Dr Brigid Nossal is the Director of Nioda Consulting and Deputy CEO. She is also a co-founder of the Institute. Brigid has worked as a consultant to organisations for over 25 years. She specialises in leadership development, business improvement and work culture diagnosis & transformation through Executive Coaching, Role analysis and action learning oriented consulting interventions. Applied systems psychodynamics is central to her work.
Podcast episode summary: In this episode Brigid explains what is meant by Applied Systems Psychodynamics and her approach with clients and especially teams. She shared an important framework that is readily available online by The Grubb institute called the Transforming Experience Framework . Essentially what presents as an issue on teams is really a symptom masking important other considerations such as context, the system and an individual’s experience of their role. Brigid talked about structural defences, anxiety, role clarity and what might be unconscious to a team.
Points made through the episode:
- 3 Pillars comprise Systems Psychodynamics- Group Behaviour, The Unconscious and Systems thinking
- Often teams rely on Brigid and Nioda when other more obvious or tried practices have been employed. They do their best work when it is felt that there is something more going on that needs a fuller exploration
- Clients need to be curious and willing to explore or led into a deeper enquiry. Often art is employed as is particular forms of questioning
- She might ask “draw a picture of your experience of your role” or draw a picture of your experience of this team etc..
- The Transforming Experience Framework looks at roles by considering 3 dimensions, a person’s individual context, the wider context and the system in which a member plays with the intersection representing how they occupy their role
- Brigid shared an example of a team where they were troubled by stress in conflict but under examination realised that their system was inhibiting performance
- Similaraly structural defences can unwillingly contribute to a decline in performance when designed for a positive impact
- Material to consider below the surface can often mean confusion about roles, clarity about purpose or direction that have yet to be made explicit.
- Often very basic questions on role clarity are missed at induction. People are asked to assume their roles with little orientation or expectation management
- Brigid finds it uncanny how often team members do not know how the other conceives of their role, what they actually do, and what capability they bring to the team and organisation. More enquiry is needed
- Humans operate with a level of anxiety. Our fear of fear is often greater in our imagination than in reality. We cook up a lot of imaginary fear as humans.
- There is always a child in us that never grows up and it is important to appreciate that our stories can have us, especially in high stakes.
Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation
- A case study on the functioning of Social Systems as a defence against anxiety by Isabel Menzies and available online at http://hum.sagepub.com/content13/2/95