Re: STIA: About Interventions?? LO2982

Tobin Quereau (
Fri, 29 Sep 1995 08:50:50 -0500 (CDT)

Replying to LO2964 --

On Wed, 27 Sep 1995 wrote:

> Proposed Subject: Interventions: An LO Conundrum?
> At the 5th STIA Conference, a few of the concurrent session leaders
> used the word INTERVENTION. The context as I have come to
> understand this word is to ... design interventions FOR the team,
> impress it ONTO the team in order to shift them in some way. I am
> perplexed about how dependence on an outsider to show me the
> TRUE WAY of being and learning fits into creating a learning
> organization. If I don't have the curiosity to SEEK what the outsider
> offers, I am blind, deaf, and crank up my immune system in order to
> reject the nasty new disease.
> Is not the intervener shifting the burden for learning to themselves
> and away from the team?
> The only intervention I can understand so far is the type Argyris
> describes in _Knowledge for Action_. Helping people to reflect on
> how their own behavior hinders or aids learning sounds like
> attempting to pry open the mind for the possibilities of learning to
> start.

> It feels like I'm seeing about 10 per cent of the puzzle and that your
> replies will help me understand better ways for me to intervene. It IS
> my job in Dow. What are the views on this digest about
> What is meant by designing interventions? How do you avoid
> shifting the burden to the intervener? Or how do you avoid letting
> the outside intervener become the new organizational defensive
> routine? Have any of you actually videotaped your own behavior in
> designing or conducting interventions? If so, what did you learn?

I can understand your concern about the "outside expert" setting off an
"immune reaction" and increasing resistance. The term "intervention" in
the alcohol and drug abuse field actually takes that into account and
strives to activate the current system--family, work, friends, etc.--into
healthy behavior without emphasizing the role of the outsider any more
than is necessary. The term can be used, I think, in an appropriate way to
indicate that _any_ activity by "outsiders" is, in the beginnning at
least, an intervention which will have an affect on the system (though it
will eventually be included "in" the system if it persists). Like the
classic mobile example, if you pull on one part, the whole system reacts.
And it probably does help if we "design" our interventions with some
awareness and attention (and input from and with others).

So, while it is probably important for all of us to remember we are
"intervening" in a system whatever we do, it is helpful to do so in ways
that reduce the "dependency" and "outside (or "inside"!) authority"
aspects as quickly and thoroughly as we can. I agree with you that if our
goal is to empower or increase the learning of the whole system, we need
to make ourselves dispensible as part of the process. Plus, it frees us up
to learn from and play with another system tomorrow....

Your intervention in my thinking this through has been helpful,

Thanks and Have a Great Day!