This section contains articles and book reviews written by Mark during the time (1992 - 1999) when he was developing his ideas on Solutions Focus as an approach relevant to business, organisational and management. You will find a wide range of material here - all published in print at some point.
A prog-rock opera or a three-chord gem?
Lessons from Complexity Theory, APEC Economic Outlook Symposium Xiamen, China, 16 - 17 May 1998.
Philosophers since recorded time began have been struggling with the concept of "reality" and whether it exists, either in objective form or indeed anywhere outside the thinker's thoughts. William of Occam lived from 1290 to 1349, a period when philosophy was dominated by the Scholastics, whose aim was to integrate knowledge derived from human reason with the understanding granted by divine (Christian) revelation. His lasting contribution to philosophical thought is the principle that "it is vain to do with more what can be done with fewer" - in other words, one should cut away assumptions as if with a razor (hence Occam's Razor) and strive for simplicity.
Complexity - a word to send shivers up the spine of the hard-pressed manager. Is the world a complex place? You bet it is. Not at all like the case studies in books, or in your MBA programme. So much to take in, and so little time to decide what to do.....Thoughts like this surely enter many heads at various times. Is there insight just around the corner?
Presented at International Alliance for Learning conference,
The technical training team at BNFL Magnox Generation provides essential initial and revision training for staff working at our nuclear power station in the United Kingdom. This paper outlines how accelerated learning techniques have been successfully applied to a series of complex technical training course, and the results achieved. Benefits obtained include shorter programmes (by an average of 38%) and consequent cost savings (over $1,100 per person per course), similar or better assessment results based on the same criteria and reduced course drop-outs. Additional benefits observed by the team include better learning retention and improved learner attitude towards future training.
SEAL Journal, Summer 98 pp 34 - 35
Scientists in unconscious learning breakthrough shock horror probe.... Amongst the latest publications, "The Handbook of Implicit Learning" (Stadler & French, 1997) caught my eye. Described as "a readable, rigorous overview of one of the most exciting domains in contemporary cognitive psychology; the role of non-conscious processes in thought, affect and behaviour.", I was intrigued to find out what the academic psychology community is now investigating.
Organisations and People, 1, No 1, pp 16 - 20 (1994)
"Learning", both by individuals and in organisations, is proving to be one of the key business topics of the 1990s. There is currently a lot of writing about the idea of the learning organisation, and about how good it will be when we have them. It seems safe to work with the assumption that people in organisations can learn, and that the organisation can therefore change. But what kinds of activity will actually be going on in a learning organisation? How might we make concrete steps towards this goal? I seek to put forward a useful framework to help understanding of the many processes which may go on in a learning organisation, and their relative purposes. This framework is based on Bateson's 'logical levels' of learning.
in Learning Company Conference 1994: Collected Papers
This paper addresses the differences between first-level learning (change within a framework) and second-level learning (change to the framework itself) in organisations. Examples of both types are given. The use of systems thinking is considered in relation to organisational learning, and the impact of system complexity on the ways we examine and use systems concepts is discussed. Complex systems behaviour is non-deterministic, and therefore obtaining feedback from the system in action is the most feasible way of working with it. Guidelines for second level learning based on acting systemically, rather than thinking systemically, are given.
All these book reviews have appeared in print too.
"Business Applications of NLP: 30 Activities for Training"
"NLP in 21 Days - A complete introduction and training programme"
"Impro Learning" by Paul Z Jackson
"Escape From Babel - Towards a Unifying Language for Psychotherapy Practice"
"Solution States" by Sid Jacobsen
"Grow to be great"
"The Excellent Trainer: Putting NLP to work" by Di Kamp
"Smart Work" by Lisa J Marshall and Lucy D Freedman
"Managing the Multinational" by Samuel Humes
"Creative Compartments: A Design for Future Organisation" by Gerard Fairtlough
"The Right Brain Manager" by Dr Harry Alder
"International Review of Strategic Management" Volume 4, ed D E Hussey
"NLP at Work" by Sue Knight
"The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R Covey
"The Enneagram And NLP: A Journey of Evolution" by Anné Linden and Murray Spalding
Scoring with Music
Between 2004 and 2006 Mark wrote a series of articles about using music in learning and training for Teaching Expertise magazine. Download these articles here:
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