On helping – reciprocity, deference and demeanour

So after ‘Getting started‘, I have now read Chapter Two of Schein’s book on Helping.  Chapter Two is a bit of a scene setter about the cross-cultural principles underpinning social life and relationships in general – rather than about helping per se.  Schein emphasises that it is important to understand this “essence of relationships” so that the special-ness of a helping relationship can then be understood.

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On helping – getting started

Last summer when I came across the work of Schein on research, I found a book that he had written called “Helping: how to offer, give and receive help“.  I bought the book in early November, just as T847 started so it has sat there largely unread.  I’ve started it a couple of times and then faltered – distracted with ‘real’ studying.  And then I tried again when the course finished.  It’s not the book – I realised that I am really bad at really taking things in and following an argument if I don’t turn to my notepad to take notes and my blog to summarise key points – I don’t think about what I am learning.  I can’t just read books – I have to interact with them if I am going to get anything from the process.

So I am starting again – a short burst of temporary purposeful activity to inquire into the notion of helping.  I figured writing a series of blogs as I go along may help with the momentum – and the learning process.

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Insights into ‘research’ from Schein

I have recently come across Schein’s work which links to research.  I have come across him before – as one of the oft quoted theorists on organisational culture.  In fact it is this work that is mentioned in the wikipedia article about him.

Schein’s work draws and comments on that of Lewin – a ‘thinker’ included in the Systems Thinkers book by Ramage and Shipp.  Given that, I feel happy adding Schein into my interpretation of a ‘systems thinker/practitioner’.

So what does Schein offer to my thinking…. Continue reading

The practice of research

Spurred on by my Distinction for TU812, I signed up for T847 The MSc Professional Project.  It starts in November and will be the last module for me to gain the MSc in Systems Thinking in Practice (yeah, I know more letters but I have now moved on from the downer of my last post).

I’ve been in email correspondence with a couple of others who are also planning to do T847 – we’ve been wondering what we can do to ‘prepare’ over the summer.  Call it withdrawal symptoms if you like.

But, the emails have got me thinking – what am I preparing for?

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How can I help release natural systems talent in others?

This week I have had a couple of major breakthroughs in my quest to introduce systems thinking and practice to others.  Whilst I recognise those successes – this post is not about them specifically.  I want to reflect on what I am discovering about others and the learning that they value.

The colleagues I am talking about are people who are natural systems thinkers – I listen to them try and articulate their ideas, try and scribble diagrams that demonstrate their models of what they are thinking, use their hands to draw ‘systems’ in the air.  They use the word systems and talk of whole systems approaches and systems thinking.  I just want to say “stop, listen to me for a few hours and I’ll take this natural talent you have to a whole new level.  I want to let you know of some language, ideas and tools that will release this natural talent”.  Perhaps this is how it feels to be a sporting coach spotting new talent but seeing that the athlete does not currently have the technique, disposition or awareness of how their body works to take their natural ability to Olympic standard. Continue reading


This is a bit of a stream of consciousness and partial connections…..

The other week I was in a meeting when someone presented a paper which included, among other things, the thorny issue of how we go about ‘prioritisation’ at a strategic level.  For some reason the word niggled me and I had a sharp intake of breadth – the Chair noticed it and invited me to speak.  Now I know I could have stayed quiet, but I didn’t… instead I tried to articulate my concern. Continue reading

Managing systemic change

Seems weird that since November I have been studying a course with “Managing systemic change” as the module title and I now start questioning whether I know what it is or not?  I think in part it is because I am trying to connect up how ‘social learning’ fits into ‘managing systemic change’.

There have been a couple of forum threads on what we understand by managing systemic change but each time I think I grasp it, it goes away again.

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