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Measuring Hidden Dimensions: The Art and Science of Fully Engaging Adults

Laske, Otto E.
2023, 460 pages
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Adults develop over the course of their lives - sometimes little and sometimes dynamically.  The analysis of the respective developmental stage can significantly optimize professional personnel work. The German-American psychologist Dr. Dr. Otto E. Laske describes in his handbook - scientifically founded - possibilities of a development-oriented consulting.

The handbook

  • addresses all professional groups in human resources management incl. coaching
  • makes it possible to understand clients on an extraordinarily differentiated level
  • concretizes methods for the analysis of individuals, teams or larger groups
  • offers opportunities to understand oneself better
  • encourages to further develop the model of developmental stages from a personal perspective
  • contains numerous case studies, examples and practical reflections

Intended Readership 
This book offers an adult development-based approach to the helping professions with both a detailed theoretical discourse in the form of CDF, the constructive developmental framework, as well as  concrete guidance for CDF applications. The book concentrates on the professional practice of coaches, coach supervisors, mediators, mentors, team facilitators, clinical and behavioral psychologists, human resources specialists, and researchers of adult development over the lifespan.  
The book’s insights are also highly applicable for educators and professional work in social science fields. It provides guidance on how to assist adult learners and students on a psychological level. Notably, it addresses the orientation struggles that occur during early and late teenage as well as early adulthood.  

  • This book introduces a paradigm shift in working with clients and learners in a professional or academic setting by moving the focus of work from an outcome oriented and model-based process towards a dialogue-based, internal and real-time, engagement between parties.  
  • By integrating research findings in ‘social-emotional’ development accrued since 1975, especially research of the Harvard Kohlberg School, this book focuses a practitioner’s attention to a client’s internal conversations to then engage in a dialogue process laying bare how adults, internally and unbeknownst to themselves, construct their positioning in the social world. This entails that rather than focusing on behavior (‘Verhalten’), practitioner’s attention is focused on how people “make meaning” of themselves as social agents, in dialogue with themselves and, based it, with others. 
  • The book’s foundation in empirical research is described at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constructive_developmental_framework  
  • The author bases his constructive developmental framework on the premise that humans take a particular epistemic position which reveals a person’s conception of the nature of “knowledge” and “truth”. By introducing Robert Kegan’s model of meaning making, the book sheds light on how internal conversations are structured epistemically, which then can be communicated and given feedback on in terms of “stages of meaning making”.  
  • The book shows that an individual’s social-emotional profile cannot be reduced to his/her ‘stage’, and that s(he) mentally rather oscillates around a center of gravity associated with three or more substages, typically three.  
  • A major assumption made in the book is that what people know about themselves and others, as well as how far they can grow into mature adults, is based on their ongoing internal conversations with themselves of which they are largely unaware.  
  • The book conveys research findings accrued since 1975 portraying how maturity in adults develops in an orderly measurable progression, with a focus on “meaning making” rather than cognitive “sense making” - two different strands of adult development that are, however, closely linked. It spells out and interprets validated empirical outcomes of adult-developmental research in social-emotional and cognitive development over the life span.  
  • The insights the book is based on are now 45 years old but have remained curiously hidden in the teachings for the aforementioned professions due to a multitude of social and cultural reasons. As a result, the book is a critique of professional ideologies. 
  • The book shows in detail that meaning making (called ‘social-emotional’ in contrast to ‘cognitive’ development) evolves and develops over a person’s lifespan in what are five different “stages” (Stufen). Each stage in turn comprises four ‘substages’ that can be discerned through structured listening in qualitative interviews. Accordingly, the book conveys insight into about 20 stages and teaches how to discern these by applying the CDF framework.  
  • The major assessment method for understanding and giving feedback on meaning making is qualitative interviewing.  
  • CDF-based interviews are semi-structured conversations between an “interviewer” (practitioner) and “interviewee” (client). Such interviews represent an art form which can be learned. Teaching experience shows that mastering this new competency of interviewing takes about one year and a half under the guidance of a CDF-expert.  
  • This book invites and models breaking away from a behavioral and outcome-oriented perspective towards a ‘developmental’, i.e., knowledge-focused, perspective from which client-answers to the question of  “what should I do and for whom” are explored through 
  • structured dialogue
  • Client-answers to this question differ according to the aforementioned five stages.  
  • Working professionally based on clients’ present level of social-emotional development fosters and improves the quality of the practitioner-client (and even colleague to colleague) relationship as it regards behavior as an outcome of level of maturity, and thus an epiphenomenon rather than being the primary focus of work with clients. 
  • The practice taught in this book fosters a high-level awareness of one’s own -- a speaker’s or dialogue partner’s -- social-emotional maturity level. The CDF practitioner will experience not only a shift and transformation in one’s listening to others but also in listening to one’s own internal dialogue. Overall, the practices described in the book bring about a ‘Revolution der Denkungsart’- a transformation and growth of one’s mental processing in real time. 
  • In summary, this book articulates the pedagogical foundations of 20 years of undergraduate and graduate instruction in developmental coaching and coach supervision, mediation, mentoring, and team development and facilitation at the Interdevelopmental Institute (IDM; www.interdevelopmentals.org), delivered in international cohorts in English, French, German, and Spanish. 

Having proven its worth in practice and for many practitioners, the book is ready to be used for introspection and reflection, learning, teaching and examinations at learning institutions, colleges, universities, social agencies, as well as in any setting or program for executive and team development. 

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