Balancing advocacy & inquiry LO13171

Bill Harris (
Thu, 10 Apr 97 11:37:46 PDT

Replying to LO13154 --

Bill Hendry wrote:

>I have been introducing the skills of advocacy and inquiry into workshops
>on communication, conflict and mentoring with great success. The material

>Has anyone else had success with this material in similar or other

Me, too! I "managed" a group of some 7 or 8 people for the last few
years, and there were some communications issues when I started. I leaned
heavily on action science, and I think it worked quite well. I read
everything I could find by Argyris, including a number of his books (the
fieldbook only came out after I was well down this path) and every article
I could find.

My impressions of this are:

It's pretty hard stuff to get into. I recognized part-way through the
first book that there was something good here, but I must have been
through about the third book, devouring transcripts of his
interventions, before I really began to catch on to what it was and how
to apply it.

It requires constant attention from all involved. It's mentally
tiring. In fact, I consider this among some of the hardest (and most
rewarding) work I've done.

The ethics part was among the hardest to understand and to apply: how
do you get people to change to Model II behavior without coercing them
at some point along the way "for their own good." Having gotten
part-way there (Argyris seems to claim that making Model II behavior
second nature may take 5-10 years, as I understand him), I can vouch
for the importance of that approach.

It can be brutal. There's often little "nice person" stuff in this
approach. In fact, others who would observe us in action would
routinely get astonished looks on their faces and comment on the
apparent lack of respect in the way the people in the group treated me.
However, we all had bonded really well as a team by that point, and we
generally mutually solicited that clarity of communication that
sometimes is perceived as the antithesis of politeness. The benefit
was that we were able to capitalize on the knowledge in all of the
people on the team, and we didn't let the manager (me) become the
bottleneck because he had to be right or he had to make the decisions
or ....

Good luck!


Bill Harris                             Hewlett-Packard Co. 
R&D Engineering Processes               Lake Stevens Division 
domain:               M/S 330
phone: (206) 335-2200                   8600 Soper Hill Road
fax: (206) 335-2828                     Everett, WA 98205-1298 

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