19 Grounded theory (4)
Speaking only for myself ...
In the light of some of the accompanying discussion I thought it might be useful to describe one of the ways in which I develop theory from experience. I use a set of questions to help me prepare for action, and a further set to analyse, later, what happened.
[Some of this material emerged in conversation with Stephanie Chee, Alan Davies, Goh Moh Heng, Richard Kwok and Shankar Sankaran.]
The questions asked beforehand are:
1a What do I think are the salient features of this situation?
1b Why do I think those are the salient features?
2a Given that situation, what do I think are the desirable outcomes?
2b Why do I think those are the desirable outcomes?
3a What actions do I think will achieve those outcomes in that situation?
3b Why do I think those actions will achieve those outcomes in that situation?
It will be seen that these derive two "theories". One is defined by the "what" questions. It is in the form I've already discussed: In situation S, to achieve outcomes O(1), O(2), etc., try actions A(1), A(2), etc." It captures, in action form, my assumptions about the action to follow.
The "why" questions help me to make explicit the assumptions which underlie the "what" questions. The resultant "theory" may take a variety of forms.
Both "theories" are then tested in action. If the action achieves the desired outcomes, this provides some support for the "situation, outcomes, actions" theory, and for its underpinning assumptions. Any changes in actions or outcomes draw my attention to my incorrect assumptions.
In the critical reflection afterwards, these are an example of the questions which might be asked:
2a Were the outcomes achieved?
2b If so, now that I've got them, do I still want them?
2c Why / why not?
1a Was I mistaken about the situation?
1b If so, in what respect?
1c What led me to that mistake, and what have I learned from it?
2d Was I mistaken about the desirable outcomes?
2e If so, in what respect?
2f What led me to that mistake, and what have I learned from it?
3a Was I mistaken about the desirable actions?
3b If so, in what respect?
3c What led me to that mistake, and what have I learned from it?
3d Did I produce the actions?
3e If not, why not?
3f What have I learned from that (about the situation, about the desirable outcomes, about the desirable actions, about systems, about people, about myself ...?
Copyright Bob Dick 1998-2000. May be copied if it is not included in any
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