An introduction to phenomenology in the workplace

Phenomenology is a concept from one of the many theories and academic texts on the subject of business management, and most of these see the discipline as a subset of social science. By this, I mean they look at sociological theories, assumptions and principles and then apply them to the business setting, presenting the conclusions […]

Gestalt change management

If you are involved in any kind of change management within your organisation, gestalt change management may be an approach you have stumbled across at one time or another. Gestalt theory suggests that as humans, we are constantly trying to create order and restore balance when something seems off-kilter. At its root, this stems from […]

Curing functional fixedness (Part Two)

Karl Duncker’s experiment demonstrating Functional Fixedness, which I described last time, has a good deal of relevance for any company trying to develop a breakthrough product. Most of the time, a talented group of people fail to make headway not because of a lack of intelligence or imagination but because their talents are confined by […]

Curing functional fixedness (Part One)

Curing functional fixedness (or, how to turn a desk into a magic castle). Small children are extraordinary inventive in using everyday objects to augment their imaginative play. A large box becomes a space capsule; a table, a blanket and a couple of chairs become an enchanted castle. “Growing up” tends to bury this ability, making […]

Why difference ranks with diversity in organisations

Diversity in organisations needs to include intra-personal difference and a tolerance for constructive conflict. If an organisation’s future depends on its leadership pipeline and its staff’s talents, the right lenses for spotting potential really have to be in place. Last time, I suggested that diversity in organisations that didn’t force people to become clones of corporate identity […]

Why choose Gestalt organisational development?

When leaders want to make their organisations more efficient in realising strategic goals, many of them resort to behaviourist, carrot-and-stick approaches. However, there’s a big problem: despite all the scientific-sounding talk of “measurable” KPIs and clearly defined goals, many of these approaches fail to deliver. Most human beings dislike feeling manipulated in some way. But core to […]

Management, uncertainty and complexity (Part One)

In the 1990s, when academics and business leaders first began discussing the idea of applying complexity science to organisations and businesses, their enthusiasm failed to be picked up by the majority of managers. Managers were resistant to seeing the world as it really was (i.e. infinitely complex), preferring instead to wish this issue away in order […]

What to do when your decision making mojo deserts you, Part Two

Pause. Reflect. Choose. Three words packed with potential. It’s my contention that when coaching executives to pause, reflect and choose, you’re not teaching them anything new. You’re bringing previously active and now-dormant knowledge back into the crisp light of consciousness. It may seem counter-intuitive but when the pressure is on and you need to do […]

The art of managing people who are smarter than you 2

Today’s managers can’t afford the arrogant “I’m-the-all-knowing-boss” narcissism of an earlier generation, a stance always laced with the fear of humiliation should the inevitable pockets of ignorance be exposed. The art of management today is about drawing out the best of team members’ talents, knowing every detail of their expert knowledge is unnecessary. Consulting with […]

Rivalry and reptile brains: converting rivals into allies, Part One

What’s the most effective way of converting rivals into allies in the workplace? Most executives who find themselves at the sharp end of a rivalry will turn to reason, presenting new facts, logical arguments and fresh incentives for a more collaborative relationship. Sadly, these initiatives rarely succeed. Research from Professor Brian Uzzi of Northwestern University’s […]