The Living Organisation :

Gestalt Informed

Awareness, Choice and Responsibility

Beeing aware of and taking responsibility for our own part in what is happening, then integrating this with new behaviour and different forms of action flowing from such awareness is a strong and choiceful position.

Individuals taking new action to engage with others in more straightforward and meaningful ways that get to the heart of what really matters, is the relational core of organisational change.

Stronger, more robust interactions between people enable clearer thinking, better decisions and crisper action.

Engaging with the Whole System (Symptoms and Patterns)

When I am called to fix a clearly identified “problem”, it can be tempting to say yes to you as the potential Client in the early stages of the engagement. However, my experience is that holding some space to explore what patterns of behaviour might underly the presenting “problem,” is a key Consulting role to obtain a long-term solution.

  • Susan the Director believes that Robin as Team Leader is preventing any meaningful access for her to the technical team. Robin is involved in this pattern, but Susan does not notice her own role of choosing to go with this arrangment, rather than confronting Robin to change it.
  • The organisational success story of an SME manufacturer presents a compelling case for investors but prevents the technical team from sharing their problems in wider technical forums which may hold answers for them.
  • If Mary and Bert are in conflict, are they the first pair of people to be stuck in this way, or does there always seem to be a pair of people in conflict in this team?
  • Bob struggles to get his voice heard in the team. Is it the team’s job to give him more space (as Bob believes) or Bob’s job to be more energetic in claiming more space for his views?

All behaviours and outcomes are co-created and are the result of complex interactions between team members, the leader(s), the organisational purpose, context and culture.

What is this Change Thing?

I really want to change some aspect of how I think and behave. However somewhat paradoxically, the more I strive to change it the more it stays the same. Sound familiar? Gestalt thinking holds that change flows from fully acknowledging and integrating all of our experience rather than trying to fight our way through, over or beyond it.

Beisser suggested that there is a constant struggle between the poles of what is and what should be, between how things actually are right now and how we might want them to be. Our work as consultants is to support all parts of the organisation in staying interested in both i.e. what is happening right now, and, the excitement that has us imagining something different.

If I have struggled for years to clear the paperwork, no amount of internal or external chastisement is likely to get me clearing my desk with ease. Alternatively, really acknowledging the part of me that resists doing so and noticing that this pattern does in some creative way actually serve me (e.g. I always have some tidying to do first which allows me to postpone the really key work which I find scary because I don’t feel in control of it) , whilst also acknowledging that having things more organised would be so much more enjoyable for me, can support me in arranging a new way of working that integrates this pattern (rather than continuing to deny it) and also gets the paperwork done more easily.

“Change occurs when one becomes what he is, not when he tries to become what he is not.” (Arnold Beisser, The Paradoxical Theory of Change.)

  • A Coaching Client tends to stay out of relationships and make key decisions on her own which is causing problems with her boss in the Exec. With a fuller awareness of this pattern and the ways in which it serves her, she starts to experiment with “leaning in,” more to relationships and exploring and making decisions with others.
  • Following a facilitated workshop the team report they are more fully aware of their responsibilities and how hard they find decision-making and that admitting this to each other, somewhat paradoxically, is making it easier.