Friday, 4 December 2009

Organisational therapy

Diversity in teams is arguably essential for innovation and change, but tends to be a nightmare for interpersonal relationships. Misunderstanding and conflict are probable, even desirable when diverse perspectives and personalities interact for change. You could say then, that teams and organisations of diverse individuals are probably intrinsically interpersonally dysfunctional: can never be truly “sane” but can, with support, be “high functioning”.

I used this mental health analogy in my post “Is your firm mental? Probably.” Though the concept was first published a year ago* I was reminded of it in a conversation with a client mental-health NGO about the possibility of offering organisational therapy service to firms wanting to generate high-performing teams.

To get a feel for the applicability of the recovery approach, consider the following list titled “Recovery as a process: Environmental factors facilitating recovery”*. Notice how, with a few minor [edits] to shift the tenor from psychiatric to interpersonal dysfunction, the list seems eerily familiar . . . . . . and applicable to treating interpersonal dysfunction in an organisation.

  • Promoting accurate and positive portrayals of [interpersonal dysfunction].
  • 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

* Tse, S. & Barnett S. Recovery Oriented Services. Clinical Management in Mental Health Services. December 2008. Blackwell: London. Figure 8.3. Recovery as a process and outcomes (adapted from: Mancini et al., 2005; O’Connell et al., 2005; Roe et al., 2007)

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