Saturday, 12 December 2009

How to fix a “mental” organisation.

It’s not that hard to understand how to transform a "mental" organisation (see Is your firm “mental”? Probably) into an engaged, innovative, exciting, satisfying one. But the evidence shows that it’s clearly hard to actually do it. Harder even than changing a golf swing.

That’s because its usually a manager who’s “fixing” the managed. Trying to “get buy-in”: to argue, sweet talk, trick or command the managed to change their “swing”: their dysfunctional habits. It doesn’t work! That manager behaviour is perhaps the main barrier to recovery. Recovery isn’t a “fix”. It’s a way of life (for managers particularly).

Leading edge practitioners and their fortunate patients in the field of mental health – recovery from psychiatric dysfunction - know this and have developed an effective approach to achieving recovery.

You don’t have to be a psychologist to “do recovery”. It’s “common sense”. Communities and ordinary people can do it. In deed, they are the ones who do it. Perhaps the biggest impediment to recovery in the mental health field is the “mental” organisations that practitioners and patients are obliged to inhabit and deal with and the pervasive “industrial” management assumptions and habits that “drive” those organisations.

In Is your firm “mental”? Probably and Organisational Therapy I observe that organisations are normally “mental” and point out how the Recovery Approach to treating psychiatric dysfunction can be adapted to treating “mental” organisations.

In It’s OK we’re not OK . . . . I address the 1st of the 14 facilitating environmental factors for recovery : “promoting accurate and positive portrayals of [interpersonal dysfunction]”:

I outline some simple group activities that initiate recovery process. The activities facilitate participants’ surfacing, recognising and discussing different interactive styles and the consequences of different styles, and then productively portraying them to transform interpersonal and organisational dysfunction into engagement, innovation and satisfaction.

Surprisingly perhaps, that simple set of activities (that teams intrinsically enjoy) actually address all the remaining 13 environmental factors too. Here they are again:

  • Focusing on strengths
  • Using language of hope and possibility
  • Developing and pursuing individually defined . . . . goals
  • Offering a range of “wellness strategies”, options for treatment, rehabilitation and support
  • Supporting risk-taking even when failure is a possibility
  • Actively involving [customers], family members, and other natural support in interventions planning and implementation
  • Providing individually-tailored services taking one’s culture and interests into consideration
  • Encouraging users participation in advocacy activities
  • Helping to develop connections with community
  • Systematically addressing illness-related factors that impede recovery
  • Promoting valued [organisational &] social roles, and interests
  • Enabling participation in meaningful activities
  • Building supportive relationships
  • Here’s the thing: that simple set of activities is just a beginning. The key to success is in the ongoing execution of the plan: rhythmic daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually meeting to share change stories, acknowledge contribution and celebrate success, identify blockages then review and agree who will do what tomorrow and through the week, month, quarter, and year to continue the progress; and review and agree how individual and team contribution and progress will be measured .


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