SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 36

FEATURE ARTICLES
Figure 1. Astin (1991) IEO Model.
A - Input → B - Environment → C - Outputs
I prefer to think of it like this: as an everevolving
engagement of interaction and evolution
between the input and the environment, which
then changes the output, continuously and
extensively for as long as they exist in this space
together.
Figure 2. Astin (1991) IEO Model Reimagined.
(Weaver-Douglas, J., 2021)
The Theory Itself
As evidenced by the IEO model, the relationship between a person and their lived experiences always includes the
connection and experience of the environment and the other actors in that environment. There are no islands -everything
is connected. For the Plant Theory, the plant and its care-giver are a similar mutually interconnected
balance. There is the plant, there is the care-giver, but there is also the environment the plant inhabits. In the
same way Astin's (1991) model focuses on the college experience for students, the Plant Theory focuses on the
college experience for staff. The plant is the individual professional staff member. The care-giver is the employer
(which includes direct supervisors and the department/division/office/organization itself). In my example at the
beginning of this writing, my house is the environment the plant inhabits. So the house here is the department
itself. Where Astin has his I-E-O, the Plant Theory has 3 P's: the Plant, the Place and the Plan.
The Plant
The Plant is the person. I am a plant. You are definitely a plant. We are all plants.
When deciding to care for a plant, you've got two choices:
1. You plan and prepare specifically for the plant before you buy it, via research and critical thought,
including preparation of the space, tools and conditions, prior to their inclusion into your home,
and you acquire experiences and make decisions about that space, those tools and those conditions
throughout the plant's experience; or
2. You acquire the plant you want (whether spontaneous or via intentional decision) and you bring
them back to your house, and you acquire experience and make decisions about the space, tools and
conditions after their inclusion into your home and throughout the plant's experience.
In either situation, you are still receiving a plant -- a living, existing, and growing entity that existed before
your acquisition -- that has its own specific needs for continued growth. From the moment it crosses the
threshold of your space, you are a contributing dominant element to their growth or decay. The plant comes
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SEAHO Report - Summer 2021

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