I can’t pretend I’m not frustrated with the software community for its limited engagement with the question of organisational performance. Particularly given that organisational performance is inextricably linked with the quality of life of folks working in software and IT departments everywhere, and with the health of society more broadly too. This post explores the (simple) connection between organisational performance and Organisational Psychotherapy.
I’m using the term “performance” here more broadly than might be regarded as common (but consistent with e.g. the Wikipedia entry).
Aside: In the vocabulary of the Antimatter Principle, we define organisational performance (somewhat opaquely, to be sure) as:
“The relative impact on all the needs of all The Folks That Matter™, of meeting all the needs of all The Folks That Matter™”
For the purposes of this post, I’m using the term “organisational performance” to cover:
- Financial performance (profits, revenues, return on assets, return on investment, debt ratio, etc.)
- Shareholder value (total shareholder return, economic value added, share price, etc.)
- Sales and market share
- Customer and supplier (including employee and management) satisfaction
- Corporate Social Responsibility
- The well-being of the Core Group (probably the most crucial, yet least openly discussed)
Organisational Psychotherapy is a very simple proposition, really. Let’s lay it out and see who agrees or disagrees with the line of reasoning at any point:
- The assumptions and beliefs held in common (i.e. collectively) within an organisation drive every aspect of the behaviours of that organisation.
- The behaviours of an organisation, in toto, govern the performance of that organisation.
- To increase the performance of an organisation in any or all of the dimensions of organisational performance requires some changes in its behaviour.*
- Any and all changes in behaviour come from changes in the collective assumptions and beliefs held by the organisation.
- Organisations rarely have the competence (skills) to examine, change their collective assumptions and beliefs
- Outside intervention (i.e. the Organisational Psychotherapist) can help kick-start the organisation in its internal dialogue, introspection and acquisition of the skills necessary to examine and change its collective assumptions and beliefs.
*Note: Excluding considerations of external factors beyond the control of the organisation.
Put another way, Organisational Psychotherapy reduces the risks, costs and timescales of an organisation changing its collective assumptions and beliefs, and thereby reduces the risks, costs and timescales of improving the performance of the organisation.
Here’s a diagram illustrating the above line of reasoning:￼
Who Really Matters: The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege, and Success ~ Art Kleiner
The Five Capitals – a framework for sustainability ~ Forum For the Future article
Productivity ~ Think Different blog post