Transformative Learning For Change – Leah Wilmoth

Recap: 11/18/20

LWD Member and human-centered learning designer, strategist, and facilitator Leah Wilmoth led and facilitated a creative conversation centered around Transformative Learning. The conversation was valuable to all LWD Members as we navigate these times creatively and productively.

Leah Wilmoth (Learn & Work) is a human-centered learning designer, strategist, and facilitator. She partners with organizations experiencing change to develop interactive and transformative learning programs that drive employee performance with purpose. Whether it’s a new hire onboarding program, virtual training or leadership development strategy, Leah weaves expertise in instructional design, adult learning and development, and facilitation. She’s a life-long learner with a BA in Art History from Western Michigan University and MA Ed. in Adult and Continuing Education from Portland State University. A Michigander at heart, Leah currently resides in Portland, Oregon where she dances and performs, hikes, travels, shares meals with friends, speaks broken French, and decorates interiors.

Key Take Aways From Discussion:

2020 has been anything but “business as usual.” With how we work and where we work in transition for the foreseeable future, transformative learning and transformational change theories can help. Through facilitated discussion and engaging activities, participants learned how the practice of critical reflection can transform and uplift an organization and, most importantly, its people during times of change. 
With workplaces in constant transition for the foreseeable future, it’s crucial that we understand how to help employees transform.

Transformative learning, a theory about change, was developed by Jack Mezirow, an American sociologist whose work shaped adult learning and development. He argued that critical reflection, a key concept of transformative learning, can help during times of change because it focuses on individual transformation. Therefore, it’s vital that workplaces provide opportunities for employees to critically reflect if they want to foster real learning and real change across their organization.

There are 3 main phases of critical reflection:

  • Recognition: identifying feelings and assumptions about a disruptive event 
  • Exploration: developing a new perspective to deal with the challenges surfaced by that event
  • Planning: creating a course of action to integrate that new perspective

An example of how critical reflection produces organization change: 

A small tech subsidiary is going through a radical change due to the legally mandated breakup with its larger holding company. With a group of 30 managers in the organization, critical reflection was useful in dealing with moral and ethical dilemmas of the breakup, evaluating goals and strategies in the organization, and improving work practices. 

Critical reflection is essential for organization change. By recognizing our feelings and assumptions about changes in the workplace, exploring new perspectives, and taking action on those new perspectives, individuals can be powerful catalysts for organization change.