Real Change and Token Efforts

I've been working on a small inquiry into the organisational development and performance of a group of brilliantly talented individuals (I'm sure that they won't mind me saying that...;-).

They are doing well and want to do better. To be honest, that's a delightful OD brief - in contrast to the more normal symptoms of distress and failure that feature in much of what constitutes 'consulting'.

The work is relational, authentic, and is giving voice to new, shifting perspectives, bringing ideas together, convening new conversations and catalysing possibility.  I'm hoping that we will be able to dig into some of the systemic patterns that both enable and, at the same time, constrain behaviours and routines within the group.  Perhaps we will be able find vistas into new thinking and develop generative dialogues as we go...

This kind of open, exploratory intervention is so different from the common, "Hey, Steve! We're having an away day and we want you to facilitate it..." approach that often characterises requests for organisational intervention. I always push back on this kind of invitation - and then  get met with the assurance that, "We've had an underspend - so we've got some money we need to use!"

Any consultant worth their salt can run a crowd pleaser: a Grand Day Out.  And I'm always up for a laugh - sometimes that kind of thing can helpfully, if temporarily, rescue a troubled group. But if the away day means that tricky structural, relational issues are simply driven underground for a while then this kind of denial ultimately leads further into trouble.  

Oh yes, the tree.

I found this one on a walkabout from my hotel. I have a couple of these in my garden. We inherited them when we moved in.  I guess that they were good for a while but now that are huge and dominating the landscaping so this year they will be cut down leaving a big hole.  When the one in this image starts to lift the paving, block out the light and the roots trip passers-by it will suffer the same fate.  

So I guess that the kind of tokenism that meant that the tree, as a quick solution, ultimately isn't good idea for the 'landscape' of the organisation - and it's not very good for the tree either!.

Steve MarshallComment