July 2, 2007

The test-and-learn model of change

Herminia Ibarra explains in her book Working Identity that the conventional way of thinking about career change corresponds with the plan-and-implement model. This model says that you first have to analyse and reflect in order to be able to develop a clear picture of what you want to achieve and only then you can take steps to realize this picture. However, Ibarra’s research shows that effective career change follows a different pattern, one which is described by the so-called test-and-learn model. This model is based on the idea that learning is a circular and iterative process. “We take actions, one step at a time, and respond to the consequences of those actions such that an intelligible pattern eventually starts to form”. On page 34 of her book she explains this by the following table:

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