Tag Archives: Argyris

Chris Agryris: “On Organizational Learning” .. up next at #orgdna

Examining ideas of OD thought leaders is a vital thread for the #orgdna community. Some of our best discussions resolve around ideas of the masters like Peter Senge and Margaret Wheatley. Most recently, we checked in with the thinking of Peter Block.

One takeaway: it’s usually not the theory that eludes us, but the application.

It’s time to check-in on the ideas of Chris Argyris, a powerful force of the 1980’s and 1990’s, whose timeless ideas about organizational learning still offer insight today. His seminal On Organizational Learning first appeared in 1992.

We’ll use the following discussion outline for our chat.

  • Q1. Argyris was among first to cast light on dysfunctional orgs. What did we learn?
  • Q2. For Argyris, Double Loop Learning is to adjust our learning approach when we see gaps. Has this theory worked in practice? 
  • Q3. How might adaptive, Double Loop Learning be applied in today’s org?
  • Q4. What did Argyris teach us about the viability of learning culture? What gaps must we tackle?
  • Q5. What did Chris Argyris achieve that others had not?

I already feel this discussion will be valuable. As OD students and practitioners, if we can figure out how to move the needle on the status quo, our chat may prove a good example of double loop learning in practice.

I hope you’ll join us Monday 3/20 at 9pm EDT. It’s always lively. Just join the conversation on Twitter with hashtag #orgdna. We recommend a streaming app like TweetDeck.

The rest is up to you. See you online.

Chris (aka @sourcepov)


Cultures of Fear. Is ‘Old School’ still in session?

Staring up the Corporate Ladder. With much at stake, do we dare take a step?

STARING UP THE CORPORATE LADDER. With much at stake, do we dare take a step? Original art by Robert Winkler 2012.

CHARLOTTE, NC. September 2013, by

Seems risk is everywhere in the world these days, and the work place is no exception.  Not long ago we could count on the corporate world to provide a secure income and career track. Today we so often find ourselves vulnerable, unsure of our next steps, with our professional future uncertain.

SEPTEMBER FRAME

I just picked up a copy of Smart Tribes by Christine Comaford, the NYT best seller that does a great job of focusing on this topic anew. She relates traditional views of leadership to ‘old school’ management styles that are based on fear: “Perform, or we’ll remove your ability to pay your mortgage ..” (p.16).

At some time or another, we’ve all witnessed situations where fear has been a factor at work.

To me, the question is how do we escape the destructive gravity of these situations, especially when there is so often critical mass pulling everyone down. Misery, they say, loves company.  Comaford offers solutions that track well with Goleman’s Primal Leadership as well as CollabDNA .. namely .. creating emotional connections, and working to influence the culture.

Let’s frame some questions that might help us on this path:

  • Q1. What are the org dynamics or management styles that make fear possible?
  • Q2. What is the difference between ‘commitment’ and ‘compliance’?
  • Q3. When is the notion of ‘accountability’ effective? Is it sometimes misused?
  • Q4. Can you describe actions, behaviors and challenges of leaders you’ve seen who were actively working to dimantle fear-infused culture?

Thanks as always for your time, insights and energy. See you at the chat, the week of 9/16. Watch for timing.

AUGUST FRAME

As I recently turned the pages of Susan Jeffers’ classic “Feel the Fear, and Do It Anyway” I found both comfort and common sense in the logic of “pushing through.” But in the work context, it seems the risks can so quickly outweigh the benefits. Do we dare raise radical new ideas? Think outside the safety of conventional wisdom?

Can we dare to be different?

Thanks to Scott Smith for his comment in July in the post of leaders who resist change. It caught my attention, and inspired this post.

In our Monday 8/12 edition of #CDNA, let’s ask a few questions about fear in the organizational context, to see if we might bring some new light to a area so often shrouded in the dark inner reaches of corporate politics:

Q1. Argyris (1980) spoke of fear as the unspeakable; has this changed, or is still prevalent?
Q2. Jeffers (1987) spoke of the need to “unlearn negative programming” .. is it safe for us to proceed when others around/above us have not?
Q3. Which is the more difficult fear to unlearn: survival? not knowing? or not fitting in?
Q4. As a leader, what is the first step in elminating fear in the workplace?

The 2nd week of each month at 8pm or 9pm ET, the #CDNA crew seeks to bring open minds to our ongoing conversation on organization change.

Sure, we’ll try to tap industry knowledge and the wisdom of sages along the way. But we favor a common sense approach. Challenging “what we think we know” and suspending our favorite paradigms is, almost always, the first step to new thinking.

Looking forward to seeing you at #CDNA.

Chris aka @sourcepov