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Model I Lurking in Model I is the core assumption that an organization is a dangerous place where you have to look out for yourself or someone else may do you in. This assumption leads individuals to follow a predictable set of steps in their attempts to in”uence others. We can see the progression in the exchanges between Harry and Anne:

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1. Assume that the problem is caused by the other side. Harry seems to think that Mark and Anne cause his problems; Mark is insulting, and Anne protects him. Anne, for her part, blames Harry for being biased, unreasonable, and devious. Both are employing a basic assumption at the core ofModel I: “I’mokay, you’re not.” So long as problems are someone else’s fault, the other, not you, needs to change.

2. Develop a private, unilateral diagnosis and solution. Harry de!nes the problem and tells Anne how to solve it: !re Mark. When she declines, he apparently develops another, sneakier strategy: covertly undermine Anne.

3. Since the other person is the cause of the problem, get that person to change. Use one or more of three basic strategies: (1) facts, logic, and rational persuasion (tell others why you’re right); (2) indirect in”uence (ease in, ask leading questions, manipulate the other person); or (3) direct critique (tell the other person directly what they are doing wrong and how they should change). Harry starts out logically, moves quickly to direct critique, and, if Steve’s diagnosis is correct, !nally resorts to subterfuge and sabotage.

4. If the other person resists or becomes defensive, that con!rms that the other person is at fault. Anne’s refusal to !re Mark presumably veri!es Harry’s perception of her as an ineffective troublemaker. Harry con!rms Anne’s perception that he’s unreasonable by stubbornly insisting that !ring is the only suf!cient punishment for Mark.

5. Respond to resistance through some combination of intensifying pressure and protecting or rejecting the other person. When Anne resists, Harry intensi!es the pressure. Anne tries to soothe him without !ring Mark. Harry apparently concludes that Anne is impossible to deal with and that the best tactic is sabotage. He may even believe his rumor is true because, in his mind, it’s the best explanation of why Anne got promoted.

6. If your efforts are less successful than hoped, it is the other person’s fault. You need feel no personal responsibility. Harry does not succeed in getting rid of Mark or Anne. He stains Anne’s reputation but damages his own in the process. Everyone is hurt. But Harry is unlikely to see the error of his ways. The incident may con!rm to Harry’s colleagues that he is temperamental and devious. Such perceptions will probably block Harry’s promotion to a more senior position. But Harry may persist in believing that

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he is right and Anne is wrong, because no one wants to confront someone as defensive and cranky as Harry.

The result of Model I assumptions is minimal learning, strained relationships, and deterioration in decision making. Organizations that rely too much on this model are rarely happy places to work.

Model II How else can a situation like Anne’s be handled? Argyris and Schön’s Model II offers basic guidelines:

1. Emphasize common goals and mutual in”uence. Even in a situation as dif!cult as Anne’s, developing shared goals is possible. Deep down, Anne and Harry both want to be successful. Neither bene!ts from mutual destruction. At times, each needs help and might learn and pro!t from the other. To emphasize common goals, Anne might ask Harry, “Do we really want an ongoing no-win battle? Wouldn’t we both be better off if we worked together to develop a better outcome?”

2. Communicate openly; publicly test assumptions and beliefs.Model II suggests that Anne talk directly to Harry and test her assumptions. She believes Harry deliberately started the rumor, but she is not certain. She suspects Harry will lie if she confronts him, another untested assumption. Anne might say, for example, “Harry, someone started a rumor about me and Steve. Do you know anything about how that story might have been started?” The question might seem dangerous or naive, but Model II suggests that Anne has little to lose and much to gain. Even if she does not get the truth, she lets Harry know she is aware of his game and is not afraid to call him on it.

3. Combine advocacy with inquiry. Advocacy includes statements that communicate what an individual actually thinks, knows, wants, or feels. Inquiry seeks to learn what others think, know, want, or feel. Exhibit 8.2 presents a simple model of the relationship between advocacy and inquiry.

Model II emphasizes integration of advocacy and inquiry. It asks managers to express openly what they think and feel and to actively seek understanding of others’ thoughts and feelings. Harry’s demand that Anne !re Mark combines high advocacy with low inquiry. He tells her what he wants while showing no interest in her point of view. Such behavior tends to be seen as assertive at best, dominating or arrogant at worst. Anne’s response is low in

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Exhibit 8.2. Advocacy and Inquiry.

both advocacy and inquiry. In her discomfort, she tries to get out of the meeting without making concessions. Harry might see her as unresponsive, apathetic, or weak.

Model II counsels Anne to combine advocacy and inquiry in an open dialogue. She can tell Harry what she thinks and feels while testing her assumptions and trying to learn from him. This is dif!cult to learn and practice. Openness carries risks, and it is hard to be effective when you are ambivalent, uncomfortable, or frightened. It gets easier as you become more con!dent that you can handle others’ honest responses. Anne’s ability to confront Harry depends a lot on her self-con!dence and interpersonal skills. Beliefs can be self-ful!lling. If you tell yourself that it’s too dangerous to be open and that you do not know how to deal with dif!cult people, you will probably be right. But tell yourself the opposite, and you may also be right.

The Perils of Self-Protection Whenmanagers feel vulnerable, they revert to self-defense. They skirt issues or attack others and escalate games of camou”age and deception (Argyris and Schön, 1978). Feeling inadequate, they try to hide their inadequacy. To avoid detection, they pile subterfuge on top of camou”age. This generates even more uncertainty and ambiguity and makes it dif!cult or impossible to detect errors. As a result, an organization often persists in following a course everyone privately thinks is a path to disaster. No one wants to be the one to speak the truth. Who wants to be the messenger bearing bad news?

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The result is often catastrophe, because critical information never reaches decision makers. You might think it dif!cult to ignore a major gap between what we’re doing and what we think we’re doing, but it’s not, because we get so much help from others. You can see this happening in the following conversation between Susan, a cubicle-dwelling supervisor in an insurance company, and one of her subordinates, Dale. Dale has been complaining that he’s underpaid and overquali!ed for his mail clerk job. As he regularly reminds everyone, he is a college graduate. Susan has summoned Dale to offer him a new position as an underwriting trainee.

What Susan is thinking: What Susan and Dale say:

I wonder if his education makes him feel that society owes him a living without any relationship to his abilities or productivity.

How can he be so opinionated when he doesn’t know anything about underwriting? How’s he going to come across to the people he’ll have to work with? The job requires judgment and willingness to listen.

That’s the !rst positive response I’ve heard.

We owe him a chance, but I doubt he’ll succeed. He’s got some basic problems.

Susan: We’re creating a new trainee position and want to offer it to you. The job will carry a salary increase, but let me tell you something about the job !rst.

Dale: Okay. But the salary increase has to be substantial so I can improve my standard of living. I can’t afford a car. I can’t even afford to go out on a date.

Susan: You’ll start as a trainee working with an experienced underwriter. It’s important work, because selecting the right risks is critical to our results. You’ll deal directly with our agents. How you handle them affects their willingness to place their business with us.

Dale: I’m highly educated. I can do anything I set my mind to. I could do the job of a supervisor right now. I don’t see how risk selection is that dif!cult.

Susan: Dale, we believe you’re highly intelligent. You’ll !

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