The Reflective Practitioner

About Grady

Brief Professional Biography

For 20 years I have been principal of McGonagill Associates, an organizational consulting and leadership development firm specializing in building capacity for learning and change. During this period I have served a wide range of enterprises in North and South America, Europe and Asia, with clients in the corporate, public, and non-profit sectors. Until recently my practice focused primarily on three areas:

Leadership Development

Building a Culture of Learning and Development

Individual Coaching

After two decades of periodic unstructured reflection on my practice, I engaged several years ago in a period of intensive reflection under the guidance of a long-time mentor, David Kantor (and his associate, B.C. Huselton). Kantor offered the metaphor of “model building,” along with supportive tools. The fruits of this effort—and Kantor’s increasingly limited availability—inspired me to begin offering similar opportunities to others on my own in 2002.

Key Influences on My Practice Model

My Personal Experience with Model Building

More Complete Biography



Key Influences on My Practice Model

In roughly chronological order, the key theoretical influences on my practice are listed below. My own model building has taken the form of sorting out the ways in which these diverse influences are complementary and contradictory, with the aim of integrating them into a set of beliefs and practices that are aligned with my values and personal strengths and limits.

Action Inquiry (Arygyris, Schon, Torbert, Jentz & Wofford)

Constructive Developmental Psychology (Kegan, Torbert, Cook-Greuter)

Type Theory (Jung, Myers-Briggs) and Temperament Theory (Keirsey, Berens)

Cognitive Therapy (Ellis, Beck, Young)

Systems Thinking (Oshry, Senge)

Theory and Practice of Mindfulness (Buddhist psychology, Vipassana and Dzogchen meditation)

Model Building (Kantor)

Integral Theory (Wilber)

The “U Model” (Senge, Scharmer, Jaworski)

For a more detailed representation of these influences, click here.

For a visual model of how I integrated some of these influences into a model of sense making, click here.

For a narrative account of how I began the journey of sorting out these influences on one area of my practice, click here. (1,790 Kb)

More Complete Biography

I am beginning my third decade as President of McGonagill Associates, an organizational consulting and management development firm specializing in building capacity for learning and change. In recent years this practice has been characterized by distinctive expertise in the following areas:

Leadership Development: Creating support for development of leadership capacity at all levels of an organization, through the design and delivery of programs that integrate ongoing learning about the personal, interpersonal, and systemic dimensions of leadership with day-to-day work challenges.

Building a Culture of Learning and Development: Helping organizations identify, develop, and institutionalize the mindsets and skills conducive to a climate of ongoing self-initiated learning and support for the learning of others.

Individual Coaching: One-on-one coaching to develop the mindsets and skills that promote leadership, learning and change.

Illustrative Experience

Over the past 10 years I have been a key adviser to a premier global consulting firm in the development of a culture of learning and coaching, a critical element of the firm’s aspiration to attract, develop and retain great people. To strengthen on-the-job learning, I helped the firm institute new team leadership practices that have been adopted world-wide. In addition, I designed a high-impact coaching workshop that has become part of the firm’s required curriculum and I have trained a world-wide network of facilitators to deliver it.

Since 1996 I have supported a major global electronics firm in a variety of initiatives aimed at developing leadership and fostering change. From 1996-2000 I was the lead faculty member and coach for a year-long Change Agent Program that provided emerging leaders with opportunities to take on challenging projects while supported by a comprehensive curriculum of multi-disciplinary learning and coaching.

In 2002 I began offering seminars to other consultants on the use of model building as a means to reflect on one’s practice in the pursuit of mastery.

Illustrative Clients:

My corporate clients include Fannie Mae, Siemens, A.G., and McKinsey & Company. Public sector clients include the New York State Board of Regents and the Federal Labor Relations Authority. I have also worked with non-profit organizations such as the Orchestra Forum, Amnesty International and the National Audubon Society. My workshops on coaching, leadership, conflict management, team building, and interpersonal skills have been offered through a number of executive programs, including Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management, Babson College’s Center for Executive Education, Brandeis University's Heller School of Management, and the Center for Management Research. For a more complete listing of clients, click here.

Formal Education

I hold an Ed.D. from Harvard University, an M.A. from Stanford University, and a B.A. from the University of Texas.


I am a contributor to the Fifth Discipline Fieldbook, edited by Peter Senge et al. (New York: Doubleday, 1994) and the author of a chapter in Executive Coaching, edited by C. Fitzgerald and J. Berger (San Francisco: Davies Black Publishing, 2002)



Aetna Life and Casualty
Berol Nobel
Boston Scientific Corporation
Colonia Versicherung
DuPont Chemicals
Eli Lilly and Company
Fannie Mae
Herman Miller
Johnson & Johnson Products
Kraft Foods Atlantic Gelatin
McKinsey & Company
Open Software Foundation
Prime Computer
Shipley Company
Siemens, A.G.
Travelers Companies
Unum America
United Biscuit


American Symphony Orchestra League
Amnesty International
Appalachian Mountain Club
Audubon Society
Currier Gallery of Art
Dance USA
Environmental Hazards Management Institute
International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives
Institute for Sustainable Communities
John Snow International
Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra
Maine Coast Heritage Trust
National Audubon Society
Northern Forest Alliance
Orchestra Forum
Oxfam America
Seattle Symphony
South Shore Mental Health Center
Women's Environment and Development Organization


Administration for Children and Families, Health and Human Services Dept. (HHS)
Arkansas, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island State Departments of Education
Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Missouri State Boards of Education
Connecticut Department of Transportation
Federal Labor Relations Authority
Federal Aviation Authority
Office of Evaluation and Inspection, HHS
Office of the Public Defender, Connecticut
New York State Board of Regents


American Association of School Administrators
Institute for Educational Leadership
National Alliance for Restructuring Education
National Association of State Boards of Education
New Hampshire Alliance for Effective Schools
Northeast Regional Education Laboratory Board of Directors

© McGonagill Associates
Photographs: Lew Jones - - - - - web site: QuantumLight