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I have written before about the need to embrace messy coherence or in more technical terms, coherent heterogeneity, a term I first encountered in the work of Dave Snowden. While most intuitively understand this need, how to achieve it practically remains elusive. We are emerging from a time where alignment and efficiency were pursued like the holy grail. The shift towards embracing messiness and diversity seems almost impossible, especially to leaders and managers who equate competence with control. Yet, I encounter similar questions in almost every conversation: how do we distribute decision-making and authority? How do we build strong coherent…

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In my previous post, I introduced Antonovski’s Sense of Coherence. In this one, I want to reflect on how I have been using it for sensemaking in organisational contexts.

First, a short recap. The Sense of Coherence (SoC) construct can be described as an orientation towards the world that perceives it, on a continuum, as comprehensible, manageable and meaningful. “SoC provides people with a general tendency to (i) make sense cognitively of unfamiliar situations; (ii) make sense instrumentally of how to access the resources required to cope and manage; and (iii) make sense emotionally of their motivation to act with…

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This week chaos erupted in my home country, South Africa. Theories abound over the dynamics, triggers, and reasons for the violence and destruction, but suffice to say, this is probably the worst times we’ve seen since the birth of our democracy. Everyone is trying to connect the dots, many claim to have seen it coming . I believe trying to find out who or what is to blame is the wrong question — this is deeply complex and messily tangled. Our issues are systemic, trying to find root causes will simply lead us down blind alleys. We need to see…

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I love to write; it is one of the primary ways that I make sense of things. Last year I felt that I never had the time or inspiration to write, so over the December holiday, I started a series of posts intending to explore various fields I have been interested in for a while. In the first post, I made it known publicly what the themes were and intended to write a series — hoping this would create an incentive and help me keep going. …

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While researching these posts, I encountered a whole host of new thinking about the changes needed to make group relations and systems psychodynamic work relevant in today’s fluid, virtual, and entangled world. Some of my previous posts also created interesting conversations on platforms like LinkedIn. All of this has sent my thinking in new directions, so I am changing tack a bit. Instead of doing more in-depth exploration on a single lens, I want to reflect instead on how we can spend time in the liminal and messy space between the various lenses and perhaps from there find adjacent possibilities.

My first experience of a Group Relations event was pretty“discombobulating”. It was like being dumped into a strange parallel universe filled with foreign language, frustrating “ consultants” and trying to find your way through perpetual confusion with a group of complete strangers. I threw myself into that context with no knowledge of the various theories that underpin the method. Maybe because of that, I was able to be in the moment, not in my head and therefore the learning about myself and my own patterns of relating were profound. After this experience I made a point of acquainting myself with…

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My first experience of a group relations conference and a systems psychodynamic consulting stance was weird and profoundly unsettling. It was also one of the richest learning experiences in my life. We spent five days in a state of confusion, ambiguity, and often deep frustration. The learning environment set up by the faculty felt artificial and rigid. We found ourselves in a world of rigidly held time boundaries, highly ambiguous instructions, and weird consultants that kept speaking in riddles (or what my husband called “Lord of the Rings language”). After a while, in this environment, defenses could no longer be…

As we enter the liminal time between 2020 and 2021, I find myself in a reflective yet restless frame of mind. It feels like I barely had time to think this year; looking back, 2020 seems like one long Zoom blur. Before we knew how disruptive it would turn out to be, I had many new ideas I wanted to explore at the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, many fell by the wayside. Some because of a lack of time, but mostly because I felt like I couldn’t string coherent thoughts together. …

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Presents/Presence by John O’Donohue

I give you an emptiness

I give you a plenitude

unwrap them carefully

-one’s as fragile as the other–

and when you thank me

I’ll pretend not to notice the doubt in your voice

when you say they’re just what you wanted.

Put them on the table by your bed.

When you wake in the morning

they’ll, have gone through the door of sleep

into your head. Wherever you go

they’ll go with you and

wherever you are you’ll wonder,

smiling about the fullness

you can’t add to and the emptiness

that you can fill.


Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexe

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

I have never been a big fan of linear models like the Kubler-Ross grief curve and all…

Sonja Blignaut

Enabling Responsive Organisations

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