#Change11 Inquiry in the networks

Based on Dave’s presentation, I was a bit surprised initially by Dave’s views on appreciative inquiry :”Appreciative Inquiry is often unethical and used in inappropriate contexts; it tells people what stories they are allowed to tell. Open space is also like this in that it rewards consensus and punishes dissent. Anyone who survives in an open space does so because the only people there are those who listen – everyone else votes with their feet.”

I have created a post here on appreciative inquiry.  Not sure if that is what Dave was referring to – on appreciative inquiry.

Jenny raised a post relating to how dissenting ideas or views were being perceived by people in the networks.  Here she says:

But the open space offered by the net and open courses such as Moocs, allows those of us who are not learning in such highly complex situations to encounter a greater diversity of alternative perspectives than might otherwise be the case.  That is the point of Moocs, along with learning from these alternative perspectives through interaction and having the autonomy to vote with your feet (i.e. walk away) if you so wish.

Matthias’ response here with a post on Open Space Binary Participants.

If the open space is perceived as a network, not a group, then there is no such thing as the binary (black or white) status of collaborator or non-collaborator, and no pressure for the binary status of nodding or walking away. Instead, the three options of agreement, non-reaction, and dissent, may now be handled differently:

I reckon both Jenny and Matthias have pointed towards the unique nature of inquiry and responses in open space as a network (like that in MOOC), with no convergence of what might be perceived as absolutely collaborative or cooperative, and that people have the right to agree, non-react, dissent, or just leave.   What individual could exercise in networks would be autonomy when raising one’s voice or “voting”, which may not be available in groups, as one must either agree, disagree, or abstain in voting, when making decisions.  This may however not appeal to people who have been educated in a group decision process, where a decision is expected to be made, with consensus.

I think Dave’s point – in open space, it rewards consensus and punishes dissent is equally applicable in closed space or in institution, where group or team work is emphasized.  However, in an open network or space, rewarding consensus and punishing dissent seem to be done in a more subtle way, though it is arguable whether it is ethical to do so, or whether it involves too much intervention or manipulation.  What are the normal reactions of people being appraised?  Delighted.  This is where positive reinforcement, under behaviorism, plays a part.  But would this lead to group think? Or sometimes echo chamber?  On the other hand, what are the normal reactions of people being punished, because of their dissent?  Dissatisfied, keep defending the position, or just walk away.  But in a virtual open space, these are only “observable” so far in the words or messages, picked up from the tones, images, or the silence one would perceive, as the “body language and other gestures” of the people not happy or walking away won’t tell us their stories.  Besides, there are so many assumptions behind these stories, as each story could be differently interpreted.  Such stories could be found in many of the MOOCs – CCK08, CCK09, CCK11, PLENK2010, and in Change11.
Relating to the context of decision making, Cynefin framework is based on the executive perception of the situation and the decision arising from an experience of the following:

all human interactions are strongly influenced and frequently determined by our experiences, both through the direct influence of personal experience, and through collective experience, such as stories or music.

What I found it interesting is that such social environments are often a blend of simple, complicated and complex scenarios, where people could easily arrive to solutions based on certain assumptions, experience, rather than the actual  sensing of the situation, as one can pick this up from the diagram, with sense-making the basis of all scenarios.  In MOOC, I think the critical learning is related more with how one inquires, and how one would engage in the conversation, without too much worries about the “negotiation” or conflict resolution, as in the case of face-to-face conflicts situation or group’s conflict resolution.  The essence of networked learning is not necessary to come up with resolution of conflicts, or to come up with ONE definite solution to a problem.

In MOOC, it is more about diversity of opinions, based on thoughts leadership, and the use of narratives in telling our stories, and learning through those stories.

“I found thought leadership useful in networked learning, in particular when applying this concept in the case of networked organisation and community leadership.  Thought leadership has none of the managerial overtones of organising action, executing tasks, making decisions or coordinating effort toward achieving joint goals.  In fact, there might not even be joint goals in the small groups or communities.  Instead, the emphasis could be the creation of new knowledge and development of innovative ideas through builds and bounds of ideas, conversation and dialogues.  In this context, thought leaders are not empowered, not given authority to make decisions.  They are, rather, what Hamel (2001) calls revolutionaries, employees who challenge the status quo and press for change. (see Thought leadership)”

This is similar to processes such as Ritual Dissent, where people are literally harangued for their ideas, are needed in today’s education system, as cited by Jenny.  Facilitation in MOOC is never easy then, as we could witness from the MOOCs so far.  Everyone is different, but could be valuable in adding ideas and thoughts to the community and network.  Just one small bit at a time, from each brain and mind.  The inquiry and conversation drives the learning through those connections.

Picture: Sourced from Nicola Avery blog

So, what seems to be differently perceived sounds similar in a number of respects to me.  What do you see similarly or differently then?  Is facilitation the solution?

Here is appreciative inquiry. Did it work in MOOC?


11 thoughts on “#Change11 Inquiry in the networks

  1. I am posting my comments in response to Jenny’s post.
    @Jeff, “the solution was to make sure you had different-minded people on your team, doing the observation with you.” That’s easier said than done, in group or team working, though people really want different-minded and skilled people on the team. It depends on the context – what you want from the group or network? Ideas, or decision? If you want more ideas, network could be helpful, but Wisdom of Crowds may not help you to explain those ideas, though they may be a guiding force for the decision. If you want to make a quick decision, then you might find it quicker and easier from network, but then the group would likely give you one consensus based on voting, but not always having diversified opinions, as you want an “agreed” solution. So, this may be translated well in open learning environment, when making decisions. The decision making process seems to be much more complicated in such networks. John

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