Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Shifts: Doing action research in your own organization

One of the very significant shifts in recent decades has been the willingness to embrace experience in knowing. In contrast to “I think therefore I am,” has been the pursuit of “We experience, therefore we grow.”

This has huge implications for being human, for being Christian, for education. This serves to introduce a new book I will be blog reviewing: Doing Action Research in Your Own Organization. It is the type of book that frames and names much about the new missional masters we’re piloting in 2011.

Action research is defined as “an approach to research which aims at both taking action and creating knowledge or theory about that action.” (ix) It is interested not only in individual head knowledge, but in actions and knowledge.

It assumes a spiral approach to life and learning, in which planning leads to action which leads to reflection which leads to planning … and so on. It assumes collaboration, in that what is being studied are themselves active in the study process. It assumes we are all insiders of many systems. This brings us knowledge and the invitation to action.

The desire to be involved in or to lead radical change involves high hassle and high vulnerability, realistic expectations, tolerance, humility, self-giving, self-containment and an ability to learn. Insider action research is an exciting, demanding and invigorating prospect that contributes considerably to researchers’ own learning and contributes to the development of the systems in which we work and live and with which we have affiliations. (xi)

Which surely is what much Christian research and education should be about? (Hence the missional masters, in which leaders use their own context as a place for learning and growth. And this is deemed a place which deserves post-graduate “action-research”.) It should invite us to change, it should expect our churches and our communities to grow and change!

This of course raises a complex range of issues, which the book seeks to explore and about which I will blog in coming weeks.

I would place Doing Action Research in Your Own Organization as a key text alongside Developing Change Leaders: The principles and practices of change leadership development which I have been summarising on this blog throughout the year. Put them both together and you have a framework for growing and developing your leadership within your own context and communities, in a way that can advance academic rigour.

Posted by steve at 09:00 AM