When we think of the word ‘design’ what comes to mind? Possibly ‘fashion design’ or ‘engineering design’ or ‘building design’ the list could go on. We now have ‘organisational design’. One definition of the word design is: purpose or planning that exists behind an action, fact or object. This definition seems somewhat cold. When we think of the word design, often the idea of creating something colourful or elaborate comes to mind. The notion of creating something often evokes some sort of palpable feeling. There is often an emotive connection that is often felt with the idea of working on a design. It is no wonder that design has, until now, been the domain of creatives.
In the last decade, organisations were preoccupied with reacting to the pace of change that was coming at them from all angles. These changes were wrapped up as problems that needed solutions that were often the subject of large-scale change management initiatives. Looking back in time it is easy to see why employees experienced ‘change-fatigue’ and often resisted implementing what was being asked of them. It was easier to keep on doing the same and avoid anything new that required more physical and mental effort.
Back in 2017 we wrote about team work and proposed 7 steps to effective team working (https://www.level7live.com/category/level-seven/page/3/). Since then, we have found ourselves increasingly integrating our work as consultants, coaches and mediators in order to address the team development challenges brought to us by our clients. This approach has enabled us to help create and sustain thoughtful, collaborative and accountable ways of working in a team context.
In this occasional blog series we will revisit each of those 7 steps, to show how an integrated approach has worked for our clients and can work for you:
Developing Good Habits
I have been instilling a personal discipline each morning of taking time to do two things. One is to focus on a daily mediation and the other is to read on a subject related to coaching. For the latter, my current book is Gestalt Therapy by Perls, Hefferline & Goodman and for the former, I dip randomly into a book entitled, 360 Tao: Daily Meditations.
In randomly opening up the Daily Meditations book, today’s word is ‘Existing’. The description of the word invites the reader to think about clearing away the fog that obscures one’s mind and to explore more clearly the inner reality that exists.
Within the context of the Gestalt book, I am just about to begin a section on fixations, which is a sub-section of ‘Introjection’.
I am just setting off for a weekend of walking in an attempt to exercise my mind, body and soul so I feel I have sufficient time to reflect on these three concepts: introjection, fixation and existing. I’ll post a summary of my reflections on my return.
The reason I entitled this blog ‘Developing Good Habits’ is that all too often, when coaching clients, I find we are trying to work on breaking bad habits but what does it take to develop good habits? Well, in my view its motivation, practice, repetition and noticing when the behaviour becomes automatic. The above morning rituals now seem as automatic as brewing my morning cup of coffee.
I am interested to know how in your coaching practice are helping others to develop good habits? What good practices can we promote and share with others?
Please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
 Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality, F. Perls, R.F. Hefferline & P. Goodman
 365 Tao: Daily Meditations, Deng Ming-Dao
Allowing your thinking some space and time
Using my desire to become the best version of myself via some self-coaching activities I have started to develop a morning routine whereby I do some reading from the assorted pile of books on coaching related topics that sit on my bedside table. (I’ve realised that just having these books near to me will not mean that the knowledge they contain will automatically transfer to my brain!)
I am currently working my way through ‘Gestalt Therapy’ and I am challenging myself to conduct and reflect on the suggested experiments within the book. Today’s experiment was about deepening awareness and the text from a page that jumped out and came into my awareness was: “The notion that ‘thoughts’ on their own initiative and without any help from you ‘enter your mind’ must give place to the insight that you are thinking the thoughts. (p85)
I decided to work with this idea of where do my thoughts come from and notice the content of my thoughts. As I went out for my morning walk today, near Cambridge, I tried to empty my mind and be aware of my body and the contact I was making with the external environment. All my effort and awareness was focused on the physical contact I was making and then I became aware that my thoughts, for no apparent reason, shifted to my nephews, one of whom I saw at the weekend and is about to move house. Without too much effort I just allowed this line of thinking to emerge, to have some fun with the experiment and to be curious where the thoughts would go.
The interconnectedness of my thinking went something like this: my nephews are very dear to me. I have had all the fun of being an Aunt, encouraging my nephews to experience things that their parents might otherwise be cautious about. According to an e-card that someone sent to me, apparently 9 out of 10 children get their awesomeness from their Aunt. A sentiment I wholeheartedly support and shared with my nephews for validation. They naturally agreed! The experience of being an Aunt has taught me about a different type of responsibility, courage and risk taking; all things I value in and about myself and what I value in my approach to coaching. It has been a timely opportunity for me to reflect on these values and how they can support me in my current situation.
The insight I take away from this experience and experiment is that whilst thoughts may appear to be random and sometimes seem to come out of nowhere, they seem to serve a purpose. Working with your thoughts as they emerge rather than trying to censor them or rationalise them can provide a fruitful and enriching experience.
I would be interested to know what resonates with you, please get in touch at email@example.com
5 June 2019
 Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth into Human Personality. Frederick Perls, Ralph F. Hefferline & Paul Goodman.
MOVING FORWARD WITH THE RESEARCH
Helping teams to resolve issues often focuses on interpersonal behaviours and relationships. These are undoubtedly important, but other issues can arise with more of a task focus: ideas may not get heard, low risk tolerance can stifle creativity impacting on team performance and productivity. (This article succinctly sets out the range of challenges facing teams: https://workplacepsychology.net/2010/12/17/eight-common-problems-teams-encounter/)
Our current research project seeks to identify the types of task based challenge that impede team success. As trained coaches and mediators, we are fascinated by team dynamics and how synthesizing our work as coaches and mediators can facilitate the harnessing of conflict into productive outputs.
Through listening to individual stories of conflict and analyzing emerging themes, we aim to identify the most common challenges that lead to conflict. These themes will then form the basis of a tailored team coaching workshop that will facilitate reflection, creative adaptation and action planning. https://www.level7live.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/General-team-conflict-flyer.pdf
We’d love to hear about your experiences of conflict in teams and how that conflict has been channeled into successful outcomes. Do get in touch with us to share ideas and help with our research. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The desire for organisations to innovate has become deeply embedded in the organisational psyche; whether that be private, public or not for profit type organisations. The word innovation appears in vision and mission statements, in lists of value statements and in key performance indicators. Innovation is the new ‘change’.
Level Seven has always been interested in helping organisations and individuals to be the best that they can be especially within the backdrop of improving innovation, leadership development and personal performance https://www.level7live.com/leading-the-human-interface-of-innovation/ As professionals working in the area of talent development, we use coaching and conflict resolution skills on a regular basis. https://www.level7live.com/conflict-resolution/
As a result, we have become increasingly fascinated by the systems within which people operate, in particular the impact of individuals on teams, and of teams on innovation performance. What has emerged for us is a strong interest in how positive conflict resolution can be applied in the context of innovation performance and team coaching.
Studies on innovation in the workplace have been conducted from many perspectives, including, business performance, leadership performance, team performance, individual creativity to name but a few. We are specifically interested in two areas that we believe impact on successful innovation performance. The first is how conflict in teams can be seen as a positive concept and second whether using a process of conflict mediation within a team can have a positive impact on innovation performance.
We are undertaking our own research project that focuses on the human factors of innovation in a team environment concerning relationship issues between different stakeholders. We will investigate what issues arise that put people into conflict with one another; how they have attempted to embrace these issues in positive ways whilst still working with the usual constraints such as budgets, timescales and evolving needs of users and customers. What are the stumbling blocks to successful innovation and what have teams done to overcome them? Drawing on models of team coaching, we will explore how these models can be synthesised into a process of conflict resolution such that the team’s innovation performance can be enhanced.
If you are located in or around Northamptonshire or Cambridgeshire and think that your teams would benefit from the insights that taking part in our team conflict resolution research can provide, please get in touch at email@example.com.