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Why is Un-learning important? How do you deal with it?

Have you ever tried to drive on the left side of the road if you are born in a country in which one drives on the right? Or have you broken out in a sweat trying to learn a foreign language or the latest version of a software system you have been using for years? All these situations confront us with replacing one behavior with a totally different one; one in which our previous knowledge acts as a barrier to learning something new. How do you deal with this challenge?

It’s important because...

Good, quality training programs are focused on creating a change of behavior that affects the bottom line in an organization. We fail in this effort if we do not recognize that people’s ability to acquire new knowledge in the workplace on an ongoing basis is limited by:

  • their previous knowledge/skills and deeply held assumptions
  • their previous attitudes towards their organization's change initiatives/new programs/new opportunities.

Confronting the dimensions of unlearning and relearning results in more effective learning experiences that strengthen the possibilities of real organizational renewal

Unlearning should not be viewed as an end in itself, but as a means to ensure learning excellence, innovation, and ultimately change.