Not, not some lament about the unfairness of life. Rather, an explanation of why, these days, I choose to call myself an Organisational Psychotherapist.
I’ve spent the majority of my 30+ year career studying many “systems” of software and product development (the way the work works). And studying the relationships those systems have to the organisations (a.k.a. systems) they serve. I’ve come to hold some considered opinions about the nature of the problems that most organisations (still) face:
- Just about all organisations are much less effective than they could be.
- Their relative ineffectiveness is a consequence of the beliefs these organisations collectively hold about the nature of work.
- These collective beliefs generally go entirely unexamined.
- Left to their own devices, organisations are unlikely to devote attention to examining these collective beliefs.
Complementing these opinions, I have some observations about human beings, as individuals and as groups:
- People generally do not act on, nor deeply learn from, received advice.
- Very occasionally, advice may trigger someone or some group to go find out (experiment) for themselves.
- Behavioural changes go hand in hand with changes in assumptions and beliefs.
- Most often, advice can rob people of their ownership of a problem, reducing the chances of their choosing to find out for themselves.
- Canned, labelled and pre-packeged solutions offer a crutch to the unengaged and disinterested, substituting for curiosity, inquiry, and deep learning, and exacerbating learned helplessness.
- Only deep learning (of e.g. governing principles) can afford the possibility of long-term, sustainable change.
Putting these things together, I long ago gave up selling advice for a living. (You might recognise that role as something many choose to call “consulting”).
For years I felt comfortable in the role of coach. Until that too became obviously of little help to most of those on the receiving end. Particularly, as is so often the case in so-called Agile coaching, where those receiving the coaching have no say in the choice of coach or their own part in the whole sorry affair.
And so I’ve come to the role – and stance – of the therapist. As in:
“A person who helps people deal with the mental or emotional aspects of situations by talking about those aspects and situations.”
I find it meets my needs, in that I can help those who seek it to find meaningful connections with themselves and each other, and to see more of their innate potential realised in the context of “work”. And it affords me the opportunity to do something different to the norm.
So now I don’t tout, sell or give advice. I don’t coach. I just try to listen, hold the space, empathise, do what I can to relate to people as fellow human beings, and walk together for a while, as we each pursue our journeys.