Action Inquiry

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Bill Torbert says this about human development:

Self-transformation toward fully and regularly enacting the values of integrity, mutuality and sustainability is a long, lifetime path that most of us follow as we grow toward adulthood, but that very few continue traveling intentionally once we become adults. Each major step along this path can be described as developing a new action-logic: an overall strategy that so thoroughly informs our experience that we cannot see it.

Our action-logic, then, is like the filter through which we view everything, but which we cannot see. Like water is to the fish, perhaps?

Torbert defines 7 main action-logics (there are some others, but so rare as to be hardly ever seen in the healthy adultĀ  population):

  • Opportunist
  • Diplomat
  • Expert
  • Achiever
  • Individualist
  • Strategist
  • Alchemist

In a good-sized sample of well-educated working adults in the USA, he found the following distribution:

Opportunist: 3%

Diplomat, Expert or Achiever: 90%

Individualist, Strategist or Alchemist: 7%

So most of the adults you encounter in your working environment are Diplomat, Expert or Achiever. We’ll explore each of these in more detail in other posts.

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