Thought Leadership Overview

Many of the ideas, models and methodologies offered in our leadership curriculum represent the culmination of thirty years of investigation, cross-model dialogue, and rigorous research and application by the communities of practice surrounding Harvard University, Harvard Law School and the MIT Organizational Learning Laboratory. The thought leaders who serve as our Senior Experts are pioneers in their fields, in many cases the seminal theorists who created or deepened these bodies of work. Mobius is proud to have assembled them here as a seamless whole, an offering we make as we think about the legacy of this work and ensuring that there is a next generation equipped and qualified to continue to serve as effective intervenors to top teams and counselors to organizations seeking to learn, change and contribute.

Roger Fisher Roger Fisher
William Ury William Ury
Erica Ariel Fox Erica Ariel Fox
Jamil Mahuad Jamil Mahuad
Scott Peppet Scott Peppet
Michael Moffitt Michael Moffitt
Linda Netsch Linda Netsch
Alan Price Alan Price

Our Negotiation programs are based on the work of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, founded by Roger Fisher over thirty years ago. Roger, and his colleagues William Ury and Bruce Patton, wrote the landmark book Getting to Yes, introducing into the business discourse the idea of “win-win” or principled negotiation. A group of books have elaborated on these ideas including those by Mobius Senior Experts Scott Peppet (Beyond Winning), Michael Moffitt, (Handbook of Dispute Resolution), and Erica Ariel Fox, (Winning from Within: A Breakthrough Method for Leading, Living and Lasting Change). Our Senior Negotiation Faculty members serve as Lecturers at Harvard, Stanford, Columbia and Pepperdine Law Schools as well as the University of Colorado and University of Washington Law Schools.

Roger, William and Bruce enjoyed close dialogue over the years with the other thought leaders mentioned here including, but not limited to, those affiliated with the Family Institute of Cambridge, Adult Development Theory, Action Science and Organizational Learning. We are also honored to have their colleague Jamil Mahuad, former President of Ecuador and Visiting Lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, serving as a Mobius Senior Expert, supporting our clients as a specialist in both negotiation and leadership. Linda Netsch has served as the Director of our Negotiation Services since our inception in 2005. Our senior faculty includes, but is not limited to, Alan Price, Kathy Holub, Michael Dickstein, Gillien Todd, Scott Peppet, Michael Moffitt, Lee Jay Berman.

Chris Argyris Chris Argyris
Donald Schön Donald Schön
Diana McLain Smith Diana McLain Smith
Bob Putnam Bob Putnam
Philip McArthur Philip McArthur
Dianne Argyris Dianne Argyris

Much of this work begins with the theory of action approach developed by Chris Argyris and Donald Schön. Its premise is that human beings design action to achieve results they intend. Acting skillfully shows know-how or tacit knowledge that we can represent as a theory of action. To learn, in this view, is to become able to produce the learning in action. This leads to distinguishing espoused theories, or theories of action that we believe we follow, from the theories-in-use that would be inferred from our actual behavior. We are aware of our espoused theories, but often unaware of our theories-in-use. The two are frequently inconsistent, notably in situations that trigger embarrassment or threat. We seem to be socialized in a particular theory-in-use, called ‘model I’ or the ‘unilateral control model,’ that comes out in these situations. Model I leads to low trust, low commitment, and limited learning. Chris and Don described an alternative theory-in-use, model II, for mutual learning on issues of fundamental importance. Developing competence in model II enables people to learn in the midst of difficult circumstances and to act as agents of organizational learning.

Chris and Don published Organizational Learning in 1978, more than a decade before the idea of learning organizations became popular. Mobius Senior Experts Bob Putnam, Phil McArthur and Diana McLain Smith of Action Design, and Dianne Argyris were doctoral students at Harvard and Teaching Fellows with Chris Argyris. In 1985 Chris, Bob and Diana co-authored Action Science. Action Science is a form of inquiry into how we design action and how we might create better organizations. It is concerned with practical knowledge for the conduct of human affairs. It proceeds by helping people reflect on and improve social practices that shape inquiry, choice, and action. Erica Ariel Fox, Mobius Co-Founder and President, is a protégée of Diana McLain Smith and Bill Isaacs, having studied organizational intervention while consulting alongside each of them.

David Kantor David Kantor
Terry Real Terry Real
Michael Stadter Michael Stadter
Michael Robbins Michael Robbins
John Carter John Carter
Veronica Hopper Carter Veronica Hopper Carter
Cliff Barry Cliff Barry
Shari Marbois Shari Marbois

The work with Chris Argyris and his colleagues was in the practice tradition of organizational development, action research, and laboratory education. Many of us also bring backgrounds in counseling and social change. In this domain, the most important ongoing influence on our practice has been our work with Mobius Senior Expert David Kantor.

David Kantor is a family systems therapist and theorist. He has been a founding principal in each of the family therapy institutes in the Boston area over the past three decades including, most recently, The Kantor Institute. In the course of this work he has created a theory for developing one’s model of practice as an interventionist. A model of practice in Kantor’s view consists of three parts: a theory of the thing, for example families or organizations; a theory of how the thing changes; and a theory of how one intervenes. The pioneers in Action Science have done model-building work with David going back to the 80’s. The second area in which Kantor has been a major influence is in understanding relationship structures and how one’s personal structure enters into important relationships. David also helped create the Interpersonal Skills Exercise for the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School and has been a key dialogue partner for the emergence of systems thinking over the last twenty years.

Mobius facilitators and trainers also consult and study with other clinical theorists including Mobius Senior Experts Terry Real and David Gage as well as systems theorist Michael Robbins and Dr. Michael Stadter, a psychologist working with trauma and conflict in relationships. Their knowledge of relationship challenges, stages of group development, trauma and recovery, and processes for the healing of the human psyche and heart inform our transformational approaches to leadership development.

We have also been studying Gestalt Organization & Systems Development theory concept and method over many years with John Carter and Veronica Hopper Carter, and more recently, Shadow Work with Cliff Barry and Shari Marbois to round out our development in this domain.

Robert Kegan Robert Kegan
Lisa Lahey Lisa Lahey
Bill Torbert Bill Torbert

A third influence on our work is developmental theory, especially as represented by Bill Torbert and Mobius Senior Experts Robert Kegan, and Lisa Lahey. In the tradition of Jean Piaget, Robert describes stages in the ways human beings construct meaning and the relationship of Self and other. His is a theory of practice for educators and counselors who help people making developmental transitions, for leaders of educational organizations, and for adult development. Bill Torbert has adapted Robert’s thinking to a theory of organizational development. Bill, who studied with Chris Argyris at Yale in the 1960’s, is a prolific writer and a coiner of apt phrases for this work. He was the first to use the term “action science” (1976) and now speaks of his way of working in this domain as action inquiry or developmental action inquiry.

Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey are the authors of several books including Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization and How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work: Seven Languages for Transformation.

Peter Senge Peter Senge
Ed Schein Ed Schein
Amy Edmondson Amy Edmondson
Ronald Heifetz Ronald Heifetz
Robert Hanig Robert Hanig
Alexander Grashow Alexander Grashow

In the late 1980’s Peter Senge co-hosted a group of faculty and doctoral students from MIT and Harvard in an informal seminar on organizational learning, with special focus on how Action Science and systems dynamics might contribute to each other. Attending faculty and students included: Chris Argyris, Donald Schön, David Kantor, Edgar Schein, John Sterman, and Alan Graham, along with Bill Isaacs and Mobius Senior Experts Amy Edmondson, Bob Putnam, and Diana McLain Smith. Peter was writing what would become The Fifth Discipline. In that book he drew on the work represented by Chris for the basis of the discipline of mental models and part of the discipline of team learning. The other strand in Peter’s view of team learning was David Bohm’s idea of dialogue, which Isaacs has taken a lead in developing. Our friend Robert Hanig has worked extensively over the last twenty years with Peter Senge and contributed to The Dance of Change, published by Doubleday with Peter. Robert Hanig is also a former member of the governing council of the Society for Organizational Learning and was a partner, along with Erica Ariel Fox and Bill Isaacs at Dialogos for many years. Amy Edmondson, Mobius Senior Expert, serves as the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School and most recently authored her own book Teaming.

Ron Heifetz at the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government, along with his colleagues Marty Linsky and Mobius Senior Expert Alexander Grashow, introduced seminal theory on organizational change dynamics, team dynamics and the critical distinction between “technical” and “adaptive” leadership. Much of Mobius curriculum aims to help senior leaders learn to effectively respond to emerging adaptive challenges requiring flexible thinking, learning agility, and the ability to manage ambiguity and volatility. Key books have included The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing your Organization and Leadership, and earlier works including Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of Leading and Leadership Without Easy Answers.

Numerous offerings in our leadership curriculum stem from, or are informed by, the intellectual lineage described herein. Our faculty is comprised, in part, of direct collaborators of Action Science, process consultation, and systems thinking revolutionaries. These models developed artful ways for helping people to work together, make decisions together, and lead collectively in innovative ways. All of these Mobius Senior Experts and their collaborators have spent a good portion of the last three decades helping to iterate, disseminate, test and refine these ideas, and share them with public and private sector leaders throughout the world. We are honored to have them as mentors, colleagues, and teachers.

We cross-pollinate these ideas with practices and teachings from more ancient sources of wisdom including the worlds of scripture, philosophy, and ethics, as well as more recent domains such as neurobiology, neuroscience, psychology, and sociology. Our experiential work includes emerging technology such as mindfulness, movement, psychodrama, active imagination, voice dialogue, constellations, martial arts, yoga, music, and group dialogue processes.