John Mayes (christopher.mayes@actrix.gen.nz)
Wed, 26 May 1999 05:42:49 +1200

John Tse writes:
`Having read the excellent (and one of the few) books on applying such
a technique to business entitled "business applications of the
repertory grid" by Stewart and Steward I am posed with a problem.

In the book it warns that to be proficient in its use, one must have
at least one year's experience. This I certainly do not have.
Therefore, would it be wise to continue.'

I referred your Email to Valerie Stewart who responded as follows:

`Hello John. Going from memory - it's ages since I re-read my own book - I
think I was more likely to have said something like 'it may take you a year
to learn the full range of purposes for, and configurations of, Grid which
are available to the person who wants to use it as a tool. One of the
issues with Grid is that it's a powerful but empty procedure and there are
so many different things you can do with it, but often people don't or
can't extrapolate from their first exposure to it and see all the options
they have.

If you're contemplating starting, then you might find the Enquire Within
workbook on Counselling useful, because that has some prepared suggestions
and sessions which can be used as is or with a little adaptation. However,
may I make a number of suggestions in the hope that you won't find them

1. Start by some practice in a safe place with a 'vanilla' set of elements
etc., and one or two friends who will be prepared to be used as guineapigs.
The actual administration takes some time to learn - the learning curve is
fast, but don't waste the opportunity you'll have with real people later
on. Some of the hints on our web site are deliberately written for the
complete newcomer, because you're learning on three levels at once.

2. Decide in advance what your analysis will be, because this will
influence your choice of elements, qualifiers, etc. There's nothing worse
than finding yourself with quantities of data which don't easily fit you
analysis package. I'm strongly committed to dentritic analysis because it
doesn't crush the data into an artificial number of dimensions and it
allows you to go on refining your Grid until you both have nothing left to
say. With a well-worked topic like motivation, I suspect that you'll need
to concentrate on 'what's special about and for these particular people' is
the important question to address, rather than produce a re-hash of what
has gone before.

3. Pilot. If your first session doesn't work, try something else. (The
first place to look is at your choice of elements - the more concrete the
elements the better, but this tends to be the first mistake which novices -
and non-novices - make).

4. Plan feedback into your project, for two reasons: the first is that the
first Grid you do with someone is a 'first pass' over their thinking and
you need to give them the chance to reflect and refine it), The second is
so that you avoid the trap of construing other people's construing, by
which I mean the experimenter taking it upon themselves to decide what the
results mean, and this assumption of superior judgement is both wrong and
offensive. And make it clear from the start, when you approach people, that
they can expect feedback, and also what will happen to the data.

5. Find yourself a mentor. If there isn't one in your own department - and
ideally it should be someone who's used to using Grid for practical research
purposes and knows the on-the-ground difficulties - find someone nearby.

Hope this helps. '

John Mayes