Shankar Sankaran and Bob Dick discuss AR and Australian Management Problem Solving

Speaking with Bob Dick and Shankar Sankaran from Australia. Bob Dick is known as a master of clarity on all things action research, not least because he reads everything written on the topic! Shankar Sankaran met Bob as an entrepreneurial manager and PhD Student who found value in the Action Research approach. Shankar now teaches systems thinking and action research at the University of Technology Sydney and reminds us of the value of Soft Systems research, by Checkland, also a practice of action research and the synergy with today’s design thinking.  Importantly Shankar extends Bob’s emphasis on rigor in his current work with a global team of action researchers who are examining hundreds of AR projects to determine what impact really means. We end our 30 minutes interview with acknowledging the value of action research at the time when Futures research has us expect more VUCA environments – (volatile, uncertain, chaotic, ambiguous).  Bob reminds us that a pretty good description of action research is that it is a trial and error method that includes collaboration of those who can implement.  He cautions us not forget the importance of looking for disconfirmation so that our trials and errors lead us toward more robust/useful as well as rigorous actions.  Thanks Bob and Shankar!

Read more about Bob’s ideas for problem solving here (Bob_IJAR).

Read a paper by both describing how action research can be used as a flexible approach to the collaborative project management of a research project. (2015 PMJ)

Read a paper by Shankar about managing organizational change with soft systems thinking in AR projects. (2009 IJPM)