Why Peer-to-Peer Learning creates a sustainable impact on your organization's Learning Culture

Inspiration from scholars in the field

Ensemble Enabler is continually exploring new approaches to capture the wisdom of the crowd to support strategic initiatives, foster creativity and encourage innovation. Our experience has demonstrated that a key factor in this process is the intentional use of dialogue and conversation. A broad spectrum of scholars have explored the conceptual underpinnings which make Peer-to-Peer learning an effective process. We would like to share a compact selection of authors who have informed our thinking on the value and impact of its use in organizations:

Lifelong Learning through conversations

Coaching Ourselves© is a process for peer coaching for organizational performance. Its serves as a fundamental source of inspiration for Ensemble Enabler’s work to encourage collective learning in the workplace. Henry Mintzberg is a renowned author on topics of management and business strategy and professor at McGill University (Montreal, Canada). Through his teaching, he observed the need for conversational learning between his students. As a result, he co-founded Coaching Ourselves© with Phil LeNir to offer peer-based management education in the workplace. A broad spectrum of over 100 modules on business topics makes the expertise of top business experts accessible to employees of all levels of an organization. Ensemble Enabler is a certified partner of Coaching Ourselves©.

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Numbers Matter! An ideal size for large group discussions

Dunbar’s number – 150 – emerged out of his work as an evolutionary anthropologist reflecting upon the nature of social cohesion in communities through the use of language. According to Robin Dunbar, this number refers to the “cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships”. This research indicates that the number of individuals who participate in specific kinds of dialogue matters for the quality of their mutual exchange. As a result, the size of our small format Peer-to-Peer Learning modules and the ideal number of participants of our participatory large scale dialogues have been inspired by Dunbar’s research. 

(Robert Dunbar “Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language“ Faber & Faber 2011)

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The use of dialogue to foster personal insights and inspire group insights plays a central role in the conceptual approach of all Ensemble Enabler’s work.

The key to optimal communication is dialogue

The foundation for Ensemble Enabler’s understanding of dialogue is the thinking of the scientist David Bohm. He introduced the concept of dialogue as a “free flow of meaning between people in communication“. A group collectively explores the process of “thinking together” through conversations. Individuals are encouraged to deeply listen and concentrate on the meaning of statements which are made by others in the group. Individuals begin to build on the ideas of individuals through these conversations. The result is the creation of shared meaning among them. This process of collective meaning making is fostered during the intimate format of a Peer-to-Peer Learning module as well as a large scale participatory dialogue. 

 (David Bohm „Thought as a System” Routledge 1994)

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The process of "mutual dialogues"

Hubert Herman’s Dialogical Self Theory views the “professional and personal lives as two sides of the same coin”. Dialogue with oneself on a individual level combined with dialogue among a group fosters both understanding and emergent mutual creativity. On the individual level, a diversity of personal issues is explored via what Herman calls internal personal “mutual dialogues”. In the professional and/or social setting, individuals become part of and engage with their social environment. Peer-to-Peer Learning modules encourage dialogues on both personal and professional levels, enabling the participants to mutually discover new approaches and solutions.

(Hubert Hermans and Agnieszka Hermans-Konopka "Dialogical Self Theory" Cambridge University Press 2010)

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The power of the sustainable impact of dialogue lies in the collective meaning making of its participants.

In his work, Viktor Frankl explores how people make sense of the influences, relationships and sources of information in their personal realm. Dialogue provides a process to enable individuals to act upon and experience meaning-making in their lives and work. These conversations serve as catalysts to actively stimulate the creation of new meaning. Individuals encounter new perspectives during the dialogue process and begin to integrate this novel information with their current understanding. This meaning making serves to encourage collective problem-solving and/or the development of innovative approaches. 

(Viktor Frankl “Man’s Search for Meaning” Beacon Press 2006)


Peer-2-Peer Learning

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collective intelligence

Through processes such as Peer-to-Peer Learning, Community Learning, Leadership Sprints, C-Suite Mentoring, Team Coaching, Thematic Large Scale Events, Learning Journeys, Cluster Communication and Pinboards, Ensemble Enabler supports organizations to gather insights and act upon ideas along their learning journey.

To discover more about the potential of the use of Peer-to-Peer Learning for your organization click here

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