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Encyclopedia of development methods – review


Title: Encyclopedia of development methods
Author: Andrzej Huczynski
Publisher: Gower
ISBN: 0-566-07920-8
Format: 399pp, Hardback
Price: £150

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As one may expect from any encyclopedia, this is not a “can’t put it down read”. Nevertheless, it makes fascinating browsing as well as providing an opportunity to find out just what some of those buzz-words actually mean.

The encyclopedia start with an unusually useful preface which outlines the major themes, issues and developments of management and organisational development. This clearly establishes the tome's genesis as a bringing together of the author’s previous works in these two areas. Following the acknowledgements and an index of the terms defined, there are three useful articles. The first, “Defining the field”, makes the links, and differences, between MD and OD clear and offers an integrative model of the two. Further sections provide useful overviews of theoretical and classification frameworks for each of the two areas.

However, many readers will want to get into “the meat” of the book, the 347 page “Directory of methods”.

This starts with the Abercrombie method (and I thought it was some form of jacket) and finishes with Zero defects (there are actually two entries for Z: unfortunately, the other is ZD- see zero defects!). With about 700 definitions in-between, the book offers an Aladdin’s cave of useful reference material.

Each entry gives a brief explanation of the method - more than just a definition, but less than an article - together with internal references to other entries in the encyclopedia. Thus, the term "facilitation" gives a brief explanation together with references to coaching and consultation. In addition, most entries also give useful references to further in-depth reading.

The entry for facilitation illustrates both the strengths and weaknesses of the approach. The main entry itself is a succinct 70 or so words which, whilst defining what facilitation is (the process of guiding a group, using a learner-centred mode of instruction), says little about the actual techniques involved. Those that it does link to (coaching and consultation) are admittedly much longer (by a factor of five or so) and give some useful information. However, how about the links between facilitation and all of the other techniques which it may involve? (for instance, the entries for action learning, T-groups, study groups and workshops all mention the role of the facilitatator).

Nevertheless, this is a minor gripe, and I would consider this weighty tome as an invaluable reference work which is likely to earn a well-thumbed place on any trainer’s shelves.

Neil Wellman
NetWork Associates
[email protected]


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