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Mindfulness and the Organization

There a range of different definitions and models ranging from “awareness” to multi-faceted models. Whilst “awareness” may appear to be rather simplistic it is clear that to be holistically aware we need to take account of self, others and the reality of the situation. At first this may appear to be easy,however we need to account our own experiences, judgements, transferences, the organisational culture in order to see the world as it is - and even then this is provisional as there are so many different perspectives on the world. These perspectives will also depend upon whether we come from an individualistic or communal culture.

When we are Mindful our stress will be reduced and we are more likely to operate at optimal levels. A clearer perspective requires an objective, non-judgemental stance. In Transactional Analysis terms this also means being OK/OK, which has been an important part of TA since its inception.

In order to be Mindful we need to be flexible. All too often when our plans don’t turn out we can become agitated, defeated, despondent and some just try harder to make things as they “should” have been rather than as they are. This is something that Lankford (2012) discusses in her article stating: “Think of Plan B not just as a way of responding to the unexpected (or “going with the flow”) but as a call to action. It is a chance to do something better to push ourselves to grow outside our comfort zones, to make new discoveries and change old habits...............

If we stick with Plan A, then each failure inspires an improved attempt to meet the original goal, and each step is a revision of the original hypothesis about how to achieve success...........When we go with Plan B, we choose not only to revise our methods but also to be open to the possibility of revising our goals”.

Being sufficiently flexible and moving into a Plan B - or even C - means that we have to account rather than discount.

Our life scripts are in essence Plan A. When we are in script we are fitting and bending reality to fit our script which involves discounting. In this way we can forget our true nature which is in our cellular memory. Our cellular memory plus physis is important in therapeutic endeavours. Lankford suggests that we should not believe everything we think! This follows Berne’s statement that:

“In order so say Hello, you first get rid of all the trash which has accumulated in your head ever since you came home from the maternity ward....” (1972)

The same is true of organisations. We cannot continue in the same way in a changing, complex world. We need to be cognisant of current realities whilst at the same time develop and maintain a sense of OKness and develop trust.

One of the difficulties with change is that people become scared that their current skills won’t fit or there will not be a place in the world (let alone the organisation) for them any longer. And here it is worth quoting the Proverb:

"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly" (in Lankford, 2012)


To account means that we need to:

  • be organized - so that we can respond efficiently to unexpected situations
  • remain centred and grounded
  • be prepared to consult and listen to others’ perspectives so that we have awareness of complexity
    (see The Winners Pyramid (Mountain A, 2004, 2011)
  • account those perspectives in decision-making
  • take responsibility for our actions
  • be ethical (see below)
  • ensure life balance
  • develop a sense of belonging with at least one group
  • develop a sense of community with the wider sub-culture of which we are a part.

In order to create a balanced world we need to consider the link between thinking, action and impact at all levels. One of the difficulties is that those who make the decisions are often divorced from feedback and without feedback there is no learning, which often means that organisations change toolittle too late. (Scharmer & Kaufer, 2013).

Have you dumped all the trash in your head?
Are you open and flexible about moving to Plan B?
Do you think Mindfulness is important for organisations?

Check out our Developmental/Organisational TA training now. Buy our book Working Together, Organizational Transactional Analysis and Business Performance for suggestions about how to improve your organisation and call us now +44 (0)1455 824475 for an informal conversation about how we might support you.


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