The AGS Experience

Comments and Testimonials

Adizes Graduate School students are your professional peers working in leadership positions to facilitate sustainable business and organizational development practices in many countries. Some students who have studied at Adizes Graduate School have, for example, held (or presently hold) senior positions with the CIA, Shell, Lockheed Martin, Deloitte, Gallup, The Croatian National Bank, Pacific Bell Information Systems, the U.S. Navy, the Saskatchewan Institute for Applied Research and Development, Frito Lay, Sony, and in consulting, manufacturing research, non-profits and elsewhere in government or industry.

Some students hold more than one Masters Degree and/or MBA.  Most are seeking insight and perspective that will assist them in their work and personal lives. They have experienced complexity and have ideas for managing change in organizational or societal contexts.

Sample Comments from course evaluations:

Adizes Leadership Tools for Managing Change: 

From my first reading of the Adizes texts I knew this was an important area of study and had the desire to get into the methods in detail. This course has enabled this and has greatly strengthened my understanding and application of the methods developed by Dr. Adizes.  I especially liked the close, one-to-one interaction with the instructor, having a highly qualified and capable instructor, and the opportunity to delve more deeply into the topic.  Prof. Dan Axelrod demonstrated tremendous understanding and skill in guiding me through the discussions. I have learned a great deal from him this term.

Corporate consulting is one of the key areas that I want to expand my business to and Adizes Methodology gave me a clear map on how to approach corporate clients and offer solutions that are suitable to them. This course also matches with my personal learning goals as I wanted to expand my expertise and knowledge into corporate consulting work for the year. During the course, I had an opportunity to be hired by a potential client and Prof. Axelrod gave me some thoughts, eventually I secured the contract and will start next week.

The course was in full sync with my personal expectations.I think the discussion followed by faculty response were the largest source of inspiration. Overall I really learned a lot, and found it much more interesting than I expected. The direction of the final paper made for some very interesting research and conclusions. This was not at all what I would have expected upon enrolling. Dan did a really nice job overall, and answering posts displayed thought and concern. 

Epistemology:

Learning is much easier than unlearning. The latter requires a lot of insight on how learning takes place and I think that this class offered a lot of it. Knowing how to know is as important as knowing that there are things that will never be known. The definition of the limits of knowledge is clearly important in all contexts. One should know that there are limits in knowledge so that other means for searching the truth be developed. The subject itself was very interesting, the books and the readings were very relevant, the faculty was very responsive and inspiring and the insights of the classmates were intriguing.

Overall the learning experience was greater than expected. The comments from students and Dr. LaRue made the difference. The importance of knowledge at this depth was not familiar to me, and the introduction to the concept of wisdom was particularly helpful to put knowledge in perspective. I used the synthesis to create an outline for a proposal I will use at work.

The philosophical nature of the course was most satisfying. We engaged in a wide variety of topics that always challenged me to expand my perspective and really grapple with complexity. Reading the posts of my colleagues was very educational as they were all experienced professionals. Dr. LaRue really charged the learning environment with Ph.D. level discussion about organizational epistemology. This experience really gave me an opportunity to think more broadly and systematically about organizations. During this course, I was completing an internship dealing with information systems that was much more fulfilling having this course as my backdrop. It also allowed me to uncover my passion in action learning, knowledge creation, and a topic that I have a passion for and has yet to be explored deeply: organizational wisdom cultivation.

The ability to engage in various aspects and applications of corporate knowledge and knowing across a range of contexts was great. As always, the comments and contributions of everyone in the class made for a wonderfully rich (if occasionally challenging) learning environment.  It’s a huge topic – I appreciated the flexibility of a core framework/readings and the importance of each person’s reflections and connections and their awareness of other articles, books, viewpoints. The matter of how we know what we know and why augments an element of what I’d call deep methodology that is very rich with meaning, particularly within the context of voluntary religious organizations and their multiple levels of knowing.

Group Dynamics:

The fact that I gained an in-depth understanding of team dynamics and group processes helped me to better understand both personal and professional group communication and behavior. I especially enjoyed learning more about conflict in group dynamics and about proactive strategies that ensure knowledge creation and sustainability. What was most important to me throughout the course, given that I work in a virtual team, is the fact that most of the newly learned material could be applied to real life situations. Dr. Sun was very prompt in his responses to our work and for his inspiring thoughts and comments throughout the course. It was a pleasure and a rich experience being his student.

The course made me realize how important it is to build a solid foundation for team formation and gain a better understanding of cultural influences on behavior. I work in a global team in which over ten cultures are present and understanding and exploring cultural backgrounds greatly influences team work. People normally don’t analyze their groups nor think about the positive impact a thorough analysis would have. This class taught me that. Being a student of Adizes Graduate School for a year now, I appreciate the emphasized importance in each and every course of trust building among team members. In relation to that, Group Dynamics took this matter to a more extensive level by teaching and suggesting ways (through provided readings and professor’s comments) to create strategies to enhance trust among team members in a work environment.

I really appreciated the possibility of learning from home; the positive and supportive attitude of the teacher; the knowledge about the complexity of team dynamics within globalization, conventional challenges within many traditional theories of group dynamics, systemic practices for leaders to create the desired environment, proactive strategies that ensure knowledge creation and sustainability, opportunity to have a insight into how my colleagues have a different opinion on the topic; and the discussions with colleagues. This new knowledge helped me better understand the team where I work, and to use my skills for the common goal of progress. What particularly inspired me were the comments of Dr. Sun, which had opened new questions to think about the theme.The recommended literature is excellent, especially the book by Levi, DJ “Group Dynamics for Teams” which was given an honorary place in my library. The professor asked many questions on each of our essays and ‘ forced’’ us to think. With the new knowledge acquired in this course I feel like a much richer person. And most importantly it is something I will always carry with me and I know it will not lose its value. The personal development program at the end of the course had a stimulating effect which made me stop and think about where I want to be a few years from now and in what way I will build towards that end. And finally, a Latin saying very dear to me: Non progredi est regredi!

Models of Conflict:

I enjoyed the quality of the interactions and the variety of viewpoints and perspectives, the challenge of synthesizing the range of material. I’m still absorbing, although specific goals beyond learning and engagement in the material are beginning to form. Seeing others working toward framing a concept paper (for the PhD) has been very helpful.

This course has added a great deal to my knowledge of issues related to conflict, especially in a multi-cultural environment, which is of particular relevance to me. As a result of this course I have initiated some new projects within my organization, and focused on understanding causes of conflict within an organization that includes many cultures.

Principles of Healing:

This course provided a clear connection between individual and organizational therapy, a point I was not really clear about previously. As a result of taking this course, I have been able to revise and integrate principles of therapy and therapeutic practice and different levels.

Having to do the work of grounding theory in practice, while also relating a topic or practice to Adizes’ Theory is always useful – conceptually as well as practically!  There are questions of ethics, perspective and method that apply to ANY change agent. Dr. Henry was fabulous. Immediately responsive, while putting comments and questions within the overall context of the course and always encouraging further development of a point, paragraph or paper.

Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences:

This course set a strong foundation for me for future dissertation process as I have limited knowledge in this area. Dr. Kritski has been very accommodating with me as I had some challenges in health and work and didn’t participate fully in some of the weeks. I really appreciated his support and understanding in this journey.

I really enjoyed the direct interaction with Dr. Kristki and his interest in guide me in the development and writing of a concept paper; the clear feedback I receive week after week from Dr. Kristki, also grading me the work done on each week; the assigned readings were very well selected as well the sequence of the covered topics; and Dr Kristki was open to learn from me, i.e. about Spiral Dynamics.

This course help me to improve my understanding of SRM also helped me to align my work as social activist. Also, during the course I shift several personal paradigms regarding the social research concepts and discovered that in my day-to-day work I have been using in a intuitive and empirical way several concepts derived from SRM although I did not know about them! I am really grateful for the support and teachings from Dr. Kristki and hope to continue interacting with him either in projects or as a part of my doctoral committee.

I had a fairly good idea of what I wanted from the course. I had read a bit before the course started and I had interviewed my safety manager.  This made it possible to produce a paper that was useful at work. I liked the fact that we started the term paper outline in week 5. This increased focus on the end-product.

Spiral Dynamics (live seminar followed by an online synthesis module):

This course definitely helped me understand the differences between cultures, societies and people that can be applied in different ways: communication, motivation, cooperation etc. It changed my mindset and helped to be more open and sensitive to other people’s values and needs.  I loved the movies, music, and group activities.  I really enjoyed the presentations and examples offered by Dr. Beck, and the cases and applications presented by guest lecturers in part 2 of the course. Don, himself was inspiring. 

The program was very good and extremely well presented as an introduction to Spiral Dynamics. All content was relevant. I enjoyed the whole 5 days and didn’t get tired of listening. I enjoyed the variety of media used (music, films, on-line presentations etc…). It was a lot of information, however, and after the 5 days some elements still felt quite fuzzy. The following online training was essential to connect the new ideas to my experiences and gain an improved understanding of some of the quite abstract concepts and terms introduced in the course. The learning environment, accessibility and helpfulness of support staff was excellent before and during the course.

I loved engaging my mind in thinking about solutions to meaningful problems from the perspective of spiral dynamics, it expanded my thinking. There were brilliant, insightful speakers who were truly engaged, aware, global participants. Faculty and administration did everything right. The entire program was very engaging and stimulating and I hope to use SD professionally. 

It was inspiring because we (the company team) came up with a lot of ideas that we are excited to try in other organizations. Finally, after this seminar now I have a new personal goal, which is continue studying/reading about SDi and Adizes Methodology.

I liked the opportunity to spend time learning from Dr. Beck – it was a privilege. I also liked having Ben as a knowledgeable resource in the course, in particular the evaluation of the assessment tests. It was great to see such a diverse and international group of people attending the course as well. There is a lot of material – and I feel like now I’ve got to integrate it. Some sort of post course structure or guidance for mastering SD might be helpful, but I didn’t take the online part of the course this time.

Don Beck is an excellent educator and his creative ways of teaching us the differences was profound. I liked taking the assessments and having Ben Levi explain their meaning  – that was very personal and meaningful. Darrell’s presentation of the combined use of SDi and Adizes was impressive and powerful.The course was excellent. The fact that Don himself teaches these classes inspired me. There is so much to learn but I feel I have now started the journey. I walked away feeling very inspired to incorporate this information into my meaning making. I am curious to learn more and improve my understanding of these theories and practices.  There is an abundance of materials already provided and I Intend to read all of it. I especially like that we will be receiving the slides, they will augment my notes.  Now I understand why people are so impressed by Spiral Dynamics.

Regarding the online program: After the Level 1 – 2 live training I was overwhelmed with the amount of information I learned and I was unsure how to effectively integrate this new information into my PhD learning. The online part of the course helped me integrate, synthesize and apply these principles to various applications. The expectations were direct and clear. The work enabled me to synthesize the information I learned in the Level 1 & 2 training to a real world situation and learn from my misconceptions. Darrell was an effective and powerful teacher. Each member of the class was open to feedback which helped each of us learn from each other. The amount of work was reasonable for the course.

Strategic Planning (a new 5-week course!):

I really enjoyed the careful reading of posts and comments (by the instructor and others), good directions for deeper exploration, and the proposed books and articles. The course clarified relationships between topics we often use but with different meaning –  Vision – Mission– Objectives – Strategy …. and the books chosen for the introduction and learning were very inspiring. Special Thank You for Professor Biloslavo for his great effort to direct us through these interesting topics and support our exploration of meaning.

The materials presented by the professor were very interesting and nourishing. Both the professor and the administrative staff were excellent. 

Supply Chain Management (a new 5-week course!):

In order to be in better position for successful integration of workshops with clients, my goal was to understand inter-dependency between different stages in supply chain. This goal was completely fulfilled. Inspiring was analyzing the connection between Adizes methodology with Supply Chain management. It was chance to learn deeply some topics. This course provided new knowledge from books and a great experience from classmates.  I enjoyed the discussion and examples described by peers and the Professor’s comments and direction.

System Lifecycles:

This course and program exceeds my expectations. I had some experience with a master degree program in Ljubljana University (Faculty of economics) and an MBA program but somehow I was not really attracted – it was more of a “must do”.  I certainly was attracted to AGS program – I had no doubts about the quality of the program. I was fascinated by the courses content – when I read Dr.Strickland’s syllabus it was as my dream come true. I must admit I had some second thoughts about how online learning would work in practice – but now I explain everyone who is willing to listen how great it is – and even more personal than any “live” program.  I rate it a 5 (our top score for excellent).

I entered this course on the threshold of my new personal and professional life cycle (actually few of them). Somehow new transition period started in July, and during this course many things that have been “cooked” within me recently, got the opportunity to articulate them and came out as very clear messages. This course definitely awaked me to make some choices and take some decisions I probably wouldn’t make yet .

I’ve gained an acute awareness that all the knowledge in the world is not enough if one doesn’t do their best to really make a difference. Maybe my participation in the course suffered because of personal challenges, but somewhere in the second third of the course I started to prepare (with few colleagues and friends) a program for the new political party based on holistic ecology and sustainable development. Suddenly, in one moment I knew I was ready. Believe me – a lot of insights and knowledge from this course will be built into this program we are developing. Also, concerning my business activities, I’ve already started to look at the projects and problems through Dr. Adizes’ eyes. Last but not least, I feel more and more comfortable using English!

Systems Thinking:  Modeling Complexity:

The content of the course is very relevant to the world we live in now. I also liked the high quality of Professor LaRue’s feedback and insights, and the classmates’ high quality participation. Overall, this is the best course I’ve had so far. This course has greatly expanded my worldview and added new and updated concepts and theories to my knowledge base. Because of this, it helps me see the world with a more complete perspective and, when I interact with my clients, I can assist them to do so, too.

The subject itself was the best I have ever had. That coupled with the extremely high standards of some of my fellow students pushed me close to my limits. In general the environment was really a learning one. I really had a lot of valuable reflections and a lot of insights. The book, the readings, some of my fellow students – it is hard to think of anything that could be improved in this course. The course has added a lot to my understanding about how social systems function. That has built upon my innate aptitude for thinking systemically. Despite the fact that the subject seems to be theoretical it is deeply practical.

This was a great learning experience extremely relevant to Adizes professionals. In my opinion this course is a ‘must’ and should be part of the required core courses in all programs. The most important point was the awareness of the need for a systemic view of the complex reality we live and immerse ourselves in, its underlying metaphors and its methodological, ethical and professional implications. Seeing the world as systems within systems, and organizations as multi-minded purposeful open social systems adds a very rich dimension to the way Adizes looks at organizations, and thus impacts its model, method, ethics, language and practice. As mentioned above, this is an essential course for Adizes professionals. More specifically:

The Syllabus: Very good text book (Gharagedaghi, 2011); Expect to work hard 12-15 hours per week; Assignments are very relevant from the theoretical and professional points of view.

The Instructor: Dr. Bruce LaRue – A master teacher, facilitator, motivator and at giving feed-back; Deeply understands the subject and the related topics; Motivating and  full of energy; Every course  I have taken with Dr. LaRue has changed me as a professional and as a person; I am deeply in debt for such intellectual and professional experiences.

Theories of Change and Development:

My understanding and perspective on the fundamental aspects of change and how planned change can be retained have been improved considerably.  My previous views and methods in this area were very “objective” but I’ve come to have much more appreciation for the role, and need, for the subjective considerations. Being to crystallize the concept that organizational change cannot stick without personal changes by those in the organization is the most significant take-away from this course.

I’ve enjoyed this course very much. It’s very relevant to the coaching and consulting work I do professionally. I’ve enjoyed the materials presented in this course and felt that I’ve been updated with new information and knowledge.Overall, this course has everything to do with my work, which is to support individuals and organizations as they deal with change. So the course has helped me tremendously professionally and also it helped me in gaining deeper insights regarding the personal transitions I am (and my clients are) going through. I am grateful for this process.

I would rate this course very high. The opportunity to be reflecting on change in the midst of significant personal and professional situations had a major and beneficial effect on the outcome of my situation. We do not have to be merely “make the best of it” consumers of change, but we are also able to initiate and redirect change. I appreciated our occasional attention to the descriptive characteristics of the scale, scope and pace of change. The articles by Wieck & Quinn, Huy & Mintzberg, Pascale et al, provided the impetus to think about the ways that I think about change; to ask what is the qualitative difference between continuous, incremental and episodic change. In a similar fashion, both Huy & Mintzberg’s Triangle of Change and Robertson’s analogical Spiral of Solid – Liquid – Gaseous transitions provided additional ways to think about phase shifts as they apply to my view and understanding of change. The possibility of fruitful extension of these concepts was made apparent to me when today’s New York Times Book Review included a very brief discussion of Bose-Einstein condensate and its experimental ability to actually stop the light of a laser beam. Its enough to make you think! The realities of my own employment situation provided a significant additional dimension to the discussions. I was acutely aware of the inner emotional and outer interpersonal and organizational dynamics of change development and transition. One of my few regrets in that period was the fact that I did not keep a detailed journal, but that too was a conscious decision – the regret is in retrospect. My repeated insistence that we do have choices and we can shape and influence both our reactions and the way that we relate to change, as well as how we choose to exercise our ability to initiate change (both in what we do or say and in what we choose to withhold) was undoubtedly a product of the depth and complexity of my engagement with / immersion in the whole topic.  I have no doubt that material from this course will exercise a shaping influence on the development of my dissertation work. 
 

Vision and Values:

For me the course way inspiring in so many ways. First of all, I never thought of the ‘values’ importance so much. Then, it made me really implement my personal values in all aspects of my life. It provided great help in changing the Vision of our organization (where I work) and my inspiration transferred to my colleagues.

This course has helped me both personally and professionally. For the first time in my life I have been conducting a self-analysis of my values and values of the people around me. I never thought it would have an impact on corporate culture, nor how much corporate culture affects organizational success. In my professional life I have been dedicated to achieving goals and providing value for the organization, but I haven’t been focused on how the process of achieving can be interesting and fun. This course made me stop for a moment and analyze my co-workers.  I felt a drive to implement new knowledge and skills  in my professional life, and even in my private life.

I have learned a lot, first of all, about the way I view myself, how I understand the decisions I have made in my life that have brought me to where I am now, and how I can continue to improve. I learned how vision and values serve as central motivating force in serving change efforts to understand the purpose of values and vision in our personal and professional lives. I have developed and ability to work effectively in an online environment, and doing so able to demonstrate critical thinking and integrating theory and practice on this subject.

For me one of the greatest benefits of the course was the chance to use and apply examples from my professional experience, compare them through different topics, and give them new dimension that will be useful for my professional and private life. The course also stimulated free expression and creativity, ways of communicating and positive interaction.

What I find interesting was the way I was lead through the course. Gradually from week to week I gained the new skills and new knowledge and, through course somehow, become aware of the new technique that I was able to implement immediately. Even though I recognize the importance of self-evaluation and self-assessment, somehow through this course I become aware of myself, my strengths and weaknesses. There were situations in which I failed to nurture dialogue and advance relationships. What I learned and what I will practice in the future is to make sure that I care enough to ask and to connect with people. Also I will ask the others in my organization to do the same.

I really liked learning from home; the positive and supportive attitude of teachers; the knowledge about organizational culture; how to use of rubrics to monitor organizational processes or implementing small changes; the opportunity to have a insight into how my colleagues have a different opinion on the topic; and discussions with colleagues.  My knowledge about vision and values is much greater now. I learned a lot of things that I used to only vaguely understand about organization culture. . In general people tend to take things for granted. In principle we know our values or we think that we know.  It was interesting to re-examine my own values and their impact on the workplace and the organization. I discovered some of my strengths and weaknesses and became more aware of myself.

The manner in which the course is designed online gives us the flexibility. The course is entirely very well organized. The beauty of this course is that we have to be in communication regularly, a few times a week. In the beginning that was a challenging for me due to my busy schedule. But later on because of discussion and relations with colleagues I realized that I was actual looking forward for each new communication.  Further, we must constantly be active, explore and work tasks that are set for us, and in that way we are developing new skills that are needed in today’s business world. The final paper was the best part of this course because it was useful in practical way and I was able to summarize the lessons learned.