We are delighted this week to feature another guest blogger, Josie McLean. If you would like to blog on a theme related to Challenging Coaching then please get in touch. Here is Josie’s exciting glimpse of the potential of systemic coaching:-

Coaching systemically, is not what I set out to do – it emerged. Although I have been a student of Peter Senge’s work for some time, I did not set out specifically to learn about systemic coaching.  I followed what I thought I knew about complex adaptive systems and experimented. It was, and continues to be, action learning and research. Here is a summary of one of my existing assignments.

My client is the administrative organisation of a local council in Australia. One of the things I observed as I roamed the council, was that some lines of communication seemed to be missing. People, usually lower to middle parts of the hierarchy, may have observed or felt something that was really important for senior executives to be aware of but they failed to raise these topics. This is nothing new – it happens in just about every organisational system I have worked in or with.

I started to wonder why the communication was hindered. I observed more…

organisational feedback

My systemic coaching intervention then was to:

As a result of the shift in mental models, people within the middle layers of the hierarchy are now also creating informal networks, reaching across functional lines, to converse about issues of common interest. They are inviting people who seem to be important (leverage points) to influence desirable outcomes. These people are rarely from the executive group. From a systems perspective, we could say that they are forming new structures (informal groups), to increase or strengthen feedback loops of information, to deliver a systemic response.

This case study is a small example of what I believe is a possible future for systemic coaching.  It challenges our existing notion of what coaching is but does not make coaching as we know redundant. It evolves and adds to it. Just as we became aware that coaching individuals could be extended to coaching a team as a whole – maybe we can evolve and extend coaching to organisations as a whole: to midwife the new paradigm we know must emerge.

Josie McLean, PCC, is the founder of The Partnership in Australia, past President of the ICFA and 2009 ICF President’s Award recipient. She is works with forward thinking individuals and organisations to make a difference to the things that matter most.Josie is also an active researcher being involved in both PhD research and an interdisciplinary team seeking to catalyse the next transformation of the Australian landscape – being sustaining and sustainable. [email protected] www.the-partnership.com.au

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