Faculty Profile: John Adams

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John Adams

Dr. Adams is the author of Thinking Today as if Tomorrow Mattered: Rise of a Sustainable Consciousness (2000) and Life Changes (1990) and the editor of Transforming Work and Transforming Leadership (2nd editions 1999). He is currently involved with a variety of large scale, complex organizational change implementations and a number of new writing projects in the areas of change, individual effectiveness at work, and the creative aspects of human consciousness.
His teaching at Saybrook is within the Organizational Systems concentration. He is the concentration Head of OS. Within the OS area, he teaches many of the consultative and transformation oriented courses. He has been deeply committed to Saybrook's vision and values for many years, and believes that the structure and process of education at Saybrook are excellent for supporting mid-career professionals.
The central theme of his professional life has been the self-fulfilling and self-reinforcing nature of human consciousness, as expressed in the results we get as individuals, as organizational systems, and as a species. His passion is in the area of nurturing the emergence of a critical mass of consciousness that will co-create a high quality of life on earth for all beings of the next generation. In addition to the foregoing, his research interests are in the area of deep pattern change at the individual, organizational and societal levels.


Curriculum Vitae

Upcoming Presentations and Public Addresses

Speak at Green Festival on Psychology of Sustainability, November, 2008.

Degrees, Discipline, Year, Institution

Ph.D. Organizational Behavior, 1969, Case Western Reserve University

B.S. Management Science (Operations Research), 1965, Case Institute of Technology

B.A. Mathematics (Theoretical Statistics), 1965, Wittenberg University

Current Projects and Professional Activities

I am currently collecting data from an international audience on the following questions:

  • What are the prevailing mental models in your organization?
  • What techniques or processes can be used to increase the versatility of people’s mental models?
  • What do you consider to be the most important OD skills for the first two decades of the 21st Century?
  • What do you consider to be the most important OD Technologies and Processes for the first two decades of the 21st Century?
  • What do you consider to be the most important OD Values and Perspectives for the first two decades of the 21st Century?

The results are compiled for my various presentations above, and will also be used in a book I am beginning to outline, with the working title: Mental models and Sustainability: Building a critical mass.

Please visit my professional practice website at www.eartheart-ent.com for further information on my consulting and workshop interests.

Current Publications

2008. Mental Models for Sustainability. In Enterprise Sustainability, Jeana Wirtenberg, J & Lipsky, D., Eds). Sheffield, UK: Greenleaf Publishing.


2006. Building O.D.C. as an Academic Discipline. In Organization Development Journal. 24(3).


2006. Transforming work. (2nd Ed. Re-released). Cosimo, New York.









Significant Publications

Understanding and managing stress Package of four books: Readings, Workbook, Facilitator’s Manual, & Instruments to assess your life style. University Associates, San Diego, CA, 1980 & 1989.


Life changes: The seven stages of personal growth. Co-Author with Sabina A. Spencer. New York: Paraview Special Editions. 2002


The brighter the light, the darker the shadow." Vision/action. Summer, 1992


The hurrier I go the behinder I get." Vision/action. Spring, 1993








Important Conference Presentations

November 2005. Convener: "Action Learning Conference Within A Conference." At the National OD Network Conference, Minneapolis.

September 2005. Keynote: "The Business Case for Resilience and Work-Life Balance Programs." At The International OD Association, Guanajuato, Mexico.

October 2004. Keynote Panel on "40 Years of the OD Network" at ODN Annual Meeting, Puerto Rico.

September 2004. Mental Models for Sustainability. Keynote for ConocoPhillips Refinery Management and Citizens Advisory Council Meeting, Montana

October 2003. Chaired Keynote Panel at National ODN meeting, Topic was "Case Examples of Successful Sustainable Development implementation." Portland OR

September 2002. The Role of OD in a Sustainabile Future. Keynote presentation at IODA Annual Conference, Santiago, Chile.

A number of Open Space Facilitations, Future Search Conferences, and Appreciative Inquiry Summits

Research Interests

I am interested in how our mental models (beliefs, attitudes, expectations, values) operate in an autopilot way to guide our behaviors and influence the results we get. In a very related area, I am further interested in understanding what qualities or characteristics must be present in order to successfully change deep habit patterns (such as habits of thinking, and, collectively, shared habits -- culture). My passion for application of this research is in supporting sustainability efforts through an understanding of how mental models affect sustainable and unsustainable practices.

Research Expertise

I am most recently experienced in action research and in various qualitative methods – grounded theory, heuristics, hermeneutics, phenomenology.  In my more distant past, I have two degrees in mathematics (both theoretical and applied statistics) and I know how to look up what I need to support quantitative research.

Expertise Working with Saybrook Students

Improving quality of writing; incorporating systematic, critical thinking into essays and theses / dissertations, one on one coaching and advising regarding program plans and further career plans. Guidance in substantive areas of Organization Development and Transformation, Sustainability, Resilience and Work-Life Balance and versatility of consciousness.

Research Expertise

Research Expertise Rating Guide:

  1. studied in a class or have read intensively on my own
  2. special training in the form of a workshop or equivalent
  3. taught a class in, or supervised research using this method (research practicum, on a dissertation or master's committee
  4. used in research myself
  5. published or presented at conferences my research using this method

Methods Traditionally Considered As Quantitative (But Need Not Be)

Laboratory Research 3
Field Experiments 3
Randomized Controlled Clinical
Quasi-experimental methods 2
Correlational Methods 4

Methods That Could Use Quantitative Or Qualitative Methods

Action Research 5
Survey Research 5
Interview Research 5
Observational Research 5
Epidemiological Research
Ethnography 2
Focus Groups 4
Self-Observational Methods 4
Narrative Methods
Feminist Methods
Content Analysis 5
Discovery-Oriented (psychotherapy)
Events paradigm (psychotherapy)
Archival Research
Case History Methods
Appreciative Inquiry 5
Multiple Case Depth Research
Hermeneutic Single Case Efficacy Design 2
Longitudinal research
Cross-sectional research

Methods Primarily Associated With Qualitative Research (But May Also Use Quantitative)

Ethnoautobiographical research
Hermeneutics 3
Grounded Theory 5
Phenomenology 3
Heuristic Research 3

Types of Analysis

Simple Parametric Statistics (t-test, etc.) 5
Confidence intervals 5
Analysis of Variance (including MANOVA) 4
Analysis of Covariance 3
Regression (including multiple regression) 3
Discriminant Function Analysis
Structural Equation Modeling/Path Analysis
Causal Modeling
Cluster Analysis
Survival Analysis
Bayesian Analysis
Meta-analysis and effect sizes
Factor Analysis 2
Time series analysis
Multidimensional scaling 1