Organisational Metacognition: Learning how to learn

I received a notification recently reminding me it was exactly 2 years since I created my first Wikipedia Page Organisational Metacognition . A process in itself that made the academic peer review process look tame in its sheer ferocity!

One key element of ‘learning how to learn’ is awareness of ignorance. In experiments I undertook in Oil & Gas exploration organisations, I “hid” high value items in enterprise search indexes (which should have been found given the search task questions).

The sample was 26 experienced (10+ years) Information professionals supporting exploration using the familiar Company search tool.

Objective task performance was poor, only 36% of those key items were found but most staff were satisfied with their own performance (until they were shown what they had missed!).

When actual performance was fed back to staff and their management, learning events were evident. Information was being given that differed from their existing ‘mental models’ of how things were. Management in particular were ‘shocked’.

Increasing the possible search recall, reduced performance by half, evidencing the impact of information overload.

The study illustrated information search literacy issues amongst professionals – not just what search query terms to use – but when to stop searching and adapting to results accordingly.

When it comes to “information searching”, organisations are ignorant about a great many things – but are not necessarily fully aware. Constantly ‘sensing’ the environment with experiments may be a good way to improve the information system in organisations.

An open access link to the paper is here: Paper Link published in the top tier Journal of The Association for Information Science & Technology ( JASIST).


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