Sample Essay on Teaching Smart People How to Learn by Chris Argyris

Harvard Business Review – Teaching Smart People How to Learn by Chris Argyris

Chris Argyris educational and experience background shows his understanding of organizational behavior and the learning of managers. He has an undergraduate degree in psychology, “masters in economics and a PHD in organization behavior” (Pfeffer & Sutton, 2013). The educational backgrounds equipped well to perform research at Yale University in the late 1960s. In 1968, He moved to Harvard Business School as the professor of education and organizational behavior. Apart from teaching, he performs consultancy work.  The outside research shows that Argyris is well suited to write an article on the learning of managers and workers in organizations.

I learned that I should always focus on my internal growth and development. This includes the analysis of my actions and behaviors in the organization. Since, the ability to solve any problems or perform well depends on my internal capacity. I was also exposed on the ways of reasoning productively. Individual attitudes and commitment is not adequate in bringing about new changes and transformation.  In most occasions, people are much focused on improving performance within the organizations and thus, forgoing the feelings and attitudes of other people (Argyris, 1991). Thus, I learned that people should value the actions of the others in order to create a social work place. Such behavior help in creating appropriate organizational defenses relevant in handing most of the organizational problems. The learning experiences from the article build my internal strengths to confront any challenges in the workplace.

From the article, I was able to learn various things relating to human nature. The universal human aspect includes the desire to gain unilateral control, maximizes winning and minimizes losses, suppressing negative feelings and acting rationally. Every human seeks to gain control over others in every situations. Another practical human nature is maximizing benefits and reducing losses (Pfeffer & Sutton, 2013). At all times, people seek to gain success and not failure. In addition, persons would anything possible to hide any negative feelings, since they affect their social lives. In terms of rationality, it implies that people focuses on defining objectives and the evaluation of their actions towards the goals and objectives. The aspects on human nature learned helps to enhance reasoning as well as encouraging appropriate actions.  After learning them, I would be able to act rationally and responsibility in any situation. The four human nature ideas offer a true reflection of the current human actions in the society.

Based on the understanding of the article, I can apply various ideas and concept to the course topic.  For instance, I can apply ideas that education offered to the various professionals is not appropriate resolving problems in the organizations. However, the success of the professional comes from understanding your feelings, since the feelings helps to deal with the inherent problems in the organization.  In addition, I can appreciate the need for performance evaluation of the professionals. Performance evaluation seeks to push the professionals to work objectively while integrating the element of satisfaction and effective communication. Moreover, I can apply the concept of organizational change (Argyris, 1991). The organizational change program should be based on the desire to follow the best strategies and practices. This would improve the overall performance of the organizations. Most important, I can understand the real nature of problem solving. Most organizations rely on the learning of the professionals to resolve the organizations.  However, problem solving is not important for the success of the organizations.  Therefore, the concept of learning and organizational change programs can be applied to the course topic as explained by Argyris.




Argyris, C. (1991). Teaching smart people how to learn. Harvard business review, 69(3).

Pfeffer, J., & Sutton, R. I. (2013). The knowing-doing gap: How smart companies turn knowledge into action. Watertown, MA: Harvard Business Press.