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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Expertise. The first hypothesis is embedded in the daily operations of the client or organization. What is the product or service being rendered by the client or organization and what competencies, perspectives and attitudes are required to produce or serve? For instance, I have often found that members of health care departments replicate a pattern of wounding and healing one another. The wounding can take place through verbal hostility, miscommunication, or the running of rumor mills.  The wounding is acknowledged, feelings are expressed and shared, comfort and empathy is offered, apologies are sometimes offered, and business goes on as usual. Great expertise (skill and knowledge) is manifest in both the diagnosis and treatment of the wound (in this case psychological). One would expect this expertise, given that this is what health care staff members do every day of their life in working with “real” patients. I find that educators get into similar cycles of ignorance, teaching and relearning, and that production workers establish a deeply-rutted routine that expands well beyond their work on the assembly line. I can produce a much longer list. In each case, it is the expertise that is needed to do one’s job that is applied in the creation of the need for this expertise beyond the confines of the product or service being generated—and this expanded use of the expertise creates personal and organizational patterns that are resistant to change.

Primacy: A second hypothesis concerns the early career of the client or the early life of the organization. Which patterns were established initially that continue to operate? We know from the long history of psychoanalytic practice that our responses to childhood events continue to impact on our behavior patterns as adults. We also know from systems theory that the initial conditions faced by any system establish persistent patterns in the system. For example, the wave form established in one region of the ocean (produced by an earthquake or storm) will be replicated all the way across the ocean in a far distant sea and on a far distant coastline. We can even carry this analysis a step further by pointing to the so-called entanglement of quantum particles that leads to the replication of specific behaviors in two particles that were once together but now operate at great distances from one another.  This powerful phenomenon is often identified as primacy—the sustained impact of an initial condition or event.

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