Leading into the Future VI:  Postmodern Perspectives on Organizational Life

Leading into the Future VI: Postmodern Perspectives on Organizational Life

Storytelling and narrative are central to the postmodern condition. Stories are the lifeblood and source of system maintenance in organizations. The construction of stories about organizational successes and failures is key to the processes of personal and organizational transformation, much as the role played by remnants and enemies is central to the preservation of continuity and openness in the turbulent postmodern environment. We must find ways in which storytellers, remnants of a former era and even our enemies can become honored participants in organizational improvement efforts.

Covenant and Culture

The final postmodern topic concerns the establishment of commitment and reflection within organizations. Building on the concepts of organizational conversations, rogue events and transformations, and leaders as spiritual guides, this postmodern perspective on work and its value emphasizes the role of reflection in the improvement of individual or collective enterprise. While organizational transformation often seems thunderous, individual men and women walk silently into the world of personal transformation. Postmodern conditions usually require small steps toward renewal rather than elaborate plans. These conditions also require a shift to different levels of understanding and new modes of learning.

In the modern world, boundaries (and identities defined by roles and rules) served as containers of anxiety. In the postmodern world, we must look to an inner sense of self and to an outer structure of support and community for shelter, stability and insight in an edgy and turbulent world. At the heart of this process is a search for sanctuary. Sanctuaries may be found in physical locations (a retreat or mountain cabin), within one’s local surroundings (“a room of one’s own”) or within one’s self (a moment for reflection). Regardless of its location, a sanctuary involves the creation and maintenance of temporary settings in which people can reflect on and planning for second order changes, try out small first order changes, and experience supportive and renewing community.

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About the Author

William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations.

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