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?
Rapport 38, p40 (1997)
Lessons from Complexity Theory, APEC Economic Outlook Symposium Xiamen, China, 16 - 17 May 1998.
What do a freeway traffic jam, stock market fluctuations, a tractor accident and the layout of characters on a typewriter keyboard have in common? Answer: they are all examples of, or results from, "complex systems". Mark McKergow examines the remifications of complexity for economic and social systems, with particular regard to ideas of 'control' and 'cause'. This paper was was presented on Mark's behalf by Mr. Dan Ciuriak in his capacity as representative of the Chair of the Economic Committee, APEC.
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.
NLP World 3, No 3, pp 47 - 56 (1996)
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?
Long Range Planning 29, pp 721 - 727 (1996)
Presented at International Alliance for Learning conference,
Atlanta, Georgia USA, 14 Jan 2000.
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
(eds G Welshman, T Boydell, J Burgoyne and M Pedler), pp 146 - 153 (1994)
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"
by Roy Johnson and John Eaton,
NLP World 6, No 3 pp 82 - 84 (1999)
"NLP in 21 Days - A complete introduction and training programme"
by Harry Alder and Beryl Heather
NLP World 6, No 3 pp 81 - 82 (1999)
by Sue Knight - Nicholas Brealey Publishing
NLP World Vol 6 No 2 pp 81 - 82 (1999)
"Impro Learning" by Paul Z Jackson
NLP World 5, No 3 pp 71 - 72 (1998)
"Escape From Babel - Towards a Unifying Language for Psychotherapy Practice"
by Scott D Miller, Barry L Duncan and Mark A Hubble
NLP World 5, No 2 pp 63 - 65 (1998)
"Solution States" by Sid Jacobsen
"Anatomy of Errors" by Alex Howard
NLP World 4, No 3, pp 73 - 75 (1997)
"Grow to be great"
by Dwight L Gertz and Joao P A Baptista
Long Range Planning 30, pp 137 - 138 (1997)
"The Excellent Trainer: Putting NLP to work" by Di Kamp
"Successful communication through NLP: A Trainer's Guide" by Sally Dimmick
"Inspirational Training" by Ron Cartey
NLP World 4, No 2, pp 75 - 77(1997)
"Smart Work" by Lisa J Marshall and Lucy D Freedman
NLP World 3, No 1, pp 64 - 66 (1996)
"Managing the Multinational" by Samuel Humes
Long Range Planning 29, pp 425 - 427 (1996)
"Creative Compartments: A Design for Future Organisation" by Gerard Fairtlough
Long Range Planning, 28, No 1, pp 119 - 120 (1995)
"The Right Brain Manager" by Dr Harry Alder
Long Range Planning, 28, No 3, pp 109 - 110 (1995)
"International Review of Strategic Management" Volume 4, ed D E Hussey
Long Range Planning, 28, No 5, pp 116 - 117 (1995)
"NLP at Work" by Sue Knight
NLP World, 2, No 2, pp 83 - 85 (1995)
"The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R Covey
NLP World, 1, No 2, pp 59 - 62 (1994)
"The Enneagram And NLP: A Journey of Evolution" by Anné Linden and Murray Spalding
NLP World, 1, No 3, pp 69 - 71 (1994)
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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150 days ago