Here at the Coaching at work Conference 2016 and the opening keynote is with Hetty Einzig about green trees and VUCA.
Hetty’s starting by acknowledging that coaching is still a young profession and in an ever-moving environment we need to maintain a good capacity to think to help others make meaning. And an explanation of VUCA. Volatile. Uncertain – Even so-called stable institutions can feel woobly in the recent changes – long-standing businesses, government, religion – what do we believe in now? What are our reference points? Where are our rocks?. Complex – entangled and entwined, or intertwangled. Ambiguous – what we first see might not be the whole picture, there’s ambiguity in orgs that stops us seeing the whole or being connected. If we don’t feel part of something, connected, it can trigger our threat response.
All the VUCA means the world can feel tumultuous – a roller coaster, a ship on stormy seas….. And it’s our feelings that will signal to us that this is how it’s feeling.
Impact of VUCA – anxiety vs fear, control vs authoritarianism, stress inhabits us => Perverse Organisations.
Insight about anxiety – the closer the anxiety is to us and our world, the more we feel anxiety. Brexit an example where the use of immigration as a fear-based campaign tapped most into those for whom immigration is a close-to-home reality.
4 types of anxiety :
- Existential – we depend on others to survive, especially as babies. Existential anxiety gets triggered easily in a VUCA world.
- Ambivalence – wanting to individual, and reliant on others (connection back to existential)
- Meaning Making – we’re meaning-making creatures “why?” as our first question as children. Our desire for knowledge is how we learn. We also have a desire to turn away from, to turn a blind eye. Denial. In VUCA world we can’t always know and it can cause anxiety
- Outside coming Inside – terror entering our homes, first on TV and now through phones and SoMe but we’re not wired to have that level of continuous and persistent terror from events n the news, etc. We’re porous, or absorbent, so we take the emotion of these situations on board. External literal horrors become internal metaphorical horrors (ref work of George Lakov).
“Taking back control” is a knee jerk reaction to VUCA e.g. banking industry increasing reporting from twice to four times a day to track and measure more. Authoritarian beliefs that someone “up there” is going to have the answer. We close down, we follow the rules, keep your head down and we’ll be OK.
Perverse Organisations – Susan Long – showing a deliberate and obstinate desire to behave in a way which is unacceptable. Maybe instead it should be Perverse Cultures.
Features of the perverse mindset:
Individual good before collective good
Incapacity to see what’s really going on, denial
Having instrumental relations – people feel like cogs in a machine, interchangeable, not valued
Engage others in the group think, gang mentality, complicity or self-deception becomes institutionalised – hold this as a thought given there are limits to coaching and we may be coaching in perverse organisations