Marilyn Darling


Marilyn Darling


Marilyn Darling is a partner of Fourth Quadrant Partners, LLC and a founding member of the Society for Organizational Learning (SoL). She created the principles and tools of Emergent Learning to overcome the challenge she saw as organizations struggled to make the principles of Organizational Learning come to life in the context of people’s real work. Emergent Learning has become a widely used platform for strengthening the link between strategy and action and the capacity to use real-time learning to improve thinking and results. Marilyn’s client work focuses on social mission organizations, such as Ford and Open Society Foundations, and collaboratives, such as Living Cities, a collaborative of 22 of the largest foundations and financial institutions in the U.S. For more than 10 years, Marilyn conducted in-depth research into the learning and leadership practices of the U.S. Army’s Opposing Force (OPFOR). Their mission is to be the toughest enemy brigades of American soldiers will ever face. The OPFOR created the After Action Review (AAR), which has become a cornerstone of Emergent Learning. This research was described in a Harvard Business Review article, “Learning in the Thick of It,” July/Aug 2005.


Boston, MA, United States

What draws you to the STIA conference?

I have many fond memories of being involved in past STIA conferences. I am eager to discover what possibilities it might hold for the field going forward.

What are you hoping to experience?

I am eager to re-connect with my friends and colleagues in the field and to learn what questions they are exploring today and how those questions have evolved over time. What have we learned about organizational learning over the last decade and more?

What are you most passionate about?

I want to understand what challenges and opportunities and aspirations are present in the world we work in today, what tools we have available that were not available ten years ago, and how we can put all of that together to continue to expand our capacity to create the future to which we aspire.

How do you see transformation occurring from this conference?

As we "rub our stories together," we generate new questions.

What’s your bigger vision?

Human beings are capable of such profound learning individually. I aspire to see a world in which groups of people in organizations and collaborations and networks have that same profound capacity to learn collectively.

What needs to happen for you to evaluate this STIA+ experience as a success?

I have reconnected with my past and created seeds of new connections that will grow into my future.