Delicate balance: what is it like for an organization consultant to work live?

Stuelten, Hartmut (2013) Delicate balance: what is it like for an organization consultant to work live? DProf thesis, Middlesex University / Ashridge Business School. [Thesis]

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People know what they do; they frequently know why they do what they do; but what they don't know is what what they do does. (Foucault cited in Shatter, 2011 p. 1)

In this thesis I aim to shed light on the practice of working live from within the continuous emergence of transitory moments in order to get into aware contact with what I experience in each moment of now and with what I want to contribute to emerge in the next moment. I do this from the vantage point of what I call the living process perspective, that is, regarding the 'moving but invisible' (Shotter citing Anderson, Ibid., p. 75) phenomena of human living such as self, mind, present moment, intention, change, relationship, group, and organization as complex responsive self-organizing processes happening within and between human bodies in their local situation in the present. I argue that in contrast to this view the conventional change methods treat the phenomena of human living as if they were objects that we possess, can steer and control, thus splitting the experiencer from the experience and not working from within what is subjectively happening within and between people here now and next. I explain that although living and thus changing happens constantly from emerging moment to emerging moment there is a fundamental difference between simply being situated in the present moment (as we all are) and being consciously aware of and engaged with our experiencing in the present moment. I show that for the process of relating to ourselves, each other and the world at large not to develop into repetitive or going-through-the-motions patterns consisting of largely unaware,- habitual and self-identical gestures and responses, but become consciously aware of and actively engaged with our actual experiencing of now and next, working from within the process of experiencing itself - a phenomenological-dialogical practice of engaging with our moment-to-moment experiencing I call working live - is essential for our relational processes to become 'free-flowing and flexible' (Stacey, 2003b p. 364) and thus remain fresh and alive within the ever-changing process of living. In essence, I demonstrate how the practice_ of working live can help organizational consultants to engage with the process of living, this continuous flow of

( ... ) first-time, unique events ( ... ) without "losing the phenomenon", that is, without losing the novelty expressed in first-time occurrence by assimilating it to already existing rules, principles, or conventions. (Shatter, 2011 p. 219, his emphasis)

I describe the practice of working live well as a conscious, embodied and improvisational, paradoxical moment-to-moment activity of being choiceful and deliberate while at the same time being spontaneous and intuitive. This is so because the transitory micro and macro outcomes of our individual and collective gestures can neither be controlled nor predicted, but can significantly impact people and the world at large. I then identify and describe the interrelated aspects constituting the essence of the experience of working live well.

I go on to show that through paying conscious attention to one's emerging 'transitory understandings and action guiding anticipations' (Shotter, 2011 p. 60} it becomes possible to realize that we have much more latitude in each moment as to what to do next then we often realize. I explain that this is so because the continuous and self-organizing social processes of human living have neither fixed, pre-determined and inevitable steps nor final end-states or ideal outcomes, but are simply constantly arising and disappearing transitory and unique micro manifestations. That means the process of changing from emerging moment to emerging moment is only conditioned to a certain degree by what has gone on before and by what is anticipated in the future - a phenomenological experience I call the five movements of the present moment - and therefore the future 'is partly open' (Griffin, 2007 p. 109) to what we want to contribute to help emerge next.

I conclude the thesis by identifying and describing the five working live practice routines of presencing, raising, thinking, reframing, and nexting.

I regard this thesis as a useful addition to the still small but steadily growing number of academic publications 4 related to the practice of working live focusing predominantly on abstract, theoretical reasonings and/or accurate this-is-what-is-going-on-now descriptions and therefore see the unique contribution of my from within exploration as taking a small step towards offering 'living pragmatics' (Varela, Thompson and Rosch, 1993 p. 22), that is, being useable by and useful 'for everyday work people who want to inquire into what is involved in having to think 'in the moment', while 'in motion,' both from within the midst of the complexity, and in relation to unique, never before encountered first-time events' (Shotter, 2011 p. 1, his emphasis).

Item Type: Thesis (DProf)
Sustainable Development Goals:
Research Areas: A. > Business School
B. > Theses
C. Collaborative Partners > Ashridge Business School
Item ID: 36902
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2022 11:00
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2022 11:37

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