Home Tools Internal Politics The Art of Organizational Coaching: In Search of Patterns and Variations

The Art of Organizational Coaching: In Search of Patterns and Variations

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At a second level, we find the more extended personal and organizational stories that are frequently repeated—especially offered to new employees or visitors. These stories might be about the founding of the organization, about triumphs or failures, about specific leaders and villains or enemies of the client or organization. It is not important to know whether or not the story is true, but it is important to determine what message is being conveyed or lesson learned, why this story keeps getting offered, to whom the story is being offered, and why it is being offered repeatedly.

At a third level we are likely to find fractals and sonatas being observed in the personal behavior patterns of the client and in the widely exhibited behavior patterns of those working in and with the organization.  Does your client have a routine each day when he comes to the office (or when he works from home)? Is there a certain sequence of informal or formal meetings he has each day with his staff? Why do these routines and sequences occur and what happens when the pattern is broken? Is there a common sequence of interactions that occur between your client and one or more of the other members of his organization? Gregory Bateson wrote about complimentary interactions in which the behavior of one person tends to induce the opposite behavior in the other person (for example as one person becomes more assertive, the other person becomes more submissive or passive). Alternatively, the behavior of one person tends to induce the same kind of behavior in the other person (they both get more assertive or more submissive)—leading to an escalation and eventually to a termination of the interaction. Do these interaction patterns exist in the daily life of your client and are they repeated many times with one other person or with many other people in the organization?

At the organizational level, we can readily observe behavioral patterns that often involve the actual movement of people in the organization. For example, we might observe the repeated gathering of people at a specific place in the organization. Those involved with observing social patterns (or those designing buildings and social spaces) describe “socio-petal” (as in centripetal) movement of people toward one another—the pull toward some favored meeting place. Why do they meet there and what transactions occur in these places? I am reminded of the legendary meeting of the Banians (Indian traders) underneath the spreading Banyan Trees. These traders and travelers met to converse, exchange and learn from one another—a bit like those who once met (and in some communities still meet) at the country store (or now at a McDonalds or Starbucks) to converse, exchange and learn. What is the equivalent in your client’s organization?

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