Brief intro to Action Logics - Transcript

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Hi, this is Andrew Lightheart from Here's a really quick introduction to action logics. This is the leadership development stuff I've been looking at for the past couple of years and I just really today want to give you literally key words to remember the seven stages that sometimes I refer to when I'm writing and talking about this.

What the action logics are, are stages that we human beings can move through as we learn to deal with more complexity, more uncertainty. It's a continuum. It's way more complex than this, but here's some keywords just to have you be able to anchor each stage to a particular concept in your mind.

So we start with Opportunist. Opportunist is the tightest action logic and the key word for Opportunist is Number One, looking out for Number One. Someone with their action logic at Opportunist really only thinks about what's in the immediate vicinity of them.  And if you want me to follow the rules, you should just police me better. It's a dog-eat-dog world. 

Most people move beyond that to Diplomat. The keyword for Diplomat is belonging. And Diplomats have realized they need to push down their impulses that were there in the Opportunist phase so that they can belong and there's groups of people that they want to belong to and they just want to know: just tell me what to do in order to be a good team member. Not much inquiry. Both of those stages are quite dependent on external things. 

Then there's a movement with some people beyond that to independent action logics.

The first of which is Expert. And the key word for Expert is problem. So when we begin to move beyond the groups that we want to belong to, we want to develop some skill in a particular area and we develop an ability to solve problems in a very discreet zone.  The thinking at this stage is often quite rigid, quite black and white, quite judgey of people who've chosen other options, very little empathy and not much inquiry, apart from into your very tight zone of expertise,  

Then a much bigger stage of independent action logic is Achiever and the key word for Achiever is outcomes. And this is people who've moved beyond a siloed expertise to being able to think more strategically with longer timelines, and they understand that other people have different perspectives. This is where empathy begins to come in strongly, but everything is about how do I hit the numbers, how do I achieve my targets. 

The bit that I'm often quite interested in is the transition from independent action logics to interdependent action logics.

And the first interdependent action logic is Redefining. People at redefining are concerned with culture, with creating the circumstances for success.  When you move from independent to interdependent action logics, you're moving from certainty to uncertainty, to seeing that the world is a mess, that things are really complex and that there's something beyond hitting your targets. You begin to realize that you have a limited perspective and so you have to bring in other people in order to solve the bigger problems that you're looking at. Boundaries of teams and organizations become much more fluid and blurred at this stage. 

Then there's reasonably rarely people who evolve beyond that to Transforming. And I suppose a key word with Transforming would be gardening. I'm borrowing that from friends of mine, but you do notice that people at the Transforming action logic and use a lot of gardening metaphors. They think of the soil, the sun, the nutrients, the plants, the seeds, and the ecosystem in a really true sense.  So when they're looking at creating action in the world, the logic they're looking through is very complex, very long timelines, 10, 20 year timelines, longer. And they understand that if you want to create sustainable change, you have to affect the flows of events and not just think about a discrete targets. 

Rarely people evolve beyond Transforming to Alchemist. There isn't really a key word for Alchemist because each Alchemist is an Alchemist in their own way. But there seems to be something about fresh awareness, about bringing something fresh to each moment. Being able to handle multiple timelines, multiple perspectives, and really understanding the truth of the human condition, that we are on this strange rock in the middle of the sky, in the middle of space. And yet we also need to get stuff done and so really being able to hold a lot of paradox, a lot of complexity, and yet be really present in the moment. 

So those are the seven stages and obviously there's a lot of nuance that I've missed out but that gives you some keys to hook things onto. The whole research around action logic is really how do we make wise and timely action as people and as leaders. And those are the stages that we go through as we become more and more wise.

So I'm Andrew Lightheart from and that was a really quick intro to action logics.