Action Science 1


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  • Welcome, hi I’m Craig and I am introducing Action Science. It is a strategy of organisational development defined and vigorously advanced primarily by Dr. Chris Argyris. He also worked with Donald Schon and others.
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  • The barrier most organisations face however is that people, and particularly the people in key leadership positions do not know how to learn. The primary reason is because that they define learning as problem solving. They fail to reflect internally on their own behaviour and understand how it contributes to the organisation’s problems. (Sostrin, 2008) identifies the right type of learning will directly evolve business leaders mind set and elevate their capacity to learn and perform.
  • Drucker (management of self) posits that to make yourself a better leader, your most valuable asset is to know how to manage yourself. He puts forward that the only way to know oneself is through feedback analysis.
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  • Action science is about finding new theories of actions. On the slide we see what theories of actions are all about.
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  • Action Science is about providing tools to shift from Model 1 which leads to defensiveness, mistrust, anti-learning and decreased effectiveness to model 2 which leads collaboration, trust, effective problem solving, decision making and increased long term effectiveness.
  • Argyris introduces models one and two through use of single loop and double loop learning. Single loop learning goes on within a persons given belief system. Double loop learning involves questioning ones own belief systems and assumptions. When single loop learning strategies go wrong highly skilled professionals become defensive and blame others. Effective double loop learning is not just about how people feel it is a reflection on how we think. That is professionals are focused on improving but are often the biggest obstacle because of their framework of thought. Managers focused on external organisational factors (single loop) were enthusiastic about change and growth but the moment the focus came on their performance (double loop) they became embarrassed and defensive and learning shuts down.
  • The purpose of these values is to avoid embarrassment. According Ryan and Oestreich fear in the work place has a crippling effect on an organisations effectiveness and ability to improve. Employees believe that not saying what they think is often an important compromise for being a team player.(D.Oestreich, 1998) Based on these values there is an incredibly high fear of failure – any negative feedback can lead to a ‘doom zoom’ (Argyris, 1991)p. 104 When met with a situation they cannot handle they suddenly fall apart. In this situation defensive reasoning becomes cyclic. Feedback to an individual intended toward learning and growth actually has the opposite effect. This can be most evident during performance management when instead of taking feedback on board people are inclined to blame external factors.
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  • Personal dialogue is a way to analyse our behaviour and the behaviour of others. It is a great tool to use in focus groups and is something that Argyris developed.
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  • Case studies are a great way to discuss problems in a safe atmosphere. By creating a safe atmosphere greater understanding of causes of the problems and how they can be overcome.
  • I work for Fairfax Community Network, we launched Mannigham Weekly. The launch led to financial loss, poor sales, staff turnover and low morale. First stage was to blame implementation process and middle management. A case study and 360º review including clients revealed senior management had launched the wrong product! A new gloss magazine was launched 12 months later taking on all feedback resulted in quickest revenue growth on record. All stakeholders learnt and grew from the experience.
  • Design Action says many teams in business have been together two or more years. If you’ve met regularly for that long, and have not taken the time to reflect on your results and your competence as a team, then you are probably perpetuating errors. The most critical constraint isn’t time, but the willingness, as a group, to talk openly and candidly about your experiences.
  • Action Science 1

    1. 1. Action Science <ul><li>Helping to build better working relationships at work </li></ul>
    2. 2. Aims <ul><li>Removing barriers of change caused by defensive interpersonal and organisational relations thus reducing ineffectiveness </li></ul><ul><li>Improving problem-solving skills and making incremental changes to external environment, but not exclusively </li></ul><ul><li>Primarily focusing on looking inward, learning new frameworks and establishing new routines </li></ul>
    3. 4. New Ways of Working Organisations can reverse the cycle and can be taught to understand the difference between their espoused and actual theories of action. ‘ They can face up to the fact that they unconsciously design and implement actions.’ Argyris
    4. 5. <ul><li>Leaders do not know how to learn </li></ul><ul><li>Leaders fail to reflect on own behaviour </li></ul><ul><li>Single Loop vs Double Loop </li></ul><ul><li>Espoused theory vs Theory-in-use </li></ul>Some barriers to learning:
    5. 6. Theories of action are: These are: the master programs, patterns, designs, sets of rules, or propositions that people use to design and carry out their actions. the governing variables, values, theories beliefs, concepts, rules, attitudes, routines, policies, practices, norms or skills that underlie actions. Action Science looks at Theories of Actions
    6. 7. Theories of Action help us to develop skills of inquiry and reflection
    7. 8. Theories of Action Moving Model 1 to Model 11 reduces ineffectiveness in resolving difficult problems Theory-in-Use Model 1 Governing Variables 1. Define goals to achieve unilaterally 2. Maximise winning, minimise losing 3. Minimise expressing or generating negative 4. Be rational and minimize emotionality Theory-in-Use Model 11 Governing Variables 1. Maximize valid information 2. Have free and informed choice for all concerned 3. Have high internal commitment to the choice and constant monitoring of its implementation
    8. 9. Single Loop vs Double Loop Single loop - a very defensive chicken not prepared to look at how it contributed to the problem Single loop - not your fault, not my fault Double loop - the monkey at least challenged its own process
    9. 10. Espoused Theory vs Theory-in-Use <ul><li>Argyris posits that most theories in use rest on the same set of governing values: </li></ul><ul><li>To remain in unilateral control </li></ul><ul><li>To maximise ‘winning’ and minimise ‘losing’ </li></ul><ul><li>To suppress negative feelings </li></ul><ul><li>To be as rational as possible by defining clear objectives and evaluating their behaviour in terms of whether they achieved them </li></ul>
    10. 11. Tools to implement change
    11. 12. Change Starts at the Top Ryan and Oestreich agree with Argyris: Behaviour change must start with self awareness by senior management. image of a mountain here
    12. 13. Productive Reasoning Analysis of actions must be data driven as seen in theory-in-use model 2 <ul><li>Theory-in-Use Model 11 </li></ul><ul><li>Governing Variables </li></ul><ul><li>Maximize valid information </li></ul><ul><li>Have free and informed choice for all concerned </li></ul><ul><li>Have high internal commitment to the choice and constant monitoring of its implementation </li></ul>
    13. 14. Data comes from Personal Dialogue For more information see How to write a case for personal dialogue, 2 columns. 1. The challenge or theme illustrated by this episode 2. Brief statement of context 3.What actually happened 4. Results from this conversation that I would want to change: 5.Questions I would like to address when we discuss this case: My thoughts & feelings What we said
    14. 15. A simple approach to learn technique: Connect learning with real life experience
    15. 16. Write a Live Case Study <ul><li>Include all the possible outcomes </li></ul><ul><li>Allow participants to discuss the case study </li></ul><ul><li>Reason a way through it </li></ul><ul><li>Apply back to themselves in a safe atmosphere </li></ul><ul><li>Productive reasoning and self analysis lead to personal and organisational effectiveness </li></ul><ul><li>Real causes of problems can be addressed and overcome </li></ul>
    16. 17. Let share with you one of my experiences.
    17. 18. Please look visit Relevant Work Experiences on website for more examples.
    18. 19. Action Design Reflection Time Will &
    19. 20. References: Arygris,C. (1991) Teaching Smart people how to learn , Harvard Business Review , 69 (3) , 99-109. D. Oestreich, K. R. A. (1998) Driving Fear out of the Workplace - Creating the High Trust, High Performance Organisation, San Franciso, Jossey-Bass Inc. Deem, J. (2009), The relationship of organizational culture to Balanced Scorecard effectiveness , Dissertations & Theses: Full Text. Sostrin, J. (2008) Establishing and validating a conceptual framework of barriers to workplace learning and performance: A Q-method study. Dissertations & Theses. Action Science, < >, viewed on August 12, 2009.