in the future. The case reveals that DRM is not for everyone, and that populating teams can become an issue. DRM can be confronting; some team members may just not be ready to engage, being unwilling or unable to go there. People might need a more gradual exposure to DRM to become comfortable with the elements and what they have to offer. For some, training outside the team or work context may be helpful. Some people may remain inclined to focus on the work of the team instead of teamwork, or prefer to work in individual contributor roles as opposed to in group situations. Some may persist in the belief that problems in the team should be fixed by the boss, not them. The increasing likelihood that work and workplaces will be even more collaborative and complex in the future, however, suggests that many workers and their managers will need to develop and employ sophisticated group process skills and capacities that Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness both manifest and promote. It may become impossible to evade these techniques or master collaborative skills in other ways.

Discussion The Team Learning Pyramid (Figure 1) is a model of team learning premised on three meta-competencies, Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness (DRM). The elements have been covered in the scientific literature, but with some exceptions treated separately. The three elements have not been previously directly linked as here with the TLP, though precedent is located in recent work by Hays (in press b; in press c). Additionally, support in the literature has been found for the dynamic [dyadic] relationships and interaction between the elements as conjectured in Figure 3. DRM have each been shown independently to impact positively upon individual and group learning, effectiveness, performance, and change, as the range of sources included herein attest, some of the more influential including Grant (2001), Hyrup (2004), Isaacs (1993), Jabri (2004), McKee (2003), Reynolds (1998), and Thomas (2006). Uniting DRM into the Team Learning Pyramid is an attempt to gain even more out of each element. Preliminary research suggests that they can and do operate synergistically, as the case examples reveal. Noteworthy sources, here, include Beers et al. (2006), Blatner (2004), Bostrm and Lassen (2006), Calton and Payne (2003), Meuser and Lapp (2004), and Shaw and Perkins (1999). Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness are called meta-competencies here because they are of a higher order than many other technical, procedural, and process skills, abilities, and associated knowledge. As metacompetencies they serve to enhance and exploit those lower-order skills. Listening, as a prime example, is significantly improved when, through Reflection and Mindfulness, one's attention has become more acute and one's openness and readiness to hear what is really being said is expanded. More broadly, a teams complex problem-solving capabilities are substantially extended when effective Dialogue is employed and when Reflection and Mindfulness have joined forces to overcome individual and group impediments to learning and heighten inquisitiveness, insight, and perspicuity. The previous section presented five case examples of teams and groups working together. Each case was chosen because it illustrated the application and interaction of Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness. SuperCOP, in CE1, incorporated Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness into its work and can be said to embody DRM. A strong focus on developing group process skills is evident, as are currents of democracy and equality in SuperCOPs use of DRM. It is hard to tell which came first, the ideals or the practices, but they are unquestionably compatible. Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness are each evident in CE2, where they are incorporated as learning strategies and applied to theory, project (task), and process. Further, community is built through employment of, and attention to, these processes. This has important implications for Communities of Practice, community development (Hays and Collis, 2010) and Action Learning (Passfield, 2002; Raelin, 2006; and Yeo, 2006) projects, learning communities, and other group initiatives that strive to achieve more than a basic task, where, for example, empowerment and emancipation are values or goals. In such cases, the process and its consequences are perceived as significant outcomes in and of themselves. By example, the implementers of a project intending to improve customer service would need to employ and demonstrate the behaviours and values inherent in customer service in every step of the project. What employee wouldnt want to be involved if made to feel truly valued, needed, and included?


The team-building initiative showcased in CE3 shows the empowering nature of Mindfulness as participants became aware that they are part and parcel of the system and that they can transform it through changing themselves. Dialogue and Reflection are shown to be critical aspects of implementing successful projects and continually learning from the experience. CE4 shows the inherently risky environment that group work creates and also how facing that risk contributes to building trust. Greater trust permits more meaningful and potentially effective collaboration. The forthright Dialogue participants undertook concerning roles illustrates a non-judgemental stance and willingness to learn. The case also highlights the dynamic synergy amongst Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness and how they may create a virtuous circle, with consciousness feeding improvements in group dynamics and effectiveness, in turn, leading to greater willingness to participate and collaborate further. As CE5 unfortunately demonstrates, Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness are not for everyone, at least not without a gradual immersion. The case is useful because it tells us more about what is missing and what a team or work group might require for DRM to be useful for members. Collective engagement was clearly missing. Some participants, at least, were unwilling or unable to go there. Readiness was an issue. If members were uncomfortable with the processes and substance of DRM, they might have had previous negative experiences with their project team members or others that made them reluctant to engage. Eroded or insufficient trust would be enough to preclude adopting and realising the full potential of DRM. Hays and Collis (2010) explore challenges to Dialogue and collaboration under such conditions in their conference paper on development of indigenous policy. Insufficient group problem-solving and other skills of teamwork and collaboration could also be factors, as could lack of confidence. Power differentials might also explain unwillingness or inability to share and exchange. Some individuals dismiss group process altogether and just want to get on with the job. These individuals do not realise the value and probable necessity of teamwork and collaboration. While you can never please everyone and you cannot coerce people into engaging fully in DRM, most people, given time and exposure, and allowed to participate to the degrees they find acceptable, will slowly begin to see the value of DRM and surely (if cautiously) begin to develop requisite skills and confidence. In the author's experience, some individuals resistant or dismissive of Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness have become adherents. These are not the kinds of processes that can be foisted upon people. They travel best as invitations or offers. People will come to Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness when they see that these topics and processes are safe, practical, and relevant to their personal or professional lives. Conclusion The Team Learning Pyramid amalgamates three meta-competencies related to learning, effectiveness, performance, and change. These meta-competences are of relevance to teams and work groups across a range of endeavours and spanning different levels of authority and autonomy. They embody habits of mind and group process skills necessary in collaborative work involving complex problems and tough decisions, including, especially, where learning and change are sought. DRM are particularly important when working in crossdisciplinary and multi-stakeholder (heterogeneous) collaborations, and when relationship-building and sustained performance are of concern. DRM comprise a crucial and widely-applicable set of collaborative and learning capacities. This does not, however, discount the fact that most teams have a set of tasks that they must accomplish requiring their own specific technical skills and domain knowledge. Even here, DRM can be brought to bear on task-practice improvement, but gains will probably be most appreciable in the face of the unknown and multifarious. Linking the three discrete meta-competencies, Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness into one synergistic learning model was a reasonable and natural conjunction based on observations of and participation in diverse teams, work groups, and Communities of Practice, some portrayed in the preceding case examples. Complementing experience in and with work groups, including those with specific organisational change mandates, were studies in and around various aspects of group work; organisations, management, and leadership; empowerment and democracy; education and adult learning; organisational development and change; and systems thinking and complexity theory. References to and from these widely differing but corresponding fields have been woven into foregoing sections of this exposition where thought helpful. To unite and enshrine DRM in the Team Learning Pyramid and the model for team learning it presents is just the beginning. More research is needed to test the relationships between and amongst the three elements, Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness, including directions of influence and their potency. And more investigation of the three elements applied in practice in diverse teams and settings is called for. How do they work in concert, when, and under what conditions? Is the Team Learning Pyramid suited to all teams and work groups, or only certain types? Are the processes and skills useful for a broad range of problems and situations, or particular cases? At present, there is no curriculum governing the Team Learning Pyramid, no standard package or formula for introducing it or training team members in its use, and no robust assessment device. The levels of sophistication table provided as an appendix offers a starting place for assessment and for the design of training programs. But


more needs to be specifically ascertained with respect to proficiency and performance in the three areasDRM and how best to develop the respective capacities. Present focus in SuperCOP and other team-building initiatives centres on attempting different strategies for introducing the Team Learning Pyramid and its three complementary disciplines, and building capabilities in and across Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness. Early work suggests that just raising awareness of related habits of mind, skills, and individual and group behaviours makes an appreciable difference in collaborative effectiveness. Somehow, these disciplines have been supplanted in our workaday, busy lives. We no longer seem to have or to take the time to practice these disciplines and cultivate our competencies, which only exacerbates problems confronting us today and hinders our capability to contend with them. 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Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness (DRM) Levels of Sophistication Dialogue Elementary Improving Proficient Advanced Highly-Sophisticated

Dialogue is minimal. Conversation amongst team members remains at a level sufficient only enough to address priority task issues and coordinate work, and is most often between two team members, team leader and worker, or within sub-groups. Nonwork-related communication stays at a casual, surface, and safe level (e.g., talk about sports or work social events). Talk seldom touches on interpersonal relations, teamwork and collaboration, or work or group process. Sensitive issues are not brought up publicly; if dealt with, they are dealt with privately. If conflicts arise, they are suppressed or the team leader or some other authority or mediator intercedes. Things are mostly taken as givens and there is little need to talk about them. Team learning and improvements are, as a result, at their most basic level, concern mostly work procedures, and are incremental.

Dialogue is rich and frequent. Space and time are made to talk about issues of concern to the team and its individual members. Dialogue is seen as the key to effective collaboration, team learning, and performance improvement. The team is willing to take on any and all topics that conceivably impact on performance and effectiveness. Little is taken for granted or as given, so anything about their work and how they do it is fair game for discussion. Why? and why not? questions are often asked, and do not go unanswered. All team members engage in dialogue and exhibit high levels of communication skill. They work hard to ensure everyone remains involved and connected. They keep focused on open-minded inquiry, and keenly listen to one another. Communication problems are quickly realised and addressed, and all sides of topics are heard and validated. The team strives for shared understanding and collective meaning-making. Hidden and personal agendas are surfaced and acknowledged, but debate and advocacy are minimised with the goal being to come to some sort of conclusion everyone has helped create. The team entertains all levels of task and process, and are especially concerned to optimise their communication, interaction, and group process in order to continue to learn and develop as individuals and as a team. Dialogue ensures they remain collectively conscious of their process, including what and how well they are learning. Learning can be radical and transformational as they are working at many levels of complexity and inquiring into the very heart of their work and their organisation. They are also more likely to engage in effective Dialogue with other stakeholders, which would also promote learning and change.

Reflection Elementary Improving Proficient Advanced Highly-Sophisticated

Team reflects occasionally, usually when reminded. Reflections are basic and surface-level, limited to more obvious aspects of teamwork and emphasising task over process. Propensity is toward facts and givens, with few, if any, feeling statements, subjective contributions, or disclosures concerning uncertainty, or anxiety. Reflective participation is uneven, with a minority of the same team members making the most frequent contributions. Censoring is obvious, with few threatening or risky assertions. Topics or behaviours seen as destructive to harmony and stability are quickly stifled or ignored. Disputes and disagreements are not handled publicly and in the moment, but are often addressed by sub-groups outside of team meetings. You might see the more reflective members talking amongst themselves during group sessions or outside of meetings, indicating lower perceived levels of trust and safety, lack of presence and engagement, or even arrogance.

Reflection is built into regular team meetings and project reviews. Special reflective activities are incorporated when the team is undergoing or has performed something unique and particularly challenging. More general and comprehensive reflection sessions are held on a regular basis, at least quarterly. Team exhibits the highest levels of Reflection, as evidenced by the depth, meaningfulness, and overall quality of reflective observations and team response to them. No topic is taboo, and all topics are reasonably considered. Reflection concerns both task and process. The team identifies, acknowledges, and challenges assumptions, beliefs, biases, and values that affect their performance. The team has and employs effective processes for dealing with Reflections raised that appear to be limiting performance and effectiveness. All team members engage with the reflective process and take it on earnestly and with the best of intentions.

Table. Three continua: indicative behaviours and processes associated with Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness.


Table (Continued). Three continua: indicative behaviours and processes associated with Dialogue, Reflection, and Mindfulness. Mindfulness Elementary Improving Proficient Advanced Highly-Sophisticated

Team is mindless concerning anything more than the bare essentials of the work required of it. While cognisant of work methods and procedures, team members would not necessarily think of them until and unless there is a breakdown or other problem. The team spends little time thinking about how to do things better, though some of the more obvious things are noticed and acted upon. Even then it is usually the task or work content that is the focus of attention. Even if aware that there are problems in the team such as conflicts, misunderstandings, and lack of coordination, the team does not think about why or what to do about them. The tendency is to blame others inside or outside of the team for problems: there is little self-awarenessthe idea that one might be causing problems oneself or that others may see things differently. There is little to no thought about how team members relate to one another or how they interact and work together. Team members seldom notice intra- or inter-group problems that arise and, when they do, disregard them or expect someone else to deal with them. They might blame the system but fail to realise that they are part of it. They do not see that they are stuck in the same routinesthat while the music may have changed they are dancing the same. They do not know what they are learning, if anything, or that they should be. They do not know what they dont know.

The highly-sophisticated team is deeply and continually Mindful of what is going on inside and around the team. They are always aware of the work of the team and sensitive to degradations in or threats to performance. They appreciate that the work of the team is as much how the team works together and with others as it is with achieving the tasks required of it. They care about doing their work to the best of their ability and are constantly looking for ways to improve. They know when they are working well and when they arent. They employ Dialogue and Reflection very effectively to get to the crux of the matter and ensure collective understanding of what is going on. They are Mindful of deficiencies in their skills and knowledge and of opportunities to learn and improve; and they are very conscious of improvements they make and how. They are sensitive to non-verbal cues and tactfully work to ensure everyone is engaged and fully present. They strive to bring out thoughts and feelings on the inside so that everyone has a chance to see the world from others points of view and obtain a richer, more informed view of reality. They are aware of group process at various levels, their own inner states, their physical interaction with others, the groups overall dynamic, how the group relates to the larger organisation and other stakeholders. They are willing and able to talk about these things, and they do so as part of continuous improvement. Being Mindful of activity on many levels allows team members to see complex relationships, subtle influences, trends, and patterns. As a result, learning is often transformative; and the team can work within its system more effectively and effect greater change in it.

A version of this figure could be used by teams as a graphic to record proficiency and track progress. A team might shade up to level 3 on all faces, indicating a similar proficiency in all three dimensions. Or, a team could have varying proficiency amongst the three dimensions, in which case the planes would reflect (be shaded) respectively, say, Level 4 for Dialogue, 3 for Reflection, and 2 for Mindfulness.




The Team Learning Pyramid reflecting five levels of proficiency.