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TOOLBOX on Organisational Learning

The toolbox provides 16 tools – 8  mental models and 8 practical tools or methods – that can support organisational learning in your organisation. The models and tools addresses complexity, what it takes to create a learning culture, and what social practices that can nuture collective learning, and how learning can be feeded forward. The toolbox can be used within your organisation, with partners (e.g. monitoring visits) or in projects.

The underlying approach of the toolbox is a systemic participatory approach (with inspiration from Art of Hosting) to leadership, organisational change and learning. It is developed in collaboration between Global Focus and James Ede and Anne Madsen, Status Flow.

Each tool consists of a short description of principles and practical application.


1. Art of Hosting and Harvesting 9. Action Learning Partnership Approach
2. Core Learning Capabilities 10. The Circle Practice
3. The Cynefin Framework 11. Appreciative inquiry
4. Five Organising Paradigms 12. Collective Story Harvesting
5. Mechanistic and Living Systems 13. Powerful Questions
6. The Chaordic Path 14. Strategic  Visual Communication
7. The Fourfold Practice 15. World Cafe
8. Knowledge Mangement 16. Open Space Technology


No. Tool Short description Further info/Related readings, links and formats

Art of Hosting and Harvesting

(Mental Model)

HOSTING – is about creating learning spaces and making room for open and meaningful conversation that leads to commitment and good results. HARVESTING - is a way to support the individual and collective meaning making in a form that can be feeded forward. Link:

Core Learning Capabilities

(Mental Model)

In the 1990’s Peter Senge developed the concept of ‘A Learning Organisation’ building on core learning capabilties:1) Systems Thinking (Dealing with complexity)2) Reflective Conversation (Collaborating across boundaries with ease).3) Aspiration (Moving from problem solving to creating). Book: Peter Senge: The Fifth Discipline’, 1990.

The Cynefin Framework

(Mental Model)

Developed by the Welsh researcher Dave Snowden, the "Cynefin framework" distinguishes five domains of reality that a given system may represent; the framework classifies the systems by their state of complexity and order, and offers advice on what strategy to adopt to impact each. Article, Harvard Business Review: A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making


Five Organising Paradigms

(Mental Model)

Over the millennia, human beings have developed many different ways of organising together. How can we understand our way of organising better, and consciously make use of the various organisational forms, while working and learning?  

Mechanistic and Living Systems

(Mental Model)

How we perceive organisations also determines how we act in them. How can we more consciously work with both mechanistic and ‘living sytems’ way of viewing our organisations? We need to learn how to lead and participate in both contexts, embrace both worldviews and know what is needed when.  

The Chaordic Path

(Mental Model)

To lead our organisation on the chaordic path – where we are in e learning mode - we need “chaordic confidence”, to have the courage to stay in the zone of order and chaos long enough to support a generative emergence that can lead to learning and innovation. Article: 'The Chaordic Stepping Stones', Chris Corrigan.

The Fourfold Practice

(Mental Model)

Being truly present, engaging skillfully in conversations, being a good host of learning conversations, and engaging with others in co-creation are all skills that are easily understood but take continuous practice to hone. Article: ‘Four Fold Practice’, Mary Alice Arthur.

Knowledge Mangement

(Mental Model)

In order to create organisational learning we need to anchor learning in individuals, in groups and in the systems and tool in the organisation. Get inspiration on how to work on a ‘personalised’ level as well as a ‘socialised’ and a ‘codified’ level of knowledge management in your organisation. Article: ‘Strategisk videnledelse’, Bo Eriksen.

Action Learning Partnership Approach


Action Learning partnership approach is a collaborative approach/method of how to plan project-based learning. The approach encourages improvements of existing practices rather larger systemic changes. Article: ‘Action Learning Consulting - Strategisk proceskonsultation i teori og praksis’, Thorkil Molly-Søholm.

Circle Practice


Circle is a way of talking in groups where intention and listening is favoured. It is a way of ensuring engagement and that everyone is present and heard in a meeting.  Circle can be used as a means for “checking in” and “checking out” or a way of making decisions together, particularly decisions based on consensus.

Book: ‘The Circle Way – a leader in every chair’ by Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea, 1992

Article: Circle Basic Guidelines


Appreciative inquiry


Appreciative Inquiry is a strategy for intentional change that identifies the best of ‘what is’ and try to learn from that as well as dreams and possibilities of ‘what could be’. It is a mindset – and a model for analysis, decision-making and the creation of strategic learning and change, particularly within organisations.

Article: ‘A Positive Revolution in Change: Appreciative Inquiry’, David L. Cooperrider and Diana Whitney.

Book: Cooperrider, D.L. & Whitney, D (2001) A positive revolution in change. In Cooperrider et all., (eds.) Appreciative Inquiry: An Emerging Direction for Organization Development


Collective Story Harvesting


Sharing stories enables us to deeply connect with and learn from the experience in our community, team or organisation. By doing this in a structured way we build our capacity for targeted listening and group learning, as well as harvesting the collective learning, insights and meaning-making that can be applied in our future work. Article: ‘Collective story Harvesting’Mary Alice Arthur.

Powerful Questions


In a culture obsessed with answers, the art of asking powerful questions is highly under-rated. Questions open important doors to dialogue and discovery; they are an invitation to creativity and breakthrough thinking. Questions can lead to movement and action on key issues; by generating creative insights, they can ignite change. Article: ‘Powerful Questions’, Eric E.Vogt, Juanita Brown & David Isaacs.

Strategic  Visual Communication


Strategic Visual Communication (or Graphic Facilitation) is an approach for making information, knowledge and learning visible. It uses a combination of powerful questions to invite dialogue and exploration, structured listening to distill information, simple drawing techniques to make it visible. Examples: SOL Flow of programme, Harvesting poster Day 1, Harvesting Poster Day 2, Harvesting Poster Day 3

World Café


World Café is about creating meaningful and effective conversations leading to learning that can be feeded forward. It is a powerful ‘social technology’ for engaging people in CONVERSATIONS THAT MATTER. It make use of the metaphor of a café. As we create our lives, our organisations, and our communities, we are, in effect, moving among ‘table conversations’ at the World Café. Link:

Open Space Technology


Open Space is about establishing a burning platform for bringing onboard the issues and knowledge in a forward looking manner. The goal of an Open Space meeting is to create time and space for people to engage deeply and creatively around issues of concern to them. The agenda is set by people with the power and desire to see it through, and typically Open Space meetings can lead to transformative experiences for the individuals and groups involved.

Book: Open Space Technology: A User's Guide", by Harrison Owen.

Guide: Open Space


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