‘The Consultant as Organisational Osteopath – freeing stuck patterns of thinking and acting’ by Margaret Bishop and Irene Murphy – published in Organisational Consulting at the Edges of Possibility, published by LIBRI Publishing in association with Ashridge, 2010.
Review by the editiors Kathleen King and John Higgins of Ashridge:
“Margaret and Irene integrate ‘right’ and ‘left’ brain working in a way I have rarely seen. Most consultants use artistic disciplines as a bit of light relief from the hard cerebral slog of the ‘real’ work, which is usually defined as analytic and propositional consulting. In this story the authors focus on their work with a senior management team which is attempting to engage once again with an ongoing problem. Margaret and Irene share how they integrate the expressive and the experiential with the analytical and propositional to bring about new and practical insights. Their conclusion is that, as consultants, they aim to get their clients engaging with four forms of knowing, not just the traditional two – and so double the productivity of the organisation.
“What also stood out for me was the attention they pay to the groundwork in their relationships both with each other and with their client. They give relationships the opportunity to develop, allow time for client and consultant to get to know each other in ways that make it all right to be different with one another or even play without embarrassment. Intimacy cannot be demanded; it has to be nurtured and allowed to grow, with care and attention. Much as they pay scrupulous attention to how their relationship is developing with their client, they also pay close attention to how they can introduce potentially new and challenging perspectives and experiences that can be received by their clients. They continually plan and improvise, creating and holding situations safe enough for people (both consultant and client) to experiment together, exploring new ways of knowing, feeling, thinking and acting. A key to this skill is their ability to be experienced as professional yet not ‘expert’. Rather than seeking to ‘measure success against some pre-determined, fantasy outcome’ they make it natural for client and consultant to work together and become curious about what these experiments make possible. This story explores what it takes to be credible, successful, improvisational consultants, who make it possible for clients to do some serious playing which results in unpredictable and new patterns of acting.“