Facilitator Journal | Issue #0453, July 20, 2010
Often we are called in to facilitate organizational interventions
by organizations that are "sick," meaning that their dysfunction
has become so untenable that something simply must be done about
it..."Our organization is broken and we need to fix it!"
Pressured for a quick fix, we are often challenged to stand by approaches
we know to be effective. In this week's article, Don't be
an Allopathic Facilitator, we explore strategies to maintain
a holistic approach to your interventions.
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be an Allopathic Facilitator
by a holistic approach to your interventions.
Self Management Skill
Allopathic: The Western Medical model in use today, is based upon
the concept that the physician is responsible for the healing, and that
"disease" must be eradicated from the body using heroic intervention.
I chose to use this term to describe an issue that often befalls us in
our efforts to facilitate organizational interventions. We're often called
in by organizations that are "sick," meaning that their dysfunction
has become so untenable that something simply must be done about it..."Our
organization is broken and we need to fix it!" Let me provide a metaphorical
Some people mindlessly eat fast food and ice cream sundaes for years until
one day diabetes sets in or their heart stops. They rush off to the hospital
to get "fixed," with little thought about how they've been responsible
for the day to day actions they took or didn't take that facilitated this
Just as we can ignore our bodies needs at the expense of our physical
health, some of us ignore ours and others emotional and social needs,
at the expense of building our technical capacities, only to find one
day that no one can work with this technical "genius" because
now he's an emotional moron. Further, because the leaders for whom these
individuals work have not been willing to moderate their venom for others,
they now feel it's time to call in the "doctor." Someone with
the power to hire and fire, whose given up the power to manage ineffective
behavior, now feels it's time to have an expert come in to fix the problem!
So we get the call. Organization "ABC" wants us to come
in and fix their severe dysfunction that's threatening this project or
that. They want you to come in and give a one-day training in communication
skills because that's what seems to be lacking around here with "these"
You're tempted to say yes as this is a well-paying piece of work and well,
you need work and you can come up with a great training agenda, deliver
what they've asked for and be done with it. But in your heart, you know
that this problem is far more complex than a simple training can remedy
and contains issues, yet to be discovered, that will dictate alternative
Please fix this for us. It is central to Allopathic belief that
the disease is stronger than the body, and that man must decipher disease
processes and develop specific treatments for each disease.
But even in Allopathic medicine, the diagnosis is left to the physician.
Often as facilitators, we're called in to deliver the treatment diagnosed
by the leader. Not only is the leader seldom equipped to render this diagnoses,
they are often a contributing aspect of the disease.
Natural and Holistic practitioners maintain that it's the body itself
that does the healing, not the doctor. The disease itself represents a
body out of balance, or simply one that has reached the point where it
can no longer compensate or maintain homeostasis given the level of toxicity,
deficiency, or neglect.
Be a Holistic Facilitator. Set the tone for the organization to
heal itself by NOT coming into it as an expert. Show up instead with an
attentive presence and clear desire to support their healing, self-awareness,
and growth. Engage with your clients more as a student rather than an
Listen to the Patient. The people in the system know better than
anyone what's wrong in the system and with the system. Before diving into
a pre-prescribed training or intervention, interview all the people involved
at all the levels possible to get their candid reading on what's going
Facilitate Commitments from Management. Many problems with teams
in organizations are reflections of problems with management. Unless management
is willing to acknowledge this and take the first steps to changing, systemic
change is unlikely. Coach them to discover how they are contributing to the problem and encourage
them to change first.
Discover Barriers to Wellness. Help the team clarify their positive
vision for their organization and to discover the barriers to this vision.
Facilitate their development of solutions and their commitment to action,
including systems of accountability and measurement of progress.
Let Training/Coaching Needs Show Themselves. Prescribe training
and coaching interventions after you and the group is clear on where it
needs help. When they tell you what they need to learn and where they
need support, they'll be ready to receive it.
What if They Want the Allopathic Approach? I understand that many
organizations may not accept the above approach and will pass you over
looking for an expert to quickly come in and solve their problem. In this
case you have a choice, to pass on the work or try to bring some holism
in with your "solution."
Assuming you choose the latter option, do all you can to manipulate the
schedule and apply the above strategies, explaining all the while the
benefits (long term, real solutions) that will most likely result from
a more holistic approach.
Add Your Comments
do you deal with pressures to be an Allopathic facilitator? How can you
become more Holistic in your approach? Please click on the Add Your Comments link above and share your thoughts, stories, and experiences around this topic. I'd love to hear from you!
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