Vertical Developmental is about Cognitive Growth measured before and after the growth program. Gables Consultancy has developed this programme in order to walk under graduate students through a prescribed route to Vertical Development.
It gives an idea of not only what, but how one grows in their thinking within a business/managerial context. True development is about transforming the operating system itself, not just increasing your fund of knowledge or your behavioural repertoire.
The premise behind the programme is that your students are already embarking on horizontal development in their university course. This programme exposes them to three different stages of thinking, three ways of looking at a specific problem from three distinct levels of Cognitive Complexity. This is very different from their undergrad course process.
We spend six days differentiating content from structure, and between meaning and performance, as it’s not about competence, but capability.
If you normally resolve issues by only taking into account the content, you will go round in circles and not actually resolve the problem: you will only address the symptoms.
We need to look at thinking structure. So by the end of day one, you will be able to differentiate between horizontal and vertical development, and recognise the importance of the Levels of Adult Development in a university/learning context. We look at the aspects of thinking that determine a result at three different levels of complexity, whilst at the same time scaffolding the growth of the students to see the actual increase in complexity, so they “get it”. We look at language, beliefs, hidden patterns of behaviour, and our world view in the context of our cultural upbringing in order to develop higher order solutions to the problem presented in the programme.
What Your Students Get
A route to genuine development, to the qualitative expansions of mind that significantly increase human capability at work.
On this programme, a student will become more aware of their own thinking and how it is currently limited in the context of work. It is important to go through our beliefs of what is “truth”, including the understanding that all knowledge is uncertain and constructed, questioning not only the information, but the information-giver.
One Way To Do It
This means helping the students to question HOW we know what we know about our education, how this applies to our future capacity, and how we can influence it given our current understanding of thinking complexity.
One way we think is in the following four thought-forms [Laske], and by probing into their specific importance, we can explore how we make sense of our reality in a different way:
Context: What is the bigger picture in which this perspective is embedded or what is the bigger picture it fails to see?
Process: What are the emerging changes that this perspective takes into account or that it ignores?
Relationship: What is the environment in which the perspective is unfolding and how does it affect the perspective? Is there a disconnect not being considered?
Transformation: What use does this perspective make of the potential of all systems, or what emerging potential has been over-looked?
Developing Complexity is a Process Over Time
From a student perspective, Vertical Development is a process over time not simply because it’s difficult to grasp, but also because they are already learning at a horizontal level and it might take longer to integrate this new thinking into their existing thinking set. The programme would benefit from a group development day at the beginning of each month, followed by an individual development day in the middle of each month to cement the vertical development, as well as prep them for the next session.
Here is an example of the differences between the different levels of thinking. We won’t explore this specifically, but it will help the undergrads to grasp the concept.
An engineer is given a truck with a broken gearbox:
At level two, the engineer sees that a straightforward repair would fix the “problem” right away.
At level three, the engineer suspects that the gearbox was broken as a result of the way the driver operated it, and considers how future drivers could be instructed to use the gearbox in a more gentle way.
At level four, the engineer considers the problem lies in the design and manufacturing process of the gearbox.
At level five, the engineer might see the problem as the use of trucks for freight transit in general and question whether the work that the truck performs could be done in an entirely different way.
Each engineer is convinced that his way of viewing the problem is the most appropriate!
The answers these questions will raise will not always be clear, hence why you need to have a guided conversation over time. Each student should be given the chance to consider the greater ramifications of their question set from a complexity perspective, and this means reinforcement over time.
If you are interested in growing your under graduate students in their ability to think more complexly, get in touch today.