Action chain

Many concepts claim to have found the overarching theme that can explain and sometimes also predict human behavior. In earlier articles some of the ideas were briefly mentioned, and others were called upon to aid with a tangle. It is rare to find a concept simple yet one which can be found in many theories, and it will also be rarely debated what makes up its value.

What is an action chain?

..a set sequence of events in which usually two or more individuals participate. It is reminiscent of a dance that is used as means of reaching a common goal that can be reached only after, and not before, each link in the chain has been forged. (E.T. Hall)

(Trans)Action chains

The aforementioned sequences are often regarded as straightforward. That is rarely the case, as some action chains are prolonged in time and others consist of many abrupt steps. Once interrupted, actions chains may cause a process to start over.

Building a team, for instance, is a complex example of how restarting the process too many times interferes with intrinsic motivation and performance. The same outcome is visible in open office space, as crowding tends to suffocate a person’s natural flow.

This leads us to the emotional element in action chains. High context cultures tend to have a corresponding rate of completing sequences. This is due to cohesion in the group, as per E.T. Hall. Cohesion, of course, being the fabric of high context. Low context cultures, however, are mostly monochromic and tend to break the action chain easier. You can see how action chains present the console, on which other aspects of culture are mounted.

Last but not least, we internalize action chains at a intrapsychic level, too. Breaking the cycle is a state known to all of us from a very early age. This very same phenomenon has been the basis for many psychological concepts, and linked to psychoses and neuroses not only by Sigmund Freud.

Why dig this deep while filling requisitions?

Mostly because it represents recruitment. If you would look at the definition of an action chain, you may find another narrative for talent acquisition. Way beyond keyword matching and structured gathering of data, the art of the interview also includes localizing as many actions chains as possible.

We all give away many hints for what motivates or infuriates us. We can propel the conversation until we reach the motivational core.





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