By Karen Soderberg Hinchliffe:
By veteran consultant of 32 years, 28 as an organizational consultant, a student of Gestalt and Spiral Dynamics and Coaching and Creative Enterprise …but also as an American who didn’t vote for Trump
First a story: I stepped down from a Board in an organization after 4-year tenure. An elder trustee said to me on my way out “I know what your problem is” (now he had my interest) “you assume everyone else on the board is healthy and not medicated.” A year later I met him again, he asked that I consider rejoining the board, adding: “I know what the problem is with your successor.” (hmmm) “He assumes that everyone else on the board is sick and delusional.”
Storyboards of GI-OD
The Time of the Versatile, Gestalt-informed Organizational Consultant Needing Now Not One, but A Mix of Therapist, Coach, Mediator, Facilitator and Consultant Processes (Without Splitting Hairs and Without the Hierarchies and Accompanying Hubris)
Situation: That the sustained state of political harangue and shock value of the age of Trump leadership challenges me, my colleagues, our clients and the leaders with whom we are working on many fronts to wield an array of Gestalt-informed practice. Define Harangue: Strong, sometimes nasty rant; to speak to one another often for a long time in a forceful way, often in verbal tirade in which passion manifests itself as being bothered, distressed and upset by something or someone. In the US, perhaps unprecedented + some say + since the Vietnam war.
1. When the world bounces (Trump, Brexit…= how does the organizational consultant bounce with it?
2. How does a sustained state of verbal political harangue affect the work of a Gestalt-informed
a. In what manner does the client present and is it altered?
b. How does the consultant (coach, therapist, mediator…) show up?
Timing: I have been feeling the stresses of clients and colleagues alike during time of verbal harangue, as experienced, for me, at a time in the United States beginning years and accelerating and gaining momentum preceding, during and then immediately following the 2016 election and now Trump presidency. For others of you, Brexit, refugee situation, economic crisis and threats many pillars of your communities.
Supposition: This the time for the responsive, Gestalt-informed organizational consulting – and with it the versatile and “lydh rd” consultant. To guide and facilitate, inform the processes that can aid organization and its members at a time when confidence is at a low and needs rebuilding:
1/ emotions are running high, when there are heightened conditions of passion and forcefulness; unaware of projection; missing empathy…though heightened curiosity?
2/ extreme disenfranchisement, accompanying depression:
3/ high degrees of polarization; insulation
4/ figure and ground seem distorted and truths are easily obfuscated;
5/ fiscal shifts pulling away from what is planned and/or promised;
6/ hierarchy and authoritarianism replace flatness and dialogue;
In my view, not a time for us to forget ALL that we have at our disposal. In my view, the Gestalt organizational consultant is not the same as Gestalt therapist, nor of coach, nor facilitator, nor mediator, alone, but all of these. As we pay attention to the energy and its language, that we choose from an array of possibilities not a predetermined model or form, emergent with options, pulling from many modalities. Where the hubris of “I know” takes second fiddle to “let’s figure it out together”
In other words, coaching, yes, but not only coaching, at the systems and subsystem level there has to be some attempt and ability to try ideas from organizational awareness and experience, that includes but is not solely that of the individual and even family experience. Not either or but one of each to fit the circumstances better than a one size fits all.
The O consultant believes in the possibility and improvement upon the organization, just as a therapist might believe in the possibility of improvement of the situation of the person in Group or the coach believes in the possibilities for the coached and the mediator in the mediation.
The O consultant must be versatile and experienced in the organization as an important context for experimentation, and through the success and failure of other organizational practice. This versatility and use of full range will be confidence building measure (CBM) to withstand the rant of change, while change is coming.