Unilateral Control (model 1)

The theory-in-use that almost all of us use to design our behavior in situations that are psychologically threatening or potentially embarrassing. As a result, we create many unintended negative consequences.


Mutual Learning (model 2)

The theory-in-use that enables you and the groups you work with to become more effective, particularly under difficult conditions. Unintended consequences, including defensive behavior, are reduced.


download argyris-mutual-learning.pdf

Theory-in-use is the theory you actually employ to design and act out your behavior. It operates quickly, skillfully and effortlessly, outside of your awareness. Espoused theory is what you say you do.

Core values of the Mutual Learning model

Valid information: You share all information relevant to an issue, including your assumptions, your reasoning behind your conclusions, and your feelings about how the issue is being addressed. You give specific examples so others can clearly understand what you mean and determine for themselves if the information is accurate.

Free and informed choice: You can define your own objectives and the methods for achieving them. (You are not being coerced, manipulated or acting out of defensiveness). Your choice is based on valid information.

Internal commitment: You feel personally responsible for the choice you make; the decision is intrinsically compelling or satisfying, not because you are rewarded or penalized for making that choice. You take ownership for implementing the decision.

Compassion: You temporarily suspend judgment towards others and yourself. You have empathy for others and for yourself while holding yourself and others accountable for action rather than unilaterally protecting others or yourself.

Version by Roger Schwarz & Associates, based on the work of Chris Argyris and Donald Schön (1974); Action Design (1997)