From the Balcony to the Dance Floor
James “Dennis” Warman
Leadership in the 21st Century
May 29, 2015
Instructor: Dr. Ellen Kaye
I really desire to put into practice what I have learned from Leadership in the 21st Century
college course. I have a deep desire for my organization to become a true learning organization.
The irony to my desire is that my organization is involved in education of children kindergarten
through twelfth grade. I have set up learning environments in my organization, but not based on
the art and practice of learning organizations. The trainings were designed to meet an immediate
need based on a lack of knowledge or experience. Currently, we have ...view middle of the document...
My goal was to get out the information. Now if my goal was to further expand my
organization as a learning organization as Senge explains, “Learning organizations are
organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly
desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is
set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together” (Senge 1990, 2006,
p.3), then I would have had a more comprehensive approach to the training. With this
experience, I realize that I have to break through my “Mental Model” of training for training
sake. Senge describes this hold on me through, “The discipline of mental models starts with
turning the mirror inward; learning to unearth our internal pictures of the world, to bring them to
the surface and hold them rigorously to scrutiny. It also includes the ability to carry on
‘learningful’ conversations that balance inquiry and advocacy, where people expose their own
thinking effectively and make that thinking open to the influence of others” (Senge 1990, 2006
To accomplish this goal I will begin to break apart my mental model of training to
transform into a “Community of Practice,” (Wenger) as Senge espouses, through dialogue.
Essential to Senge’s team learning discipline is dialogue. Inspired by physicist, David Bohm’s
concept of dialogue “where a group becomes open to the flow of a larger intelligence, and
thought is approached largely as collective phenomenon” (Senge 1990, 2006 p. 10). Senge
believes that the ability to dialogue with other members would develop such a collection of
intelligence, which is greater than the sum of the brainpower of each individual member. This is
where I take my team to visit the “Balcony” to gain a global view and see from another
perspective. Here, members of my team will suspend their assumptions collectively and in a
collegial manner dialogue to explore the mental model. Through a balance of dialogue and
discussion new views will emerge and a course of action laid. Seeking as another goal of
participating in a continuous cycle of improvement, I would layer on reflection. Senge offers, “If
dialogue articulates a unique vision of team learning, reflection and inquiry skills may prove
essential to realizing that vision” (Senge 1990, 2006, p.231).
At this point and having this experience, I believe we are poised to build a shared vision.
According to Peter Senge, “When there is a genuine vision, people excel and learn, not because
they are told to, but because they want to” (Senge 1990, 2006 p.9). Through dialogue, the vision
grows clearer and enthusiasm for its benefits grow. In developing a shared vision, the goal is to
create a sense of mission, a sense of commonality, an identity and a sense of purpose. I desire
and will seek to build our organization into an extraordinary entity that radiates excitement. The
process for this is what...