Organizational Healing is a Real Thing
This piece is inspired by my everyday life, the one that I often find boring or depressing. Yet maybe I am not looking closely enough. Maybe I am not being generous and appreciative enough of my life. Because when I am, creation happens. Different aspects seem to smoothly dance along! Every different aspect of life is related, even the most opposite ones. They all operate under the same human system: I, or in your case, you! Sometimes it helps to just take a step back and look at our days from a little bit of a distance. Sometimes it helps if we let other people look with us. This piece is inspired by the days when I was taking many steps back.
It was a Wednesday afternoon. I climbed out of bed to make some food while thinking about the consulting process that I facilitate at my job. I let myself pause and go deeper into different consultation experiences: the ones I had as a consultant, the ones I had as a client, and the ones I heard about from others. I paused here, took some steps back, looked at the concept from different angles, and peeled potatoes. Suddenly, I caught myself thinking about my relationship with my therapist and the dynamic in which therapy works best. I thought about the practices, changes, and the many reflections. My thoughts came to this conclusion: it seems that organizations reach out to consultants for the same reasons individuals turn to therapists.
I, as an individual, do not know how to begin digging into my issues and memories without hurting myself. I do not know where to stop and how to think about solutions. Sometimes I am not even sure which problems I should solve, which to accept, and of which to let go. My therapist helps me dig deeper gradually until I am ready for the main problem(s). Then they shed light on resources and tools that are accessible to me. I do the work. I use the resources and report back to my therapist. Sometimes I succeed; sometimes not. They listen, unravel new things, bring out new difficulties from my (their?) back pocket, and explore a menu of solutions with me. Now, it is my turn to choose, implement, and reflect.
This relationship is amazingly similar to the relationship between organizations and consultants. We cannot resolve and sometimes even see all the issues in a given situation as long as we are in it, as long as we are a part of it! So, we reach out to an external mind to join us and gradually walk with us through issues and possible solutions. We, as an organization, must do the work ourselves. We must agree on a possible solution and implement it. In the implementation phase, we still need the consultant to sometimes hold our hands. The roads to solutions are usually bumpy, and even the most professional drivers might damage the car. Well, this is also the core of mindfulness practices: Healing is not linear.
I see my therapist every week. Many people end their treatment with one therapist. Some may end it with all therapists. But rarely do people delete the therapist’s contact information from their phone. They still do check-ins once a month or every six months. They need the connection because we do not live in a static world. Our lives change every day. A new puzzle shows up in every relationship, decision, and political and social situation without us predicting or even wanting it. Our lives are impacted from the inside and outside and so are our organizations.
I work in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). I see a lot of consultations happening daily. I study the consulting process and its impact on organizations every time I see a positive shift - a shift in the staff’s mindset, culture, or operation. And I do not believe that these are separate from one another. An organization is a system of people, processes, tasks, and outcomes, and they are all interdependent. As I previously stated, I believe that the relationship between organizations and consultants is very similar to that between individuals and therapists. They both seek solutions in order to heal, to be vulnerable, to learn, and to act.
Now, why did I decide to share this analogy in writing? Because I think that if we put therapy and consultation under one category, they will both become more accessible to us. It makes it easier to understand the need and necessity for allocating time, budget, and energy. Because none of us should go through this alone. We need a therapist to stop us and invite us to slow down when we experience anxiety. We need a consultant to help us strategically prioritize addressing different issues. We want to be perfect and succeed in every aspect of life. This desire comes from ambition, and it is wonderful! But we also need to be reminded to slow down and sometimes take a step back. Our personal and professional lives have some blind spots. We need a fresh eye to help us see them more holistically; to see issues, positive aspects, and solutions more broadly and realistically. Reality then leads us to healing. It leads us to see possibilities, capabilities, and change.
Oh, and if you are curious about what happened to the potatoes, they turned into crunchy and tasty french fries! A perfect outcome of a system made of ingredients, electricity, tools, and human ingenuity!