Organisational development and the role of diversity, Part Two

Last time, I began delineating the need for and role of diversity diversity in the process of organisational development. Given that none of us can be entirely free of presupposition, the task of cultivating a bias-free organisation may seem like an impossible one. However, without resorting to fairy tale idealism, I think there are some […]

Organisational development and diversity, Part One

Linking organisational development and diversity may seem incongruous, sort of linking goat’s milk and lettuce. However, it’s a highly salient relationship. Organisational development aims to enable organisations to navigate the changes necessary for survival and growth in changing times. While obvious change will inevitably sponsor resistance and fear amongst the workforce, certain organisational characteristics can […]

How to prevent conversational meltdowns: Part two

In the first part of this series, I described the cooling effects on an overheating conversation of taking responsibility for one’s role in verbal escalations. Here are some other powerful methods of preventing conversational fires to add to your repertoire. Social scientist Joseph Grenny perceptively notes that people lose control when they feel threatened. If […]

Conversational meltdowns and how to prevent them: Part one

Most of us have either witnessed or found ourselves involved in work-based conversations that suddenly seem to erupt into verbal pyrotechnics and turn into conversational meltdowns. Other times, there are conversations that are intended to be about important work-related matters, but everyone in attendance nervously knows that the interlocutors involved have a history of antagonism […]

Command and control to complexity theory (Part 2)

In the aftermath of the 9/11 atrocity, once it became clear that the perpetrators were using hijacked aeroplanes to attack buildings, it became a matter of national security to have every plane in US airspace land at the nearest airport. However, no procedure or process existed to permit this to happen. Researchers, eager to devise […]

Harnessing the infinite: from command and control to complexity theory

Human teams are enigmatic entities: they collaborate on shared aims and goals at one level, and randomly reshape or reform those very aims and goals at another. Welcome to complexity theory. For managers, this can be something of a headache. Getting a project wrapped up on time and on budget appears to require disciplined oversight […]

Positive Psychology and the problem of the ‘not positive’ (Part 1)

Positive psychology has become the focus of considerable critical attention of late – a mark, perhaps, of its growing stature. However, I think there is a misconception in some of these critiques – the assumption that positive psychology necessarily excludes experiences we might designate ‘negative’, or at least ‘not positive’. Positive psychology is not about […]

Good questions create better worlds: Appreciative Inquiry (Part 1)

People often ask good questions; but that they ask questions is rather less important than how they ask them. Case Western Reserve University Professor David Cooperrider puts what is at stake when asking a question rather deftly: “We live in the world our questions create.” Cooperrider is a pioneer of ‘appreciative inquiry’, which holds that good questions are […]

Essentials of effective business coaching (Part 2)

MIT professor Edgar Schein suggests the open inquiry approach I concluded with last time is one of three modes of inquiry; he calls it ‘pure inquiry’). We move on from pure inquiry to what Schein calls ‘diagnostic inquiry’ – focusing in closely on specific elements of the coachee’s story. This should not be confused with […]

Ten tips for effective team coaching (Part Two)

I’ll resume my tips for effective team coaching here with a further five core tips that shouldn’t be neglected. Know your non-verbal behaviour habits. Concentrate on staying as physically composed as possible during team coaching. Coaches need to be aware of habitual non-verbal behaviours. As systems theorists have long understood, all non-verbal behaviour is simultaneously […]