Case examples – relational practice

These examples of consultancy practice illustrate some of the key elements of working from within a ‘relational terrain’ and how they help to effect change:

Consulting to change

An intervention to support the functioning of a complex new organizational structure, introduced the idea that all systems have aspects which are temporary and fragmented and capable of co-existing with other aspects which are more coherent and enduring. It helped two directors to think through their roles as joint-directors of a merged professional services firm, operating on two separate global platforms. They (and members of their team/s) were able to allow each other more space to take up their leadership according to their areas of responsibility, rather than attempting a unified style, and to use this to present themselves with greater credibility within their global matrices. This work supported the key players to be open to experimentation in their roles, and stay connected with each other and their different approaches in a context of merger dynamics which were seeking to shut down difference.

Consulting to change agents

An application of relational psychoanalytic theories to the understanding of group and organizational behaviour was able to help an internal consultant within a government department explore the difficulties he encountered in designing and setting up an integrated statutory/3rd sector Initiative. Paying attention to how he was ‘relating to the other’ enabled the consultant to bring an approach which recognized the interdependency between the sectors, and to challenge the them/us mindset which was prevailing. The client was able to take up a more collaborative and experimental role of enquiry in a system which was geographically dispersed, with many ‘outlying’ members.

These are examples of consulting to change and development in situations of organisational drives to improve effectiveness and market share, where individuals face high expectations. Clients find this work accessible and helpful, and professionals working in change value the capacity to make robust judgements about how to intervene.

Professional development

My approach to professional development is outlined in Resource-ful Consulting, examples of professional development programmes include: