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The purpose of this section is to provide you with some suggestions on how to

make the best use of the material which follows. The first thing to notice is that

it’s been written by two distinct persons.

1.1 How to Use This Guidebook . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

1.2 What This Book Contains . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

1.3 What This Book Misses Out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

1.4 A Word About the Examples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

The first is a technician. He knows about grids, and he wants to tell you, as

clearly as possible, how you can use them. One of life’s definitive techies, he

takes the reasons for his knowledge for granted, and in order to provide clear

procedural instructions, he doesn’t stop to examine his ideas or his rationale in

any great detail. He knows his stuff, and all he cares about is to help you

understand what you’re doing with grids, as clearly as possible. He often uses

relatively short, declarative sentences, since his purpose is clear and simple

instruction. He writes like this, using the full width of the page.

The second person is a theorist. She, also, knows about grids, and has used them

extensively herself. As a result, she knows that the simple use of a procedure does

not guarantee success; indeed, she believes very strongly that simple technique,

bereft of ideas, concepts, and the reasons for doing things in a particular way, is

often misleading and occasionally dangerous. There’s no such thing as a simple

procedure, uninformed by a set of assumptions for doing things one way rather than

another, and if you’re unreflective, and don’t learn a good set of reasons, your use of

gridswill be inaccurate and, ultimately, ineffective.Because she dealsin theory, justification,

andrationale, her sentences are often awee bit longer.Shewriteslike this, in

indented text.

Occasionally, the two argue with each other in order to make a point.

Secondly, it follows that the best way of reading this book is to read it in

stages. There are five simple steps.

. Skim-read it, just running your eyes over the text as you turn the pages. See

what’s on offer and, more importantly, how it’s laid out, with text, exercises

at the end of each chapter, and answers to exercises and supplementary

information in the appendices.

. Read it from start to finish, in order. This isn’t a textbook that you can dip

into, and the various bits of technique build on each other. Take your time,

and master each section before moving on to the next.

. At the outset, you should ignore the theorist, and read only the material

written by the technician. Avoid all the indented material. Get your head

round the procedures, and focus on the examples.

. When you have grasped the bit of technique that’s involved, and perhaps

practised it on yourself only, read the indented material which accompanies

the technique.

. Don’t use the procedure with another person until you’ve read both sets of


Consequently, this book is a dialogue between two voices. It will be up to you as the

reader to put the two voices together; to make your own sense of the two sets of

information.Readinghas to be an active processif the materialwhichyou readisto be

retained, and procedures which encourage people to talk to themselves as they’re

reading are a particularly goodway of learning! (seeThomas & Harri-Augstein,1985:


Pace yourself, and don’t spend too long at any one time with this guide. It’s

not a novel that you can read in one gulp, nor is it something you can pick bits

out of. Some of the procedures may look complicated, and it may take you a

little while to get up to speed. They’re actually very straightforward, as you’ll

realise as soon as you’ve carried them out. Each one takes a bit of explaining in

written text, but as an activity in itself, is very easy – as you’ll see as soon as

you do the relevant exercise. And so, steady does it. Plan on reading a section

at a time, do the exercise(s), practise the technique, and come back to the next

section another day.

If you have a friend with whom you can spend time trying out each technique

as you learn it, that would be very helpful, though a lot of the grid activities

can be done by yourself, on yourself.

Towards the end of each chapter, you’ll find the following:

. A set of ‘Things to Do’. The best way to learn a technique is to practise it, and

the exercises under this heading provide you with the opportunity to do so.

If you want to learn how to use grids, you have to tackle each exercise at the

point in the text where it’s suggested.

. Occasionally, some suggestions for ‘Further Reading’ are provided,

highlighted where relevant.

At the very end of the book, you’ll find a set of appendices. Of these, one is

particularly comforting, and that’s Appendix 1. It provides you with the

‘Answers to Exercises’. Take them on board, look again at your own attempt at

the exercise and, when you’re happy to proceed, read on from the appropriate

part of the chapter.

The other one I want to mention here is less cuddly, but you’ll appreciate it

because it’s very practical. Appendix 7 is a ‘Summary of Grid Procedures’.

This will be your vade mecum after you’ve learnt the basic techniques. Every

procedure presented in the guide is collated here in note form, to be used as an

aide-meґmoire when you’re carrying out a grid interview and need to refresh

your memory about one of the steps. You can expect to use it a lot at first,

dispensing with it when you feel ready.

This book is meant to be entirely self-contained, and so it is, so far as the basics

of grid technique are involved. You can be up and doing without any other

reading. However, name–date references and a reference list in the usual form

are provided, so that you can develop your knowledge of the background

theory, advanced points of technique, further details on procedures, and some


You’ll need these in any case if you’re using grids to obtain empirical material

for an assessed project or dissertation that forms part of a course of study

you’re following. If so, you may have encountered repertory grids before, for

they form part of Chapter 13 of Jankowicz (2000a), a research methods

textbook for management project and dissertation work.

Finally, if you want further guidance on points of technique, resource

materials, and a gateway to additional resources, you might like to log in to

The Easy Guide to Repertory Grids website. There are further details on this at

the end of Chapter 9.