In and Out
Roger Greenaway, Reviewing
a zoomer in or
a zoomer out when you facilitate learning? If you feel that you zoom
both ways, do you know which is your preference or your dominant style?
Don't worry - I am not
about to offer you a questionnaire to help you discover your dominant
'zoom style'. That would be a little tricky because 'zooming in and
out' is really just a
flexible metaphor that can apply to many
different dimensions and
Here are some examples showing how
you can zoom in and out with questions:
IN AND OUT WITH
From real to what if
in > "What
exactly did you say?"
out < "If
you could replay the situation what would you say?"
From restricted to
in > "Can
you sum up what you want to say in 3 words."
out < "What
would you like to add that has not already been said?"
From essential to
in > "What
was the turning point?"
out < "What
else helped to produce a successful outcome?"
explanation to alternative explanations ...
in > "Why
did this happen?"
out < "Let's
take care not to jump to conclusions. Are other explanations
possible?" [The actual search for other explanations might
involve both zooming in and zooming out.]
perspective to someone else's perspective ...
in > "Why
did you behave in that way?"
out < "What
would x say if she had witnessed what you did?"
From this context to
very different contexts ....
in > "What
was the best example of good teamwork?"
out < "Would
this be seen as 'good teamwork' in all situations and cultures?"
From this system to
the wider system ...
in > "How
has greater efficiency been achieved?"
out < "What
will be the consequences for other parts of the system?"
From small picture
to big picture ...
in > "Did
you use your resources optimally?"
out < "What
other resources / people / stakeholders could you have brought in?"
From short term to
long term ...
in > "What
has been the impact of your efforts so far?"
out < "How
sustainable is this process?"
Zooming in and out is
not just about the nature of your questions. Tasks are another
up to index
OUT WITH TASKS
My world – our
world – their world ...
in > Make a
headline for this event that sums up what was most important for you
out < Make a
headline for this event that you would like to see in your
further out <<
Make a headline for this event for a big circulation news publication
of your choice.
From snapshot to
storyboard to video clip (of future expectations) ...
in > Choose
one picture (or photograph) to accompany the story of this event.
out < Choose
a series of pictures (or photographs) that tell the story of this
event (with no words or few words).
behaviour and zooming
'out' to the future: Create some short video
clips that demonstrate how you expect to apply your learning.
From capturing significant
learning to building into a future scenario
in > Produce
a group poem (or collection of phrases) that captures the essence of
some of your most significant learning.
out < Draw
an imaginary future team project working like a dream, adding in
captions, speech bubbles or thought bubbles that re-cycle (or adapt)
most of the words and phrases from the group poem.
From reflecting indoors to
in > Spend
time completing your reflective journal or talking with your learning
out < Make a
leisurely journey (walking or canoeing) with a learning buddy in a
relaxing and inspirational natural environment. For out and back
journeys, switch roles at the turning point, so that each person
takes it in turns to be the centre of attention.
up to index
The value of zooming
for facilitators, learners and transfer of learning
As you zoom in, new
details appear that were previously invisible, and as you zoom out,
the broader view reduces the visible detail but creates an
ever-widening context and panorama. Zooming out reveals the
system, zooming in reveals the microsystem.
Sometimes the patterns
discovered at the micro level are similar to patterns found at the
macro level. (Search for 'fractal images' for some beautiful
illustrations.) When we are shown photographs without any clues about
scale it can be difficult to work out whether we are looking at a
span of kilometres or a span of millimetres.
Whatever you current
focus, it is always worth considering whether to go large, go small
or stay much the same. You
are not looking for the perfect
you make permanent. This is because there is a value in
focus and making connections from one scale (or zoom setting) to
another. It is valuable for facilitators to be adept at changing
focus in a timely fashion. It is even more valuable for participants
to develop such skills.
Perhaps our hope as
facilitators of learning is that zooming in (such as detailed
personal feedback sessions) will reveal insights that allow
participants to zoom out and discover their broader relevance.
of learning often equates with 'zooming out'.
But sometimes the
initial experience is a mind-opening, horizon-broadening,
confidence-building, eye-widening, life-affirming,
whole-world-of-possibilities kind of experience. And transfer arises
from settling on a small achievable project through which to channel
these mind-expanding discoveries. So transfer of learning can
equate with zooming in on the next step to take.
Have you noticed how
film directors create suspense by zooming in on the detail such as
close-ups of the character who is vulnerable to attack, or on the
fresh footprint they have just spotted? Zooming out to wide angle
a sense of safety – scanning the horizon so that we can see more of
the surroundings from where threats may come. In darkness,
floodlights are more reassuring than the beam of a pencil torch -
which gives so little information to the vulnerable torch-bearer
while giving mission-critical information to the assailant. The
actual danger (or learning opportunity) can be near or far. The habit
of zooming in and out maximises opportunities for learning from
up to index
In and Zooming
Out: part two
Roger Greenaway, Reviewing
In part one of this
article I asked, "Are
you a 'zoomer in' or a 'zoomer out' when
you facilitate learning?" I then gave examples of how you
'zoom in' or 'zoom out' with questions and also with review tasks. And
in answer to the question 'Why Zoom?' I wrote:
current focus, it is always worth considering whether to go large, go
small or stay much the same. You are not looking for the perfect
focus that you make permanent. This is because there is a value in
changing focus and making connections from one scale (or zoom
setting) to another."
Part two shows how 'zooming' has
featured in some learning models that you may know::
followed by some practical examples:
some thoughts on zooming and the transfer of learning:
and some follow-up links and references for those who want to explore
You will now discover more
about why and how we
all benefit from the frequent use of a 'zoom lens' when our purpose is
learn from experience – or to help others to do so.
I'd first like to take
you on a whistle-stop tour of the different kinds of zooming I have
found in experiential learning models before getting to more
examples of practice.
ONE WAY ZOOMING
The 'Debriefing Funnel'
follows a classic 'zooming in' process. Experience is progressively
processed on its journey down through the filters in the narrowing
(Priest and Gass, 1997). The
six filters are:
recall and remember
affect and effect
Priest and Gass state that we
should not to be bound by a single view
of debriefing as the only way to guide reflection. They do not
themselves offer a 'zooming out' alternative to restore the balance,
but many others have done so ...
There are many different ways
which other models combine zooming in and out. Here are some
examples of learning models that zoom both ways:
Borton’s three questions:
‘What? So What? Now What?’ (Borton, 1970)
should first be asked in an analytical
mode that is "hard-driving, pointed, sharp, logical,
tough and rigorous"
and then in a contemplative mode "a more relaxed
approach which avoids picking at one’s self
and allows alternatives to suggest themselves through free
association and metaphor." Borton
would clearly appreciate the value of a zoom lens that moves both
ways – in then out.
Likewise, Kolb (1984) also
recognised the value of balancing zooming in and zooming out. Kolb
associates the experience and the initial reflection with divergent
thinking, and he associates the next two stages of his cycle
and experimentation) with
convergent thinking. Unlike
Borton's model, Kolb's cycle starts with zooming out and ends with
zooming in. But the
starting point may matter less than the rhythm (much the same as
breathing - so long as we maintain a patterm of breathing in and out it
doesn't really matter where we started).
Thiagi favours more frequent
switching from 'in' and 'out' - moving
questions within each stage of his debriefing sequence (Thiagarajan
Thiagarajan, 1999). Perhaps it is no accident that in the laid
back 1970s Borton
encouraged people to spend a whole cycle in one mode and then wander
around it again in a more open mode; in the faster-paced 1980s
Kolb squeezed both modes into a single cycle; then in the 1990s Thiagi
is zooming out and in several times within a single cycle.
tight l o
o s e
In contrast, back in
the 1950s people seemed to spend long periods in
one mode or the other. Kelly, known for his
Personal Construct Theory (Kelly, 1955) presents learning (and
as an alternation between tight and loose
construing. Extremely loose construing
associated with dreaming and poetry. Extremely tight
construing is associated with a fixed and unchanging view of the
world. Learning happens as a result of moving to and fro between
tight and loose
pattern was described by Lewin (1947). Writing about change at the
individual, group and organisational level, Lewin saw unfreezing as a
necessary precursor for change. This is followed by moving and
refreezing until another thaw becomes necessary. Lewin's theory
applies to longer time spans than those described above - so
it fits neatly into my little thesis about how, in learning theories,
the frequency of zooming increases from one decade to the
next. [Carl Rogers'
Freedom to Learn (1969) exudes the kind of patience that would fit with
the pace needed
for the 1960s, but I need your help to find a 'zoom' theory
of learning from this missing decade!]
brief tour of theories that have something to say (in their own terms)
about zooming in and out, we have seen an interesting variety:
- the need to zoom in and out
if we are to learn (Lewin; Kelly)
- a zooming in
cycle followed by a zooming
out cycle (Borton)
- zooming out
at the 'start' of the cycle and zooming in
to complete the cycle (Kolb)
- zooming out then in
at each stage of a debriefing cycle (Thiagi)
up to index
ZOOM SETTING WHEN?
Rather than wondering
which lens to reach for at the start of a review or trying to follow
a tidy fixed pattern, I'd recommend that (much like a professional
photographer) you are fully equipped with a range of lenses – ready
to respond to opportunities as they arise. This whistle-stop tour
strongly suggests to me that any and every stage of
potentially benefit from any zoom setting. To switch
metaphors for a
moment, that means that we can benefit from tapping into both 'left'
and 'right' brains throughout the learning process – because
learning involves both analytical and creative thinking.
The examples that
follow demonstrate the value of using a variable zoom lens
at any point in a
reflection/reviewing/debriefing process - whether for close-up
reviewing, wide angle reviewing or for reviewing both ways.
IN FOR CLOSE-UP REVIEWING
Being put on the
in at the start)
was demonstrating a 'Socratic' approach to reviewing. He asked us
each to write down one sentence about the team problem-solving
exercise which we had just been doing. We wrote in thick pen and
displayed our statements on the wall. My statement was "I
think I was trying harder than others". I was asked to
explain how I came to this conclusion. My assumptions, values and
reasoning were all put under the microscope. I soon wanted to rip down
statement and start all over again. Was it tough being put on the spot?
Yes! Had I learned about myself? Yes! Would I use the method? Yes!
Thank you Hans. Zooming in can be powerful.
Choosing a focus
in at the start)
Zooming in can be
valuable for other reasons. Sometimes it is a timesaver. A Danish IT
company uses the Horseshoe method (showing the full spectrum of views
on an issue) in order to save time at meetings. Quickly discovering
exactly where each person stands on an issue can save a lot of time.
A quick snapshot instantly reveals the spread of views and helps the
facilitator choose how best to approach each issue – which
generally involves some in-depth sampling at different points of the
in, in and in)
An apprentice did not
believe the positive feedback he was receiving from others. Unused to
hearing such complimentary words, he thought his mates were pulling
his leg. Eventually, in the third feedback session,
apprentice accepted the feedback as genuine. In the end, the detailed
evidence was incontrovertible and inescapable. It was a personal
Action replay of a
(starting wide and
A grumpy participant sat down in
the only dry part of the shelter that his group were building in the
pouring rain late at night. He demanded that
everyone else hurry up and finish so that he could get to sleep. Nobody
challenged him and it became the (unmentionable) elephant in
the room. The
opportunity for the individual to explain and apologise came in an
action replay review the next day. When he was sat down in his
'dry patch' (during the replay) he soon asked the group to
stop the replay and he did his best to level with
them. It was the start of a healing process and was a valued
source of learning for everyone involved.
appreciating) the causes
(zooming from big
picture to the details)
A staff team put on
their first ever conference. It was a big achievement and part of the
review focused on the factors (big and small) that had contributed to
the success and how these factors interconnected. The method used was
creating a 'success chart' on the floor which grew outwards from a
central statement describing the success. The main purpose of this
process was to highlight key features that they should keep and build
on next time they would run a conference or do a big project
together. An additional benefit was that everyone could clearly see,
acknowledge and appreciate each other person's part in creating the
up to index
OUT FOR WIDE-ANGLE REVIEWING
"Although reviewing sometimes
needs to be
about narrowing down,
separating out, and examining the detail, reviewing can also be used
for 'big picture' learning in which boundaries are blurred, bridges are
built, strands are woven together and the whole is more real than the
parts - because reviewing is about the wood as well as the trees."
This was the start of my article on Big Picture
Reviewing (Active Reviewing Tips 7.2). These are the five
picture' methods I described in that article (and so are not repeated
LINE: seeing time by walking through it
OUTSIDER: seeing the group through the eyes of an outsider
seeing issues from unfamiliar perspectives
IF: experiencing different perspectives
MAP: a fresh perspective on past and future
Edward de Bono's
In Six Thinking Hats,
each of the six coloured hats represents a different thinking style.
The Blue Hat represents meta thinking – taking an overview. It is
the odd one out because it is on a different level. It is of special
value to facilitators and leaders. It is useful to all learners.
Without blue hat thinking, it is difficult to take responsibility for
learning, because you see the learning process most clearly when you
wear the blue hat.
Some powerful learning
experiences have already been described in 'Examples of Zooming In'
(above). There are also many kinds of powerful learning experience
that deserve the 'zooming out' label. I asked 100 senior managers
about their experiences during an experience-based management
development programme as part of my PhD research. I asked them "What
experiences have had most impact on your learning and development?"
I heard a lot of stories that were about 'zooming out' and I was able
to sort these into these six categories::
Meeting new people,
doing new activities, experiencing a new learning culture.
Lots of things
interrelated, recognising patterns, seeing connections.
again, and feeling much better for it - refreshed, rekindled,
Synergy and Support
The delight of being
part of a successful team, and experiencing the sum being
than the parts.
Freedom to Learn
free-flowing learning climate in which there are few blocks or
barriers and in which creativity and risk-taking is supported.
Having an intense experience which is sufficiently vivid or stirring
to have a direct and lasting effect. The effect may change over time,
especially through further reviewing.
up to index
OF ZOOMING BOTH WAYS
Most active and
creative reviewing methods are designed to include both zooming in
and zooming out within the same technique. These examples are
illustrative - they are not full descriptions of the technique. [More
complete descriptions can be found at http://reviewing.co.uk
in > > >
Competition - for exploring a range of
perspectives on one topic
a picture (individually)
that captures something good about your team performance that
you would like to be continued in future projects.
hearing your partner's
explanation, try to add value to their picture by seeking
other ways in which the picture answers the original question.
- for exploring the range of views on
Where do you
Why are you not
further this way or that way?
cause you to move from your position – in either direction?
Are you curious
about anyone else's position?
- using a rope graph to trace a specific theme
The line itself
provides a focus. The story zooms in on whatever the line represents.
Each peak and
trough provides a focus, especially if the narrator is asked to say
what caused their peak or explain how they recovered from their trough.
||Sometimes the storyline is itself a zooming out
process because it
places single events in the context of the whole story.
If others in
the group are asked to show their storylines of the same
event, then each participant is zooming out to see things from another
- creating a new person who would be
welcome to join the team
what's missing involves some analysis (zooming in) ...
... but this is
in relation to a larger sense of what is possible - using holistic or
intuitive thinking (zooming out)
The details of
the person, their skills, their manner, their clothes and accessories
come from zooming in ...
... but when a detail connects to the
vision, people celebrate the
that connects the detail with the big picture.
to the Future - an audit of favourable factors that will
help to achieve a goal
a combination of both zooming in and out, especially when the form of
the question that generates the list asks people for details that
connect with the overall purpose: "What x do you already have that will
help you achieve your goal?"
Some of the
questions zoom in - looking inwards at skills, strengths, experience,
Some of the
questions zoom out - looking outwards at resources, connections,
|The journey represents the cumulative
combination of all the skills and qualities and connections and
|| The resulting growth in confidence and capacity
typical of this exercise is a kind of zooming out.
achieving the goal may feel like zooming in if the goal is specific ...
zooming out if the goal is broad and open-ended.
Finding the Bones
method helps to identify the essence of a story a person tells about
their experience of an activity. In pairs, one person gives a one or
two minute account that emphasises their feelings and experiences. The
listener helps the speaker to reduce the story to a few sentences, then
to one sentence, then to a phrase (or three words), then to a single
word. The sentence, phrase and word are recorded by the listener and
presented to the speaker. In new pairs, and in a new role (speakers are
now listeners and vice versa) the exercise is repeated. The process
ends with three
'rounds' in the whole group: single words, then phrases, then
Is this zooming in or out? - see next ...
AND THE TRANSFER OF LEARNING
chosen to spread 'Finding the Bones' across both columns because this
process zooms in and out simultaneously. At first
sight it looks like a 'zooming in' process because it gradually strips
story to a single word. But if the process is working well, it is the
short phrase or the single word at the end of the process that has the
greatest significance and
the widest potential application to other settings.
as it is that zooming in and out can happen simultaneously, it would be
misleading for me to suggest that the transfer of learning depends on
stripping stories down to bare bones (or funnelling experience into its
essences). There are many other ways in which the
transfer of learning happens. Sometimes, for example, the real power is
in the whole story. So there is a risk that reliance on a reductionist
transfer (exemplified by 'Finding the Bones') can leave the learner
with a limp and empty cliche of little lasting value.
This only serves to reinforce
the value of the habit of both zooming in and zooming out. By providing
an ever-changing focus, you are exposing participants to a range of
different zoom settings. This gives participants a wider choice of
transfer stategies: for
each story, each individual, each situation and
each goal it is important to help the learner find the zoom level that
will be of greatest
acclaimed novel 'A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich' achieved its
impact by zooming in on the details of one character's day in just
one grisly place. In 'War and Peace' Tolstoy gave himself a much
bigger canvas in space and time to write his masterpiece. Both
strategies can lead to profound insights and understanding.
AND USEFUL LINKS
Philosophy for Children
IN AND OUT
Borton, T. (1970: 89) Reach, Touch
Teach: Student Concerns and
Process Education. McGraw Hill.
Lewin and the Planned Approach to Change: A Re-appraisal"
of Management Studies 41 (6) 977–1002
De Bono, E. (1985) Six Thinking
Little, Brown and Company.
Fransella, F. (1997) George Kelly
Greenaway, R. (1995) PhD Thesis: Powerful
Management Learning and Development. British Library
Greenaway, R. (2004) "Big Picture
Reviewing: seeing the wood as
well as the trees". Active
Reviewing Tips 7.2
Greenaway, R. (2007) in Siberman, M. (Ed) The
Kelly, G.A. (1955) The Psychology
of Personal Constructs.
New York: Norton.
Kolb, D.A. (1984) Experiential
Learning: Experience as the
Source of Learning and Development. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall
Lewin, K. (1947) ‘Frontiers in group
dynamics’. In Cartwright,
D. (Ed.), Field Theory in Social Science. London:
Pohlmann, T. and Thomas, N.M. (2015) Relearning the Art of Asking Questions Harvard Business Review
Priest, S. and Gass, M. (1997:196) Effective
Adventure Programming. Human Kinetics.
Thiagarajan, S. & Thiagarajan, R.
(1999: 37-47) Facilitator's
Toolkit. Bloomington, Indiana: Workshops by Thiagi.