Theory of Practice: January 2013

By Steve Zuieback · Posted Monday, January 7, 2013

What is a Theory of Practice?

It is essential that every leader has a conscious Theory of Practice. A Theory of Practice is a set of beliefs, principles and practices that have been developed from a long history of experiences that have informed the leader about what works and what doesn't work. Click here for a quick video review.

Most People Have a Subconscious Theory of Practice

Most, if not all people already operate from a set of values, beliefs and past practices, but they may not be conscious of these underlying filters that guide their decisions and behaviors.  For some people this works just fine. For many others, they wonder why their actions and decisions work sometimes but not always. Being conscious of your filters allows you to make much more conscious decisions that actually fit the external circumstances. This allows you to be much more effective as a leader, consultant or facilitator.

What Are Some of the Primary Components of My Theory of Practice?

My theory of practice has been greatly shaped by key systems models such as:

  1. Williams Bridges Change Model
  2. The Six Circle Model - Below the Green Line (Wheatley, Dalmau and Knowles)
  3. The Process Enneagram (Knowles and Dalmau)

My practice has also been shaped by certain key principles such as:

  1. Utilize crisis as an opportunity for change.
  2. Build on existing pockets of success within an organization.
  3. Mobilize the "early adopters" in a system.
  4. Create a sense of possiblity by finding examples of people who have already been successful.
  5. Continually create connections inside and outside a system.
  6. Systematically abandon programs that can't demonstrate top results.

And finally, my practice also employes proven communication and planning processes such as:

  • The Process Enneagram
  • Mental Models (Chris Argyris and Donald Schon)
  • Micro Skills (Michael Grinder and other Neurolingustic Practitioners) 

Much more information about Theory of Practice can be found in my book, Leadership Practices for Challenging Times: Principles, Skills and Processes that Work

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