The glossary below does not pretend to be exhaustive nor define the everyday meaning of an arbitrary list of words. It attempts to be a limited resource for executive and team coaches by proposing a linguistic learning experience. But beware, this glossary covers but a small part of the professional context of "systemic coaching" as practiced with individual and executive clients, team coaching and organization coaching.
The proposed definitions may also often lead from one entry to another as each word's definition can better be grasped by understanding the larger cultural context in which it is used. To apprehend "systemic" coaching, it is therefore advised to read all the entries in this glossary. To do this, the best strategy is of course to proceed in a haphazard, emerging and non linear fashion in keepting with the content.
Examples: Sky Alliance and Sky Team, which regroup a handful of airline companies that remain autonomous competitors, except when they share destinations and other predefined resources and means (remember, however that Air France and KLM are also part of Air France Group). Car makers also often create limited alliances to develop common platforms or car parts, while remaining cuthroat competitors on the market.
Knowing how to set high ambitions in the absence of means is an integral part of a leader’s characteristics, as opposed to a manager who much more reasonably sets goals that correspond to the potential of his or her available means (with a small safety margin for personal security).
To resume, a manager sets objectives in keeping with the perceived potential of available means, while a leader or (visionary) will mobilize the entourage to find or develop the apparently unavailable means to achieve a motivating ambition.
The expression ''to be an authority'' reminds us however that etymologically, the word is kin to ''author'', with a meaning that calls for the respect of the letter (written word) and the spirit of a contractual approach, This differentiates the word ''authority'' from the concept of « power ».
In this dimension, the concept of ''authority'' may correspond to the influence of a leader who inspires respect and who’s stature rests on credibility, reputation or prestige.
It is of little use to run after one’s autonomy (as one may run after one’s time) as the substance is an innate given to all individuals.
It is of little use to claim one’s ''right'' to autonomy (as one may claim the right to health), as one already has it (except of course, if one is chasing or claiming it).
Autonomy is in fact an innate and free product that one may use or not use (and sometimes loose, when so we choose ). It may be asked for but being a given, it can never be given to another (except in obvious cases of paradoxical subordination).
By definition, since we act according to our (positive or negative) beliefs, and since we perceive the results of our actions through the filter of our beliefs, these are self-validating or ''self-fulfilling''.
Physiologically in fact, what we ''perceive'' is a mental construction (entirely created by the brain) based on a choice of input originating from our senses. Consequently, one can only perceive personal translations or interpretations of the environment. Each person's day to day ''reality'' therefore consists in living and growing within a more or less limiting or permissive self-validating personal belief system.
A coach's work often rests on transactional competencies that aim to help individual and collective clients question and transform their self-confirming and limiting beliefs, and build others that they find potentially more satisfactory and performing.
Linguistically, note that when saying ''I believe that...'' someone will express a mere thought they are willing to question, and when saying ''I think that...'' they will express a belief they will not readily abandon.
Boundaries also offer the environment (including the consultant or coach) a number of health and performance indicators of the system within.
Example: it is useful to observe an organization's (or team's) boundary management to evaluate it's coherence, rigor or rigidity, openness, efficiency, transparency, capacity to communicate, to develop, etc.
Obviously, all this information is also perceived, interpreted and exploited by the system's immediate environment.
A transformational growth process that consists in completely changing one's frame of reference to create a completely new reality that in turns permits new perspectives and the resolution of problems that were previously considered insurmountable.
Process often implemented in organizations to radically reduce lead time, develop unequalled measurable quality or increase results by double digit leaps. There are numerous strategies and methodologies to accompany breakthrough dynamics in the professional world.
Breakthrough processes help accompany individuals, teams and organizations define and achieve new qualitative and quantitative ambitions that they would otherwise have perceived as unrealistic.
Positive circularity privileges intelligent reactive movement at the expense of security and predictability (which privilege control).
For example in teams: Between all members (without exception), good circularity corresponds to a rapid and continuous sharing of power, territory, resources, information, responsibility, energy, etc. while remaining resolutely focused on action and results.
Positive circularity is an excellence indicator that reveals the existence of responsible transversality within a performing network system. The more there is positive circularity within any system, the more it capitalizes on potential added value to be obtained from the interfaces of its constituting elements.
Negative circularity is synonymous to chaos, often accompanied by noise in non-performing systems.
Not to be confused with other close professions such as consulting, training, therapy, and other help relationships. Not to be confused with professions focused on comfort or health recovery either.
Coaching originates from the world of sports where extreme competition creates demanding athletes who ask themselves how to develop their own means and internal resources to radically increase their own performance.
Coaching approaches are today developped to achieve breakthough results in all personal and professional arenas of life.
If the art of coaching consists in facilitating a client's performance development (without getting in the way of the ball or bat), it is different from a trainer approach, more focused on the acquisition and practice of new efficient content and methodologies.
If various theoretical knowledge in various fields (T.A., NLP, psychology, finance, medicine, etc.) and /or experience in other related professions (therapy, management, sales, psychoanalysis, etc.) will always be helpful to enlarge the competencies of a coach, his or her practice stands within a completely original frame of reference and rests on a specific set of tools.
To become a coach, it is therefore recommended to get training in a certified organization, pass a personal certification exam in a system unrelated to that school (to avoid conflict of interests), adhere to one or more professional organizations for coaches, be supervised and obtain recognition from your clients and market (that are not present or future coaches).
Consequently, ''coincidence'' as a concept is in no way kin to ''chance'' but is much closer to the notion of synchronicity, so dear to Jung .
In a more practical way, it is also useful to know that exact sciences such as quantum mechanics use the concept of coincidence to replace the often inexact perception of linear causality (where a cause leads to an effect) to underline the circular causality of our day to day reality: I think therefore I am therefore I think therefore... In fact the two coincide and it would be judicious to replace ''therefore'' by ''while'' or ''and''.
Example: Is one's personal stress a ''result'' of the accumulation of unsolved problems, or the accumulation of unsolved problems the ''consequence'' of personal stress? For a number of people, the two are coincidental or concommitant.
In day to day individual or team coaching practice, perception of concomittance or coincidence within a frame of reference of circular causality is an interesting systemic approach that can permit the emergence of different or creative solutions.
It is commonly observed that a person or system will share much more vital information within a closer relational circle and much less with strangers. Consequently, information confidentiality is a indicator of one’s commitment towards a given person or a system.
Example: the sharing of vital information with « foreigners » can be punishable by death penalty, for espionage in times of war, or by prison for such practices as “insider trading” in times of peace.
It is also generally accepted and often contractually specified that confidentiality applies as an ethical rule to such professionals as coaches, consultants, doctors and lawyers and all others who’s access to a system’s inside information could deeply affect its safety or survival.
In communication fields, confrontation is the art of communicating perceived incoherence between someone's promises and actions, or more precisely, perceived non-respect of an explicit or tacit contract.
A common misuse of ''confrontation'' is when one uses it to justify unsolicited criticism of another's behavior in the absence of any tacit or explicit contract.
A effective confrontation can therefore include a reminder of the tacit or explicit ''violated'' contract, a precise description of the occurrence of violation and of that violation's consequences and finally a reasonable request for future change or reparation.
Observation: When a person or system expresses that they are confused and ''can't understand what is going on'' within a given group or team, he or she is actually expressing the existence of that collective system's confusion. Consequently, he or she is the least confused.
Normally, that will not stop all the other members of the system from giving lengthy and contradictory explanations to attempt to draw the person back into the prevailing chaos.
Consequently, ''search for consensus'' is often an informal and inefficient apparently peer-oriented process which, in the name of a communitarian approach, often seems to serve the interests of specific people, and/or of conservative or protectionist clans.
Generally, ''consensus seeking'' as a manipulative approach is possible in systems where basic operating rules and procedures are neither clearly defined nor implemented. This will favor ''reasonable'' or conservative decisions and the status quo and preserve general comfort.
When difficult decisions (centered on fundamental change or real performance development) are to be made within systems, it will often be useful to differenciate between :
-the necessary consulting processes implemented prior to decision making, and
-the statutory decision-making process (clearly defined in the organization's legal statutes or constitution) which normally stops all discussion.
A conspiracy is assimilated to an original and mobilizing passionate collective project, which would be underplayed or even kept silent rather that blatantly marketed.
Some negative souls consider that conspiracies are nothing but a form of immature rebellious doomed-to-fail unrealistic dream or activity, in as much as they generally escape control and grow on the periphery of mainstream consciousness and established order.
When a conspiracy takes the form of a collective aspiration (or an innovating and motivating organizational project), and when it is conceived and implemented by a large number of people, it can move mountains.
The usual game related to a contractual approach consists in using the initial contract wording to later attempt to corner a partner into implementing a clause which no longer serves his or her motivation or best interest.
A contract is only valid as long as the contracting partners all wish to continue respecting its spirit and objectives. If that is not the case, it will transform itself into NYGISOB (''Now I've got you, SOB'') and/or ''Cornered''. (manipulation games first defined by Eric Berne in Transactional Analysis).
It is interesting to note that a contract-developing process is the positive equivalent of those games, but in a win-win posture (or life position in T.A.).
All that being said, numerous people and groups manifest difficulty in respecting contracts they have knowingly signed, and position themselves as victim of circumstances, cornered by engagements they hadn't previously perceived as possibly constraining.
It is often considered that a ''good'' contract will provide all parties with the perception that they equally share its gains (or losses) while working towards a common goal.
Beware, it is often very difficult for a person originating from a particular collective system to define with precision that same system's culture. It is indeed difficult if not illusionary to attempt to comprehend what comprehends you.
Consequently, care must be given not to confuse the ''active'' culture of a system as it is perceived by that system's external environment and its own ''verbal culture'' which covers a more conceptual and usually promotional self-definition. Closer to a marketing operation, a system's ''verbal culture'' defines its self-promoting attempts to list positive defining criteria with the objective of elaborating an elating collective identity. Example: ''we value and promote our personnel'', or ''this is the land of freedom''.
It could be useful to define a system's culture by measuring criteria as perceived by the external environment in the same way as we define a personality by the way an individual is perceived through the prism of differentiating measurable behavior.
The decision making process is one of the main defining characteristic of formal systems. Within an organization, this process is clearly defined and written in its legal statutes and generally gains in being respected. Consequently, a well defined and implemented decision making process differentiates an efficient team or network from an informal group or loose network.
In organizations, a decision is an individual, team or collective engagement to influence or change the course of perceived reality or to modify the future.
A decision making process often includes several steps. The act of deciding is generally preceded by a preliminary study which aims to make a possible decision's effects as predictable as possible. Generally the formulation of the decision needs careful attention as it's subsequent communication to the environment. Finally, a decisions needs to implemented and followed up with as least as much energy and care as the preliminary study.
It is generally admitted that a complete and precise decision should at minimum include a clear description of the expected results of a determined action (what?), the people involved, at minimum as pilots (whom?) and the time frame or deadline for completion (for when?), if it is not to be considered wishful thinking.
It generally consists in claiming that bosses should at last do something about the fact that they are always responsible to do something.
It has become obvious that much as for ''responsibilities'', if delegation can be taken, it can never be given.
Dialogue has for root dia that means « through » and logos for the « verb » or the « word ». Beyond a simple communication which consists in sharing information, a dialogue is a verbal exchange that aims to create new meaning co-created by the partners at hand.
According to Bohm, physicist a « dialogue » is a fluid verbal exchange between partner that aims to facilitate, through conversation, the emergence of new shared meaning that goes beyond preceeding knowledge.
The bad habit of defending personal or cultural opinions and their underlying frames of reference is generally what keeps us from developing real dialogue. Fundamentally, coaching is an art that rests on dialogue in conversation to failitate the natural appearance of new solutions that rest on new frames of reference. Coaching does not rest on ''discussing'' that favor verbal power plays to convince one or the other partner in arelationship between competitive experts.
In systems analysis, trusting emergence is a strategy that rests on the confidence (and self confidence) that a n unexpected solution will appear. This approach is contrary or opposed to ''planning'' which rests on attempts to control and direct events and ultimately favors reassuring and less creative predictability.
Considering that by principle, coaching rests on an absolute confidence that the client is able to grow and solve his or her own issues, it is by excellence an approach that favors a fundametal trust on emerging solutions.
Also the strategy supposes that the coach is self-confident so as not to project personal feelings of doubt on the client.
Saying: ''Jump, and the net will appear.
In systems analysis, strategies that favor emerging solutions rest on trust in oneself, in others and in the environment, trust in active individual and collective intelligence, etc.
An ''emergent'' approach is consequently contrary or opposed to ''planning'' which rests on centralized control and favors reassuring and less creative predictability.
Saying: ''Jump, and the net will appear.
By the fact that it rests on an absolute trust on the client's capacity to self-develop or even self-transform, coaching very specifically favors strategies that support emerging solutions. These usually invite themselves only after the coaching process is well under way. Obviously, the strategy that consists in slowly meandering towards emerging solutions rests on a coach's self-trust and self-confidence, or surely his or her doubts will be projected on the client.
Note that since expectations are expressed within a specific and often limiting frame of reference, they are formulated as a attempt to confirm it. If a client's initial expectations express discomfort or a real motivation to change, their formulation may also manifest a desire to resist change and preserve an other-wise important pre-existing frame of reference.
Consequently, beyond initial expectations, coaching and consulting work consists in helping the emergence of fundamental client issues to help a more radical transformation of frame of reference.
From then on, coaching simply consists in accompanying clients in a practical implementation of their transformational process.
This phenomena is at the origin of the ''Larsen'' effect, when sound electronically loops around in a circular fashion between a microphone and speakers. A ''Larsen'' effect is also observed in defensive human relationships when a feedback is given on the quality of a prior feedback, which itself concerned a preceding feedback, etc. It is generally observed that in those occurrences, communication does not evolve much, if at all.
In communication, feedback content concerns received information reiterated as it was perceived by a receptor or observer who is theoretically positioned as non influential or '''neutral'' in the way he or she delivers content.
During feedback sessions, there often occurs a debate concerning the valid positive or negative quality each can project on emitted or received information, which usually initiates endless ''Larsen'' effects.
On this point, it is generally recognized and accepted that a 50/50 ratio is best between the positive and negative content (emitted or perceived) in productive and training contexts. This ratio is indeed the most realist as most qualities intrinsically have their ''shadow'' or negative area.
On the point of ''quality'' feedbacks, it is also generally recognized that individuals and systems expect to receive from others what they do not know how to offer themselves.
Whatever the case may be, feedback invariably only concern past actions and communication. It is the equivalent of a description of what one perceives in a rear-view mirror. Not always useful as to the road that lies ahead.
Consider proposing occasional ''feed-forward'' statements or advice on the future for example: ''I suggest you slow down to prepare for the curve coming up ahead''.
Concerns monetary resources, a more or less fluid (liquidities) prime material input which is considered as essential to get things done.
In our organizational context and much in the same manner as time (''time is money''), finances principally serve as ''nourishment'' to ''projects''.
Good money (or financial) management is therefore not a goal in itself but an essential means to nourish people and projects so as to ensure their growth and development, if not just plain subsistence.
Note that just like water, money ''flows'', ''sleeps'', ''freezes'' (like some assets), ''evaporates'', provokes ''bubbles'', etc.
To conclude, and to ensure the success (if not the survival) of all systems, it is useful to pay particular attention to the excellence of its financial management.
A ''Game'' is a non-conscious dramatic strategy by which a person or a group participate in an interaction (series of transactions) that has a predictably negative conclusion or payoff for all the concerned parties (including the occasional ''unwilling'' observer).
For each participant, this repetitious and apparently sterile interaction permits the confirmation of a negative frame of reference or world view, the validation of an unproductive life script, the avoidance of personal responsibility, the achievement of indirect goals such as getting attention, structuring social time with drama, etc.
In organizations, it is generally admitted that a very large amount of energy (more than 50%) is uselessly spent within political “influence” and ”power” strategies which could often be qualified as games.
Consequently, a group is an informal collective system, therefore not a team nor a network (although sometimes, it may be really difficult to tell one from the other).
In organizations, a ''group'' sometimes designates a legally and financially bound ensemble of organizations which each actively tries to preserve its own identity and independence.
Some of these groups could develop to become much more performing operational ''systems'' by creating added value in other than purely financial dimensions.
The holistic or ''holographic'' approach is relatively close to a genetic model by which the structure and interfaces within one same organizational system are sufficiently reproduced to the identical to be recognizable and even predictable.
-Observe a recruitment or purchasing process and its results and you will learn all about the internal interfaces of the concerned organization.
-Observe the processes and results of a team meeting for an hour and you will know how that team works it manages itself in general and/or how it manages its projects.
-Observe the processes and results of an executive team during four hours and you will be able to make a effectiveness and performance diagnosis of the organization it leads over a full year.
Beyond the simple observation of almost identically reproduced phenomena within a same organizational system, the holistic approach permits the conceptual and practical elaboration of ''viral'' interventions which can provoke thorough system transformation in record time.
An illness is consequently a non-verbal expression of ''ill-being'' manifested though indirect symptoms or a form of ''body language''.
For a systemic consultant or coach, symptoms and other such manifestations of client-system malfunction are often very clear expressions of a profound motivation to transform one's ''interior''.
Often, individual or collective clients that formulate coaching expectations ''to help develop competencies'' are motivated by a feeling of imposture accompanied by lack of self confidence. These are linked to a perceived gap between acquired competencies and the needs and issues of a new and different professional context.
Feelings of imposture are also well known by budding (and more mature) coaches and consultants until they come to terms with the fact that their success principally and paradoxically rests on their clients' capacity to operate their own transformational process and implement their own success.
Question: ''How many coaches to change a light bulb?''
Answer: ''That's irrelevant, so long as the light bulb wants to change''.
Examples: a time management "problem" is generally just a symptom or indicator of an individual or collective difficulty to delegate in a controlling environment. A decision-making "problem" s often a symptom or indicator of an individual or collective lack of confidence.
In organizations, an indicator is also a partial and indirect measure of progress towards a more consequent objective or goal. Example: A 50% reduction of client complaints can be a quality improvement indicator. Beware, however. It is often possible to act to improve the indicators while losing sight of the underlying objectives.
Question: What "fool-proof" indicators other than financial can truthfully measure a manager's a team's or an organization's long term success?
In communication, a virtual form of energy which adds value to interfaces and thereby modifies the state of all partners in the exchange (as well as the relative state of potential partners who are excluded).
This effect of information (and of communication) reveals that « all information is manipulation » (also J.A. Malarewicz) in as much as information permits the remodelling, modification or movement of the receptor.
Within most modern organizations, the added value developed by information exchange within the system’s « collective intelligence » has gradually become much more significant that the added value originating from the distribution of goods or supply of services.
In systems analysis, it is recognized that the potential added value to be gained from the development of positive interfaces within a complex system largely exceeds the potential value of its individual constituting parts.
Example: The parts of an airplane cannot fly, except if they are all organized in such a way as to permit the development of a exceedingly powerful added value, originating from the interfaces between the parts. Consequently, it is not the intrinsic value of the parts themselves that permit flight, but a careful organization of the interfaces between ALL an airplane's parts.
It follows that one the most important ''part'' or organ of any system is the one that is missing, as its absence can perturb the whole system's capacity to develop added value. On our airplane, it could be the default of a single shingle.
The same value adding dynamics potentially exist within teams and organizations. That is the main reason for their existence.
It often appears that the nature of client issues are almost opposite to the context of their initially formulated expectations.
Examples: a client formulating a need in a relational dimension may have issues in their capacity to set relational limits and defend their own interests. A client who wishes to develop personal creativity may lack competence in driving a project to its completion. A client who expresses the need to develop more means to manage and control (for instance in time management) may in fact have important delegation issues. Etc.
It is indeed most natural for a person, a team or an organization to define problems and consequently formulate coaching expectations within its own frame of reference when the solution to the problem lies without.
It can also often be noted that the very choice process of a specific coach or consultant by a client system corresponds to the frame of reference of the initial formulated expectation rather that to the underlying issue itself.
This choice of coach or consultant may unknowingly serve to confirm the existing client frame of reference and the difficulty to operate significant change.
Consequently, coach and consultant ''expectations'' in a supervision situation also serves the primary purpose of helping them become aware of their underlying ''issues''. These may lead them to reconsider the frame of references within which each of their clients' happen to choose them.
If only by omission, language is used to hide as much as it pretends to reveal or describe (except for what's just been said, of course).
Language is used to express or affirm with conviction a fraction of what we do, and when necessary, the exact the opposite of what can perceived by the environment.
On this register, linguistic affirmations describing so-called ''management cultures'' of a good number or organizations often seem to describe the exact opposite behavior of the one perceived by the personnel and environment.
Consequently, observation of measurable action and results often gives much more useful information than official notes, strategic memos, motivating speeches, conceptual articles, management books and other marketing buzz.
Consequently also, real organizational and management culture is effectively deployed almost exclusively through modeling behavior, rather than through the use of verb.
If leaders are oftenprovidential in troubled transitional times of uncertainty, it is also useful to be aware of their capacity to progressively slide into individualist and competitive power strategies rather than lead by collaborating with performing teams, within which they can just be an ''authority''.
There are however, as many leadership profiles as there are personality types and as many leaders as there are people who develop their potential and that of their environment.
In this larger meaning, coaching is the art of accompaying leaders or of all who centered on developing individual and collective potential and performance.
Example : A coach can write an article on original coaching tools for a local daily paper or weekly magazine, which can also :
- Serve as a base for a text that can appear on a professional website or blog.
- Be remodeled to be inserted in a ''how to'' manual for less experienced coaches.
- Be adapted to appear withing promotional material for existing or future clients.
- Serve as a conceptual base for a chapter of a future book.
A coach can often ask clients how some of the actions they implement naturally can serve as leverage for parallel developments in a host of other dimensions and/or to achieve much more ambitions goals.
By extension, in systems thinking and to cite J.A. Malarewicz, one can describe manipulating as ''making a difference that makes a difference''. That could be any action, communication, decision, etc. (or lack of) that has a measurable result or effect. In this light and in a given context, any communication or lack of communication that has an effect is manipulation.
In everyday language, the neganive connotation of ''manipulation'' refers to an indirect strategy who's object is to harm or act against the best interests of an individual or group. The debate is to specify if the act is unintentional (subconscious) or conscious.
According to the concept of '' games '' in Transactional Anolysis, a large majority of manipulatory behavior is unintentionally implemented. Consequently, almost all manipulators can be considered their own first victims.
In organizations, these words are almost exclusively used in their plural form to name “decoys” without which one cannot possibly reach achieve better results. This is to reinforce the belief that one doesn’t have the normally necessary resources to ensure success, (or else, it would obviously be already achieved).
Examples: « We don’t have enough means (personnel, information technology, time, money, support, etc.) to increase our sales”.
As a reminder, a closely related « game » (non-conscious self-manipulation) or manipulation strategy described by Transactional Analysis is called « wooden leg »: ''If I didn’t have this wooden leg, I could really dance ».
Excessive concern about missing means is often an indicator of self-disqualification, of resistance, of an ambition deficit, of lack of focus on objectives, of a context of insecurity, of fear of action, etc.
For each meeting participant the subconscious objective invariably seems to be to:
. make sure nothing escapes his or her control
. make sure nothing comes to upset his or her comfort zone.
It is therefore important to never miss a meeting even if in a large number of organizations, it is politically correct to publicly announce that meetings are a collective waste of time.
On a more systemic level, meetings are the equivalent of theatrical plays or dramas within which all roles, interactions and results are almost entirely predictable. These predictable “shows” are specific to each given organization and identically reproduced at most of its levels.
Consequently, meetings are the primary collective arena for expressing, preserving and developing team or organizational culture. They can be an excellent environment for the collective development of system performance.
Example: the creation of the Euro which replaces preceding national currency and monetary frames of reference.
When merging organizational cultures, it is useful to ask the concerned companies the following zero based question: To benefit from this merging opportunity and question all inherited systems, what completely different performance ''meta-culture'' is it useful to create??
On a systemic level, a network is also the structure which most directly develops the efficiency and added value which lies within the interfaces between members, without having to pass through center for validation. The center if there is one, is simply regularly informed of all local system intiatives, and is consequently free of constraints.
Although recently well illustrated by the ''net'' (internet) and some other information age developments (Linux, chats...), networks exist since the beginning of time outside occidental perceived reality. Tribal and bedouin social structures are revealing their age old network competence through their genetic influence of the numerous ''independent cells'' which constitute the main force of most terrorist organizations.
The (centripetal) force that holds a network (naturally cetrifugal) together is often a mental, spiritual, visonnary or ideological cement which keeps all the members in the same ''frame of mind''. Members of networks therefore enjoy a large dose of autonomy, act as their own decision makers, and at the same time scrupulously respect the spirit and mission of the network or system collective vision.
It is interesting to note that working in a loose network may need much more personal committment and focus on the part of alll members, than if theybelong to a more supportive, classic or hierarchical structure. That may be the principal reason for most of the unsuccessful attempts to launch networks. That main difficulty often escapes the attention of most corporations that prematurely wish to implement ''network'' structures such as complex matrix organizations.
The development of Europe based on a series of treaties (it still doesn't have a constitution that defines a clear decision-making process) is a begining network closer to a form of alliance than to a system which rests on real member committment. To develop Europe as a stronger network system, it's members (including France) will gradually have to mature into a capacity for peer relationships and abandon a relatively outdated hierarchical, controlling and centralizing frame of reference.
”Too much information kills information”, and helps transform it to noise. Kin to good music, real information is mostly composed of judiciously interrupted silences. Although it is commonly held that information is needed to prepare good decisions and ensure their precise application, it is often observed that organizational noise serves the purpose of avoiding reflection and timely action.
The nucleus is the decision making center of the surrounding system or organism and the D.N.A. contains or is at the origin of its fundamental characteristics.
The main internal boundary separates the nucleus from the rest of the organism and its decomposition or destruction is an advance indicator of the decadence or death of the concerned larger system.
Within all systems, it is generally observed that the nucleus plays a major conservatory role, resisting change and that change or evolution originates more often from the periphery of the system if not through its external boundary.
Examples: ''It is strictly forbidden to forbid'', or ''be spontaneous!'', or again ''When you say this, it's not you!''.
In organizations, numerous paradoxical situations rest on perceived incoherencies between form and content of a message. Invariably, these create paralysis.
Examples: A two-hour monologue delivered by an executive on the virtues of dialogue. The obligation for all personnel to attend training sessions to develop their autonomy. A convention mostly delivered by top management on the absolute necessity to develop effective delegation.
Within the same organizations, one can observe that the personnel's claims and gripes are just as paradoxical.
Examples: ''Give us more responsibilities'', or again ''we cannot express ourselves freely''.
Within interpersonal or collective contexts it seems that paradoxical communication unconsciously serves as verbal ''diversion''. The hidden objective for all parties is avoid change, by avoiding to model the desired behavior modification.
There exists numerous subtle forms of passivity, the simplest of which are obviously to do nothing or attempt to flee. Also note that Transactional Analysis theory proposes a rather complex and complete inventory of complementary forms of passivity.
It is possible deny the existence of a problem, of solutions, of one's competence to do something about it. It is possible to do something else, to create diversion by manifesting excessive emotions (mad, sad, afraid or ''happy-happy'') or to start a game (make others responsible, pose as a Victim, Persecute, etc.), to overadapt to the problem (not solve it so it can reappear on a regular basis and keep you busy). The list is long.
When a problem is really solved, it permanently disappears. That sometimes leaves one with a despairing feeling of void, Consequently, problems are useful to ''pre-occupy'' or structure time with little existential investment.
Coaching sometimes consists in helping an individual or collective client develop a passion or elaborate a project that will capture and concentrate all the client system's energy towards a motivating construction or existential enterprise.
Example: '' If you didn't have this problem, what would you really want to achieve?''.
Fundamental principle that stands right in the middle of all poor communication phenomena in interpersonal and intercultural contexts.
'Function by which the mind represents objects, a perception ''is an interpretation of reality based on the past'' according to Watzlawic. These definitions suggest that external (if not internal) reality is totally relative if not subjective illusion.
A perception is thereforefundammentally personal : the external ''reality'' is filtered by the senses and then constructed in the brain, with a good dosage of cultural and historical interpretation.
A perception is therefore a form of self-confirming personal projection. It consists in ''taking back'' or ''recovering'' what had belonged to us in the first place..
A person’s monologue (one facing another or a group), an argument (two or more persons or groups face to face) a triangulation (two or more face to face in the presence of an observing group) are forms of polarity that indicate system lack of circularity or fluidity.
In a team coaching situation, a coach will often use competences to redirect various polarity processes. Coaching and communication techniques can help « deviate » interpersonal or collective polarities so as to progressively increase the level of communication and energy circularity within the whole system thereby increasing its general effectiveness.
Assertive and affirmative apparently leading position, dominant by attitude and characterized by verbal (digital) communication. It consists in being and acting in a central, reactive fashion, in symmetry to others (relational competition within the same fields, for instance by arguing to be right), with a linear logic. Paradoxically and in spite of appearances, a high position is considered weaker as the subject makes an excellent target.
More subtle, fluid delegating position characterized by non verbal (analogical) communication. It consists in being and acting on the periphery rather than in the center, in remaining active (non reactive) and in being complementary to others (by repositioning on other unexpected fields), following non linear logic. Low position is considered more strategic in as it ''directs'' the others by obliging them to react in a continuous flow of relational creativity.
If a ''high position'' coach posture with an individual or team is more comfortable as far as the context is concerned (contract elaboration and respect), it will be more useful for him or her to know how to strategically display a low position throughout the coaching process.
There are several forms of power, such as legal power, the power of competency or expertise, relational power, or the power to influence, and the power of action or reaction, when someone just implements actions, without refering to others.
Coaching competences are reputed at the service of the development of the ''power in the patient'' to help them hold their own, more that to weild it on others. A coaching process accompanies client development in their competencies, relationships, and capacity to act, in a legal or ethical context.
An extravert generally gives more credit to the expression of another’s perception or projection whereas an introvert will generally give more credit to his or her own, and not necessarily express them.
''Man is project'' according to Sartre, and surely projects are one of the criteria that differentiate man from monkeys.
The existential strength of a project comes from its capacity to help us define ourselves a little more in terms of potential future, a little less in terms of the weight of the past.
On a more individual or collective systemic level, a project is kin to a “field” of form, a virtual or imagined ensemble that awaits its materialization. A project is analogical to a “mold” : an empty form that awaits to be filled by content, so as to give it a predetermined shape. A project is therefore a detailed visualisation of a yet inexistent ensemble, which precedes and permits its “materialization”.
In the context of our relatively materialist western cultures, we unfortunately often give too much importance to the future content of a project rather than to its extremely determining initial form or process.
It is generally admitted that the more a project meets the aspirations of a large number of people (a conspiration ), the more is will have chances of materializing.
As may illustrate the proverbial Yin and Yang, this linguistic confusion is surely there to remind us that we all have the qualities of our faults, and vice versa. One is but the shadow of the other.
Indeed having ''quickness of mind'' or the capacity to take things ''in stride'', displaying ''high sensitivity'' or being ''resilient '', can be perceived as qualities or faults depending on the context and more often on the observers.
The debate on the preference one should give to communicating on positive versus negative qualities when giving one feedback is still open in some circles and most conclusions are quite influenced by self-confirming cultural and psychological frames of reference.
Let us just remind that cross-cultural teaching research has time and again confirmed that a good equilibrium between ''positive'' and ''negative'' feedback is most efficient when delivered about someone's progress in learning situations. In a nutshell, too much positive develops complacent self satisfaction, and an excess of negative affects motivation and provokes abandon.
Whatever the expectations of an individual or collective client, the proverbial ''neutrality'' of a consultant or coach may rest on communicating as much in one dimension as in the other, to help develop well balanced client autonomy.
Without excessive precision, ''quality'' is often mentioned as if it were positioned high on the list of organizational client-centered services or product promises.
The real communication and measures of quality often display a more complacent frame of reference. For example, one can witness that some organizations communicate with pride that they have an 85% or 90% rate of satisfaction, when they in fact have 10 to 15% disgruntled clients.
At the dawn of the age of information, a high degree in the quality (predictability in perfection) of products (industrial era) and of service (relationship or humanist era) adds value and is synonymous to luxury.
The least useful questions are informative and centered on the client's past and/or the comprehension of his or her problem or context. These invariably keep the client and coach reinforcing or validating the same client frame of reference. Examples: ''Can you describe your problem's context?'' or worse: ''What is keeping you from solving your problem?''
More ''powerful'' coaching questions are focused on the client's future and potential for solutions. Better, they are creatively asked in a way to facilitate the transformation of the client's frame of reference. Example when facing a situation perceived by a procrastinating client as a dead end: ''Supposing your problem is satisfactorily solved by the end of next week, what will you have done by this afternoon?''
More technically, one should judiciously choose between the use of open questions, at the start of a coaching session and more closed questions that prepare the client's conclusions and decisions.
Open questions are exploratory, for example: What do you want to do? while closed ones aim for client decisions, for example: ''Do you prefer option A or option B?''
Also, it is better to use neutral questions such as ''would you like to meet again shortly, or would you like to give yourself more time?'' (neutral/closed) rather than influencing questions such as ''Don't you think we should meet again very shortly?''
Most of the time, however, coaches are much too preoccupied by the next content questions they are going to ask their clients when they could be just intensively listening to their deeper concerns with an attentive silence, occasionally punctuated by non verbal approval and personal reformulations.
If a reformulation re-expresses the linguistic (digital) content of a communication, it should use subtly different and personal words so as to manifest a deep comprehension of the original message's meaning.
Consequently the object of a reformulation is to send back a message to its origins, modifying its form while respecting its content, to help the originating person or group further explore or develop their idea or frame of reference, hopefully with a permission to take it to new dimensions.
The re-expression of feelings is a more intimate and sometimes more ''intrusive'' form of reformulation that expresses an interpretation of the original emitter's analogical communication (communicated through position, tone of voice, gesture, expressions, etc.) so as to notify that something more was perceived beyond the simple meaning of his or her words.
Example: ''When you speak this way about your vegetable garden, I can really feel the depth and quality of the roots and centering it seems give you.'' The object of this communication tool is also to give others an opportunity or permission to verbally explore a more personal dimension of the subject they are communicating.
Obviously, both these techniques can occupy a very privileged place in a coach's professional tool-shed.
Relays are verbal and sometimes analogical (body language) ''ponctuation'', in the form of onomatopeas (passive relays), that one emits to rhythm client expression and action and which illustrate that one is attentively present and following (common sales technique).
Examples: hm-hm, hm-hm, yes, yes, really?, yes! hm-hm. (nods, in rhythm to the client's communication) etc.
Some more active relays consist in repeating the last word uttered by the client with an interrogative tone, and in asking the client to say more about a key word expressed within his or her communication. Examples: ''soon?'' or again ''when would soon be, for example?''
So as not to influence client rhythm or communication content, ''relays'' are to be as unintrusive as possible, both in form and content. The objective is to follow client commucnication without pressurizing, interrupting or using new key words, thereby demonstrating presence and attention.
Much like a vacuum ''aspires'' content, it is also important to remember that the best relay is often a quiet warm presence that simply demonstrates attentive and respectful acceptance.
Healthy individual or collective reaction when facing an imposed transition, separation or change. An imposed change can indeed disqualify a person or system to the rank of « object » or “pawn” having to comply rather than that of “actor” capable of personal will. In most transitional periods, “resisting” persons or systems are often refusing a discounting change of existential status rather than the loss of comfort or novelty of an unexpected project itself.
Generally speaking, proposed change is more willingly accepted by people and systems who are given a chance to become or remain responsible “actors” within the process. Consequently, when operating or coaching important changes or transitions within any system, it is preferable to consider implementing a process which will make room for the largest number of people to become or remain important actors from the beginning to the completion of the project.
Taking responsibilities consists in taking action first, and informing the environment about the action and consequences immediately after. Avoiding responsibilities consists in asking the environment if one has the right to act first, and generally getting a refusal under the grounds that one is not responsible yet (or else, why does one ask?).
Note that a person asking for more responsibilities rather than just taking them is actually looking for recognition, which would be the real issue.
Very paradoxically and much in the same way as for autonomy or freedom , responsibilities consequently continue to belong to those who give them, can’t be transmitted to those who say they want them, and are generally freely accessible to those who are just ready to take them and use them.
Example: the right to information or communication is the duty to stay informed and to communicate. The right to freedom, liberty or autonomy is a duty that each has to individually assume and continuously deploy.
There are some social paradoxes concerning rights and duties: To communicate that they do not want to act on their duties, people translate them into rights, act as if they were baffled and request their return from others .
When accompanying change, coaching are often confronted to client resistance when they face new risks. ''One must measure the risks of changing'' is the habitual client leitmotiv, when it is quite obvious that there is much more risk in the client not changing. The real fear here is the fear of the unknown, even if the unknown could be success.
They are personal sources and channels of information which can only be perceived through conscience or awareness. Awareness, as a channel, could therefore be considered the first and foremost sense.
We all have the potential capacity to perceive through six other primary senses and their possible prolongations :
-Sight and the capacity for “prevision” or foresight (perceiving probable future events with more or less accuracy).
-Hearing and the capacity to discern or discriminate with precision (for instance between good and bad).
-Smell and the capacity to achieve or realize goals (''business scents'').
-Taste and telepathy (more commonly happens between people of similar taste).
-Touch and the capacity to transmit (such as ''touching'' others or the capacity to write).
-Feelings are a mix of emotions and are generally onsidered the main door to intuition.
This detailed range of thirteen senses obviously rests on no scientific evidence. As an enlarged frame of reference to our multiple forms of intelligence (beyond ''E.I.''?), however, the concept can stimulate interest and provoke personal research and development.
In this light, and to avoid simply getting answers on conscious needs or superficial levels and get real confrontation on more fundamental issues, it is useful to choose a supervision process that in itself permits a frame of reference transformation. There indeed exists a number of different supervision processes which each provide radically different angles to explore coaching and consulting frames of reference.
The relatively palpaple danger of supervision as an almost imposed quality process is that some coaches (and clients) seem to think that by just being enrolled in a supervision setting, one has done enough to automatically prove their quality level. As everywhere else, a process to improve quality is not synonymous with ensured quality as an end result.
Example: in organizations, rumors, personnel turnover, theft, financial loss, breakage, absenteeism, client infidelity, and accidents are all identical symptoms that each indicates the existence of an underlying problem. Individually considered, each can justify a series of creative and judicious but generally ineffective action plans that all avoid treating the underlying illness.
Within a same malfunctioning system, it often seems that symptoms appear collectively, have a common traits and indicate a common cause. In the above example, for instance, all the listednorganizational symptoms reveal a form of systemic hemorrhage.
The treatment or elimination of a symptom is synonymous to a (sometimes useful) short-term ''comfort-oriented'' therapy, often provokes its displacement and contributes to avoiding the treatment of the real or fundamental issue.
Within a client system, if the solution of a problem often resides elsewhere than in the treatment of its symptoms, it is important to avoid their disqualification. Symptoms are creative expressions or manifestations of a more fundamental and hidden difficulty and of a deep motivation to change .
A system is a coherent and organized ensemble that demonstrates a minimum amount of form or formalism: for example a living system (such as an organization) manifests an external boundary and often at least one internal boundary (which differentiates the decision-making organ), one or more statutory objectives (at minimum to survive or grow), is naturally capable of growth and reproduction, etc.
Systems approach is also called ''complexity management'' because it focuses on the interfaces between entities that consitute a system (organs) rather than on the entities as such.
Within a team, a systemic approach consists in understanding and sometimes modifying the operational interfaces between each and all team members rather than focusing on the team members themselves (which would correspond to a psychological approach).
By analogy, in outer space, a systems approach would focus on the study of relationships, energy and mass existing in the space between stars and planets (which amounts to much more than that of and visible matter) rather than focus on the planet and stars themselves.
Within organizations, the first and simplest level of human collective systems is the team. It is within that realm that can occur basic interface study and modification, to improve on systemic performance.
In Europe, ''team building'' is often centered on the improvement of personal and professional relationships within the team system, sometimes in the search of relative comfort.
Most often using various revealing interpersonal learning exercises and systematic positive reinforcement from all the members, team building is perceived in Europe as and ''incentive'' operation.
Some team building is influenced by a psychological tradition and focuses on collective exercises that are debriefed to give each team member elements and areas of personal and relational development in a professional context.
The difference between team building and ''team coaching'' principally resides in the latter's absence of theoretical developments, teaching exercises, or meeting ''moderation'' by which a trainer or consultant who would have a ''de facto'' central role.
In team coaching, the collective client defines and leads or ''moderates'' its own process and content, often in an operational meeting context. This process is simply ''supervised'' by a peripheral coach who avoids being central both in content and process.
Equivalent to a ''nuclear'' family in private live, a team is therefore a systemic ensemble of individuals (or of entities, by extension) who's existence is generally justified by the optimal exploitation of the potential added value to be gained from the interfaces between all its members.
Teams are assimilated to ''living systems'', manifest an external boundary (as opposed to an informal group) at least one internal boundary (as opposed to some networks that do not have differentiated organs) , have statutory objectives or goals, display formal internal and external processes, (including a decision making process), etc.
Immaterial resource linked to space by the theory of relativity as in ''time-space'' and other ''here and now'' concepts.
Much as in agriculture, time is a basic resource, which with liquidities (time is money) are essential to insure the growth of plants, organisms, organizations and projects.
In the corporate would, good or bad time management is often considered to be a personal competency when it actually totally depends on collective frames of reference and behaviors. Consequently, improving time management does not concern personal development or training but collective cultural transformations.
In Systems Analysis, time is paradoxical: One must take one's time to have time. One must waste time to make time. One must give time to receive time in return. Consequently, time often flees those who chase after it.
Popular saying: ''Time does not respect what you build in its absence.''
The concept is welcome when the objective is to develop the ''systemic'' added value of a team or organization in as much as it will only be extracted from transversal operational and functional interfaces.
If indeed there is no ''transversality'' between all the members of a team or with the surrounding organizational systems (the two generally go together) a good part of the potential ''systemic'' added value is lost. In that case it would be just as efficient in tems of ''systems results'' to externalize each of the team members along with each of their operational functions.
In other words, the only useful reason to constitute teams and larger organizations (complex systems) is not only to group experts, but to capitalize on the potential wealth that can be developed in seamless transversal interfaces between them and between their expertise.
The concept of transversality avantageously replaces those of ''teamwork'' and ''delegation'' which often paradoxically make the team leader too responsible for the seamless system he or she often feels must be developed within the team.
One example concerns countries that verbally and all too often promote freedom seem to be the first to act in a way to stiffle it by trying to subdue their own citizens and expect others to submit or face aggression. Religious organizations are also good at that, promoting love with a sword and at the price of taking life in the name of God.
This is getting political.
Another recent example was given by Bush & al. when formulating that countries that did not submit to the US point of view on invading Iraq did not want to cooperate with the US and were therefore to be considered as enemies. Good strategic use of the word cooperation. etc.
One could conclude that a system could actively promote a given set ofvalues as an excellent strategy to conceal a completely opposite agenda. Too bad no one thought of that yet.
This is probably because verbalized values are formulated by the super-ego while actions are motivated by different drivers and may reveal the ''real'' value systems, behind the words.
Whenever an organization chooses, through its executive team, to define its vision and mission, the question of values wil generally come up. A coach could make sure that this vital process includes widespread participation of the rest of the personnel, so as to keep everyone's feet firmly grounded.
Words are also traitors (''tradutorre, traditorre'', as goes the Italian saying). They trick us and lead us astray, as the same word can carry or ''translate'' a host of different (contradictory or complementary) shades of meanings between people who nevertheless usually believe that because they share a language, they understand the same thing if not each other.
One of the breakthrough strategies that permit radical change of frame of reference. For the partners in any project, the ''zero base '' approach consists in facing the future as if there were no means inherited from the past (including financial), and to start from scratch, or zero.
Example: when compiling a ''zero base budget'' all preceding year expenses are considered questionable and everyone has to reconsider the usefulness spending every first dollar.
Applied in other strategic or conceptual domains, a well designed zero base approach (and its opposite to maximize top line input) is a creative intellectual attitude that often permits re-questioning old mental and behavioral habits, and keep from routinely repeating elements of history.