Micro-Observation and Action Science with Dianne Argyris


One of the key tenets of Action Science is that the more you can observe the client in their every- day interactions, the more able you will be to aid your client’s development.



In Action Science parlance, the more Directly Observable Data you have, the better equipped you are to coach. This tenet creates a bit of a dilemma. While having lots of data allows a coach to build a set of deep hypotheses about their client and his world, it is rarely if ever possible – or desirable – to present reams of data to busy executives. So you have to choose wisely in order to find small but very rich examples that are most likely to further learning. Ideally, you choose instances that help the client recognize critical patterns of behavior and thought that they wish to strengthen or change. In the language of Action Science, these are called Defensive Routines. To select and formulate this kind of data is to engage in the process of “micro-observation.” This teleclass will present several case examples of micro-observation that demonstrate (1) how to select high impact directly observable data, (2) how to analyze that data, using tech-niques like the Ladder of Inference and (3) how to discuss that data with your client in a way that best supports double-loop learning. Dianne Argyris is President of Argyris Consulting, a practice she began in l998, after heading the Training and Development organization at Lotus Development. Dianne works with organi- zational leaders at all levels to help them develop and implement strategies for cultural and personal change. Dianne has been engaged with these issues from an early age, as her father, Chris Argyris, is a founder of the field of Organizational Behavior and a lifelong mentor. Dianne’s 20 years of internal and external experience in organizations, combined with her academic depth in qualitative research and psychology, make her a highly skilled organization diagnostician, though she is most often described by her clients as eminently practical and solution-oriented.

Dianne works primarily with small to mid-sized businesses, non-profit boards and agencies. She has spent significant time in the telecommunications, software and pharmaceutical indus- tries. She has served on the faculty of the AT&T High Potential Executive Education Program and the Columbia General Management Executive Education Program. She is a frequent peer reviewer for Harvard Business School Press and is a trustee of Smith Leadership Academy Char- ter School and the North Suffolk Mental Health Association. Dianne has an M.A./Ed.D in Human Development from the Harvard School of Education and a B.A. in Psychology from Connecticut College.

Extract from The Conversations with Masters Series.


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