William R. Noonan (2007) Discussing the Undiscussable: A Guide to Overcoming Defensive Routines in the Workplace Amazon.co.uk page Book website (first chapter is available free from the site).
This is the most accessible book on Argyris’ ideas if you’re interested in applying them personally. The book has many stories of the author failing to produce ‘open for learning’ behaviour which I’ve found very helpful.
Chris Argyris, Robert Putnam, and Diana McLain Smith (1985) Action Science: Concepts, Methods, and Skills for Research and Intervention.
As this book is out of print, it is available as a free PDF download. The second half is an excellent description of how to learn how to produce behaviour consistent with ‘Model II’.
Roger Martin (2003). The Responsibility Virus: How Control Freaks, Shrinking Violets-and the Rest of Us-Can Harness the Power of True Partnership
Here’s a good review of the book, and a free PDF – ‘Board Governance and The Responsibility Virus’ which covers some of the main points, including a good lay-person summary of the governing values of ‘Model I’ and ‘Model II’
Sue Clark & Mel Myers (2007). Managing Difficult Conversations at Work A practically focussed book with a very good description of the ‘open to learning’ (Model II) approach. It has annotated example conversations and is very useful if you’re wondering “What do ‘open to learning’/Model II conversations actually look like?”
- Chris Argyris: theories of action, double-loop learning and organizational learning A good introduction to a lot of Argyris’s theory
- Argyris and Schön’s theory on congruence and learning. Another introduction to Argyris and Schön
- Description of Model I and Modell II behaviour – (summarised from Argyris’ book “Overcoming Organizational Defenses”)
- An overview of Chris Argyris as a Management Thinker on the British Library website
Podcasts / Videos
- Chris Argyris “I-Traps, Leadership Culture” lecture from the University of New England on 27 Mar 2008. Watch the iTunesU podcast. The question section at the end is simply electric. There’s also a transcript of the talk available.
- Diana McLain Smith has a podcast “How Great Teams Turn Conflict into Strength” from Stanford Social Innovation Review 23 Sep 2008. Diana was a student of Argyris who wrote the book “Divide of Conquer” she mentions Argyris and his focus on defensive routines in this lecture.
General Blogs on Argyris
- Doing Things Right vs. Doing the Right Things Useful description of the difference between single- and double-loop learning
- My own post on Can Agile overcome Organisational Defences to achieve Double Loop Learning?
Blogs on Argyris and Systems Thinking
- Dennis Steven’s provides some background on Argyris and Double Loop learning as a possible explanation for the purported benefits of using kanban boards in software development teams
- Interesting overlay of the Deming/Shewart PDCA loop onto Double-Loop Learning
Resources on the Left Hand Right Hand Column Case Study Format
- William R Noonan’s Guidelines for writing a Left Hand Right Hand Column Case Study
- Action Design’s Case Study Guidelines
- The Society for Organizational Change (based around Senge’s 5th Discipline) has some useful tools on topics such as The Left-Hand Column as well as The Ladder of Inference and Balancing Advocacy and Enquiry
The Ladder of Inference
- “Creating Practical Knowledge for Managing Interprofessional Health Care Teams: The Promise of Critical Realism and the Theory of Action” a PhD thesis by Dr Timothy Rogers, examined by Chris Argyris. It’s a heavy read, but has the best overview of criticisms of Argyris’ approach I have read. The transcripts of his intervention work are also very interesting, especially the section where he learns from mistaken assumptions he held about the client.