EMPAC research featured at World Police Summit

Professor John Coxhead has been asked to speak at the World Police Summit, at the World Trade Centre, Dubai, in March 2023, on how adaptive learning can help boost entrepreneurial policing.

You don’t need to go to Dubai though to hear all about adaptive learning. Here is a whirlwind tour.

What is Adaptive Learning?

Adaptive learning is about learning to improve based on experience and honest reflection. That means getting better at what you do, faster.

There are many research enquiries that inform learning, here are just a few:- 

Psychological Safety (Edmonson, 2018); Iterative Bayesian Science (McGrayne, 2011); Learning Taxonomies (Bloom, 1956); Reflection (Dewey, 1933; Schon, 1983; Gibbs, 1988); Collaborative advantage (Skinner, 2018); Critical Thinking ((Brookfield,1997); Action Learning (Butler & Leach, 2011); Group think (Sunstein and Hastie, 2014); Heutagogy (Hase & Kenyon, 2000); Systems thinking (Seddon, 2005); Ideation and Canvassing within Business Model Generation (Osterwald & Pigneur, 2010); 

Various research and thinking over the years all add up to a rich tapestry that can be used within any format to boost more agile learning, based on experiential adaptation.

Rolfe (2001) helped many learners with the practical phrase ‘what, so what, now what?’. Adaptive learning is very much about the ‘so what’ bit. We all have experiences all the time and we all think in one way or another. Yet, we don’t always learn! Adaptive learning is not just about the recognition of a learning point (‘that didn’t go so well, I might try it differently next time’) but about the change from that learning.

Learning to change

To adapt is to change; to pivot. It’s a state beyond knowledge (although knowledge is part of the learning process) as it’s about changed behaviour (informed by the learning). Ever heard “you never seem to learn”? 

Just changing without any thinking means your instinctiveness might get lucky, but it might not. The balance of adaptive learning is to experience, reflect and act, in an agile fashion, refining behaviours towards enhanced performance; and repeat. 

Sounds straightforward? It is, but whilst many may be able to say the words, many simply don’t do it

This is not a theoretical exercise, quite the opposite. Ironically, in often some ‘action orientated cultures’ that operate on a seemingly theoretical basis in that they don’t actually change enough, fast enough.  

Adaptive learning is about change, informed by agile learning. Change means getting out of your comfort zone, because not changing actually puts you in the danger zone and that won’t help improve performance.

How does Adaptive Learning boost Entrepreneuriality?

Wherever you see the groundhog day of a culture not seeming to learning the lessons and carrying on doing what it did before and getting into a mess, yet again – that’s when you will be able to see where adaptive learning is needed. 

There is sometimes a notion of if we ‘stick to our guns’, doing our tried and tested ways (even though they may not work well) then we’ll be safe and free from criticism. That’s misguided and niaive.

In reality, if you are not learning as fast as you can, others are, and you are being left behind, as the world constantly spins. Status Quo paralysis, emotionally, comes from a sense of fear. Fear of ‘getting it wrong’; fear of blame and shame. The irony there is that by not learning to change you will be doing it wrong anyway, and it will only get worse the longer you leave it.

Choosing opportunity over fear

Whilst non-adaptive learning is sometimes driven by fear, adaptive learning is all about opportunity – that includes risk taking – in order to improve: that’s called enterprise. A way to describe the opposite of enterprise is stagnation

Adaptive learning is about a spirit of continual enterprise, informed by the learning, to seek the opportunity of improvement. That doesn’t mean adherence, compliance and competence. Those concepts are based on the presumption that things don’t change, and whilst compliance within systems has its place, it’s a universal truth that everything changes: hence the spirit of enterprise is part of adaptive learning and a vital mindset for both evolution as well as survival.

How can I get adaptive learning in my organisation?

EMPAC can offer you tailored support to enable adaptive learning in your context. Give us a ring on 07470 181050.




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