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Chris Argyris

Presumably, not least because of his experiences as a consultant, Chris Argyris has occupied himself intensively with why organisations do ‘not’ learn. He called such structures ‘defensive routines’. His descriptions of such patterns and his ideas for dealing with these have influenced a whole generation of organisational consultants.

Where we differ from him is in the evaluation of the phenomenon: Defensive routines in the sense of maintaining the existing and legitimising the current practice is ‘one’ legitimate way of dealing with the past (see guiding process ‘Handling the Past’). Learning the new (=saying goodbye to the old) is the ‘other’ way. Argyris has researched and conceptualised what competences are needed for this, how organisations, teams and people can stand in the way, and how this happens, unconsciously or implicitly. Therefore, his considerations about the different forms of learning and reflection are particularly meaningful for us.