Decision Maker® Process–Changed Environment
Decision Maker® Process–Changed Environment
This Decision Maker®Process is particularly useful in organizations to facilitate unlearning. It is used to eliminate beliefs when the existing belief was logical and appropriate for an earlier environment that no longer exists.
In the DM Belief Process that is used with individuals, a belief is eliminated when the subject realizes that his belief is merely one arbitrary interpretation of the events that engendered the belief. That the belief is "a truth" and not "the truth." (A belief is nothing more than a statement about reality that we consider to be "the truth.")
This is accomplished by distinguishing several different possible meanings for those events. If the events could have several different meanings, then there is no inherent meaning in the events. If the meaning is not in the events, then it must be in the mind of the person who made it up. (See Description of the DM Belief Process for more details.)
In the DM Process–Changed Environment the method for getting the subject to realize that his belief is "a truth" and not "the truth" is to have him discover that his belief was a valid interpretation only of the specific events that engendered it. A different set of events would have led to a different belief.
As soon as the subject realizes that his belief is "a truth," not "the truth," that it is a function of a specific environment that no longer exists, the belief will disappear and will not return. Unlearning will have occurred. At that point it is possible to create a new belief that is consistent with today’s environment. This belief, however, will be held as "a truth," so that it will not have to be unlearned.
Here is a practical business example of how the DM Process–Changed Environment can be used to help employees unlearn. Assume that in an organization all software upgrades and hardware changes must be made by the Information Services Department, which is so busy that long delays occur. Attempts to get members of the IS Department to allow other employees to do some of this work are met with significant resistence. Their response is: If we allow anyone else to install software or hardware, our entire information system will be jeopardized.
In other words, they have learned that only they are qualified to purchase and install software and hardware. What they think they already know to be "the truth" prevents them from changing. Before they can allow other employees to assume any of their current responsibilities, they have to unlearn what they know is their responsibility.
Here is how you can use the DM Process–Changed Environment to help them do that.
Start by asking members of the Information Services Department to describe what they do. Their answer will be the precise behavior that needs to be changed.
The next step is to ask them what they believe that results in that behavior. They would answer:
Point out that their behavior as they described it can be totally explained by their beliefs. The next question to ask is: What is the source of these beliefs? What happened that led to those beliefs? IS employees who have been around since the late 1970s and early 1980s would respond that when the department originally was created:
Explain that, given this environment in which the beliefs were created, they made perfect sense. Almost anyone would have reached the same conclusions if this were what they observed in the world.
Then ask: Can you see that the beliefs about what an IS Department should do are a direct function of the environment in which they were formed? Can you see that if the environment had been different, you would have created a different set of beliefs about what the IS department should do? In other words, can you see that your beliefs about your function are "a truth," not "the truth"? At this point, the belief is gone and unlearning has occurred.
Once that distinction is made, ask them: Is the world the same today as it was when you originally formed your beliefs? IS staffers would answer, no, and go on to describe the environment in which they are operating today:
Summarize by asking: If the IS Department's behavior is a function of its beliefs, if the beliefs were the inevitable result of the earlier environment in which they were created–and if today's environment is drastically different, should you be doing the same thing and believing the same thing as you used to? The answer is: Obviously, not.
Once it becomes clear that the beliefs that determine the behavior in the IS Department are not "the truths," but "a truths" that were valid only at the time they were created, they disappear as beliefs. Unlearning has occurred. Employees then are able to repeat the original process of trying to make sense of the current environment without already knowing what they will see there.
Conclude this process by asking: Look at the environment today, interpret it and form new beliefs, which will result in behavior that's appropriate–for today.