Leaders and practitioners in many places are taking stock of the growing complexities within their own experience, their organisation and the environments they are part of and affected by. Often, reflection and analysis is accompanied by an urgency for improved results. My approach to organisational transformation has developed through close involvement in this process with organisations and institutions providing people-services. I have experienced first hand many changes from the late 70's to now; for many years as a worker, then as a leader and now as a practitioner-consultant. It can take time to arrive at clear decisions about direction, purpose and values.
While I have developed my approach in the context of non-government service organisations for individuals with complex needs, my experiences in government, for-profit and private sectors have taught me that the principles and methods of small people-organisations have a universality and thus a broader application.
Throughout twenty seven years working in nine countries, a question has been steadily cooking its way to the foreground of my interest:
What conditions can encourage people to want to develop personally and in their work?
Over time, I have noticed some recurring themes in people-organisations at a crossroads, across diverse socio-economic and cultural settings. During any phase of the process, the emphasis may be on a particular aspect according to the organisation's identity, history and people:
- Historical transitions on the background - How can organisations thrive without hurting people? Healing wounds of the past is intrinsic to making progress.
- Human dignity first - Inviting those who have been hurt by oppressive systems to teach us about the way we think about systems and policies can restore dignity and respect. Handing control back to people for determining their own lives is a pivot of systems change, policy development and restructuring. Following up with individualised supports and systems that are responsive to people are essential.
- Personal mastery is essential - Self is our primary tool of perception, action and transformation. This requires taking ownership for one's lot: being in tune with one's nature, being a leader of one's own life, enjoying competence development, working with diversity in oneself and with others.
- Collective solutions for a joined-up process - Meaning, joy, effectiveness and viability is enhanced when collective awareness (experience of 'Us') taps into ingenuity and creativity and evokes ownership and responsibility-taking for solutions.
My work in an an organisation usually follows an invitation to work on a situational problem or need. Over time we work towards an understanding of simultaneously occurring realities: the formalised, linear roles and accountabilites, and experiences in the more illusive yet sensed feeling-atmosphere. We learn how these aspects are part of a bigger field-affect. Our journey leads to the uncovering of processes and structures at work in the background that are hard to grasp at first. We reflect and use our insights to make changes that are manageable, starting with small projects that can produce a fairly immediate and tangible success. People derive encouragement to continue. We determine what supports are necessary to sustain the change over time.
Integral to the success of a venture are leaders who want to take ownership for a process of development. Leaders also come to recognise the importance of self development in organisational development: greater ease and flow with unfolding events and triggers, learning to support and delegate to colleagues, gaining group awareness skills as well as problem solving competence among the people doing the work, learning to retreat and take care of oneself in times of accelerated pressure and responsibility.
I work with leaders and practitioners to:
- reflect creatively on circumstances and envision a compelling future
- increase their awareness of power and rank issues in the background, and take ownership for bringinig values and practice closer together
- develop structures and processes that affirm leadership and accountability while encouraging inclusion, co-operation and shared responsibility
- discover one's authentic leadership style and use it congruently to lead oneself, the organisation, area, department or group
- build staff development, mentoring and coaching into the culture of the organisation
- increase competence in specialised knowledge and skills
- improve administrative effectiveness
- learn how to attract, develop and sustain well suited staff
- develop partnerships with organisations, providers and individuals in a broader social context and in global movements at the frontier of contemporary thinking and innovation