Organizational Consultation XXII: Empowerment (Part Two)

Organizational Consultation XXII: Empowerment (Part Two)

A third model combines written and verbal communication. Each presenter circulates an outline of the pertinent facts to be presented, then makes a brief oral presentation, and answers questions, clarifies points being made, and so forth. This procedure tends to insure that other participants receive the information, since it is being presented in two modes. However, this model is generally inefficient in terms of time required.

     A building block model is much more efficient than the previous three, but provides the leader with less control over the nature, extent, and accuracy of information that is taken from the meeting. Members of the group meet with two, three, or four other participants to exchange all pertinent information. One member of this group then synthesizes the information exchanged in this group and communicates this synthesis to the whole group or a larger subgroup, from which a synthesized report is generated that is conveyed to an even larger group. This method is particularly appropriate when a large number of people with pertinent information have been assembled.

This method is efficient not only because it enables the small group to consolidate redundant information, but also because it takes care of each group member’s need for airtime and interpersonal recognition without absorbing total group time and attention. Unfortunately, one runs the risk of losing vital or unique information from a particular individual when the synthesis takes place. Group reporters must be encouraged to identify not only common themes but also particularly insightful and provocative information that a single person has conveyed. This idiosyncratic information can be preserved even through several iterations of the synthesizing process, if the group reporters are trained and encouraged to look for differences as well as similarities.

The potential loss of significant information can be reduced even further by carefully planning for the composition of each subgroup. Optimally each subgroup should represent a diagonal slice of the organization, being composed of members from several different levels of and departments in the organization. At the very least, members of the group should be encouraged to work in the subgroups with people with whom they rarely work.


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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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