This article of 2000 deepens Argyris’ notion of theory-in-use by recourse to empirical findings of the developmental sciences. It defines “consulting” based on this deeper notion. The article teaches a lesson still not learned in consulting: that theory-in-use has to do with levels of mental growth, both cognitively and social-emotionally, cutting through all “competence models”.
Consulting is redefined as the interactive design of interventions that take the level of mental growth of organization members and of their culture into account, equally in start-ups. Theory-in-use itself [what people actually do in organizations] is seen as comprising both a structural [social-emotional] aspect, referred to as individuals’ level of evolving self, and a procedural [cognitive] aspect, represented by individuals’ level of complexity handling. Their integration and unity demystifies “consciousness” as well as “leadership”. In the process, the Developmental Structure/Process Tool (DSPT) – since 2005 referred to as CDF, Constructive Developmental Framework — is introduced as an instrument of evidence-based consulting and coaching. CPJ #2, 2000.