People and Business Change (Ching Ching) Matters – Has your teacher appeared?

December 13, 2012

I have worked on a number of change management programs on behalf of companies and as a therapist and coach with individuals who are trying to create change in their lives too. As I also teach and lecture in the subject too I am always seeking ways in which to link my management-therapy and tutoring experience. In education terms this would be called deep learning, whereby the learner is seeking to add meaning into the material they are studying.

The other kinds of learning are surface (glean the minimum amount to, say, pass an exam) and strategic, which is not as glamorous as it sounds and normally involves planning carefully the approach to study and allocate the time – planned might be a better description. But I digress……

My main point is that company change programs could be considered very similar to personal change programs, and just maybe the former would work much better if companies paid attention to the amount of personal change that is often needed in order for a business to succeed. The enlightened ones might even recognise that constant personal change in their employees (an iterative process) would create the business change they need, before they need it (or ideally just in time) and without the big bust up.

I will illustrate my point by drawing down on Balogun and Hope’s model, which sets out the seven aspects of the context of change management issues:

a. Time available – most companies, as alluded to above, approach change in a rush. Normally the change is dictated to by some outside pressure, stakeholders who might include shareholders, customers or the government. They are often acting from a place of crises and that is the way that many clients first approach me. In crises.

Clients in crises can be quickly supported, which is the benefit of approaching a therapist trained in brief therapy (and coaching) solution methods and can find their immediate issues resolved quickly. This is the surface level of processing.

Some, the more enlightened of course, come more strategically minded, planning with a vision of where they want to be. Coaching supports that too. Some of course want to go “deep” and learn fully about themselves. Some call or consider this to be of a spiritual nature. Who knows if that is so, it matters not. Because sometimes……

b. Preservation is essential -there will be aspects of the organisation or individual that need to hold on and possibly built up or upon. If change management processes can be likened to ‘rites of passage’ then being able to spot what a needs holding on to, and ideally building it in advance of the change are essential. Strategic planning is as relevant for the individual as it is for the organisation! And part of that preserving involves the corollary…..

c. Diversity. Organisation has whole policies talking about how they ‘value diversity’ and that has a payback. It is interesting to note that the English Ash is likely to be more robust than the European species because of its diversity, it mixes of ancestors. Is that not the very essence of what it is to be English, this mongrel race?

For clients the kind of diversity I would coach and counsel would be around having a wide range of experiences and seeking out varied onions and debates. That always widens our horizons and of course our……..

d. Capabilities, which are the resources that we have at our disposal to make the change that is necessary in our lives. The greater the stock of resources that we develop and foster, the greater will be our ability to respond to change, successfully taking advantage of opportunities.
This why companies should pay attention to their stock of capabilities, which of course they often call their “Human Resources” because that is where spare…….

e. Capacity comes from. No organisation should (although many do) endeavour to put into place a change program unless they can resource it properly. For them spare capacity often means allotting a project team, a project manager and the suitable budget too. Most dispense with this and then wonder why they fail and their stock of personal resources and often stakeholders, like customers, become depleted. That is due to poor……..

f. Management. Without the authority and power to drive through the changes they want, managers ill fail and so will their organisations.

Similarly it is not unusual to find that clients have come to me because they have been told they need to by another – this is disempowering because as they old adage asks – how many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but the light bulb has to really want to change!

And that is what happens. Firstly the light bulb (aka Client) does not want to change and frequently, it is the commissioner of the change (some greater power than they are!) has directed it. In my experience it is the commissioners that are in at least equally need of the change.

So that change is often forced upon the unsuspecting and those that are going to do the work namely the…….

g. Workforce is not ready for it. Unreadiness is not a good state with which to plan change. It will result in, at best, surface learning only. Another adage says the when the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear. Maybe, but which would also be making the steps, seeking out our teachers on behalf of our organisation, ourselves and if we are commissioners, those we care for to prepare for change and be healthy.

What does being healthy mean; having in place a (corporate or individual) personality that is self-directed, relational and goal directed, centrered on the present, curious, persevering and resilient – that is having a flexible, resourceful and persistent – approach to challenges. That’s what I teach as a Manager, Coach, Tutor and Counsel.

Has your teacher appeared yet?


Firewalk, Vision Quest and Sweat Lodge – Lions and Tigers and Bears! Oh my!

December 3, 2012

Much like the fabled Emerald City, The Clophill Centre is known as the place of “Wow” and many have been wooed by both its place and sense of community, both of which meet in the teaching and healing the facilitators bring. Of course, sometimes that means facing the lions, tigers and bears!

The Clophill tradition of teaching and healing continued (and lions tigers and bears where met) during the recent spirited weekend where, led by Richard Diss, Sheelagh Keddie and Keith Abrahams, a group of questers came together, bonded and in order to set off down their own yellow brick road!

Unlike poor Dorothy, winded and dumped into oblivion to find her guides and confidants, the questers were met with Richard’s congeniality, the perfect host and the bonding started in a supportive circle, where hopes, dreams, fears and hurts were confidentially, confidently and compassionately shared.

From that safe place in community, the questers were left to explore, find and prepare their place on the land; the place that would hold them over night whilst they faced their lions and tigers – their personal fears and challenges. Together they fashioned a natural gateway, an exit from the tameness of community and entrance into the wild of the land.

But none of us can leave without ever having arrived. And we can arrive if we have been successful to a great extent. Invariably “moving on” involves letting go, not just letting go of that which “no longer serves us”, but also of the stuff that has served us well, could still serve us well, but keeps us limited from a greater potential, we tend to grow when we are challenged and adopt new ways. In stepping home Dorothy had to leave the comfort of the magic shoes behind – they were only borrowed anyway!

So the questers were invited, led by Sheelagh weaving her magic, to celebrate all they had and achieved with a dance around and with the Fire. As they danced and celebrated and their energy matched the burning coals, they become light and focused; they gathered their intent and walked bare foot across the hot coals! Whooping and cheering, releasing and freeing! They had much to celebrate together! And yet they knew that the silence of the night would come. Dorothy also had to leave Scarecrow, Tinman and Lion behind.

As the coals died, they left quietly and gathered together, in silence, in circle. As the darkness deepened with their breathing, they become reflective. The anticipation grew as one by one, alone they left the circle, walked through their exit and out to the land, to take their place, like Dorothy in the balloon…

Their place, where they sat with themselves and nature listened, reviewed and re-wrote their personal histories. That story is theirs to tell – or not if they choose – how could Dorothy have told anybody her yellow brick journey?
That mattered little whilst just as the light of dawn appeared. A lighter look, a more positive step and they strode back to community, returning through the exit in re-entrance, to be welcomed triumphantly with a song and embrace – Keith made a great auntie Em!

Then from the cold of the night to the warmth of the hearth, the questers found themselves once again in the darkness, but this time bearlike in the community of the sweat lodge. How could they share their story? In the warmth and witness of their clan they could share and tell their story. The Hero returns, healed and stronger!

A brief summary like this cannot do justice to the full gamut of the experience of the team of questers, but all of them reported profound and beautiful experiences, and have made lifelong friends, including with themselves too!