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Learning and Identity

When people, teams or organisations know something and then discover that it is no longer completely correct, then pressure is created not only to learn something new. The question also arises, more or less, whether one is still ‘ok’ ‘within oneself’, when one’s knowledge is ‘incorrect’. (“How could we have been so mistaken?”). Therefore, learning also has a bearing on the identity of the system. This is a further reason why learning is not necessarily popular when it meets existing competence.

People, teams and organisations, which are already unstable within themselves, are often characterised by insisting on their opinions, defending the status quo to the end, by being inflexible and by cultivating stubbornness. This is not because the arguments for the new are too weak, but rather, because the affected systems are too weak on the identity level to be able to learn. It is too threatening to the self-esteem, to the status quo, to the reputation, to the brand, to the position, to the structure and much more. For this reason, it’s often pointless to raise arguments for the new again and again in such guiding processes (“Shall we continue as before or do we innovate?”), when we can suspect that the other party is not against the new, but does then not know who he is, when the old is no longer valid. Here, a change of level is required, which allows one to address the identity subject. Otherwise the old becomes a ‘front of futility’!