A concept exploring the parallels between the organs in our body, people in organisations, and coaching.

How often in conversation at work or in personal situations do you hear people use phrases that are associated with the body? For example – ‘it’s a gut feeling’; ‘you have an eye for this’; ‘your heart’s not in this’; ‘I can’t put my finger on it’; etc. I am sure there are plenty of other phrases you will be able to quote.

This exploration originates from thoughts about what a magnificent piece of kit our body is, how our complex body make-up has evolved over thousands of years and how it interconnects internally, so that when one part of the body is faulty, other parts step in to keep it functioning and adjust accordingly. The exploration was also reenergised having recently read Bill Bryson’s book ‘The Body’.

This led to thinking about what we can learn from how our body works and using analogies from it in everyday scenarios thus posing a series of questions –

“How healthy are you, how do you gauge this, and what do you do about it if you are not?” Then metaphorically “How healthy is your team, how do you guage that, ….etc.?” and “How healthy is your organisation, how do you gauge that, ….etc?”

The motivation for looking at this concept was to stimulate ideas using body organs as illustrations and metaphors –

  • to help one be aware of one’s health (‘how healthy are you?’);
  • to be consciously aware of the influence and impact one has on others;
  • to trigger/enrich thoughts about the impact one has on others within one’s team, especially if one is a leader (how healthy is your team?’);
  • to gauge the organisation’s effectiveness (‘how healthy is your organisation?’), this includes people at all levels and has an influence on the organisation’s direction/purpose.

‘RHYTHM OF BEING’ EXPLORATION

I had the privilege of leading a Group Coaching Supervision session recently on this concept with Trusted Coach Directory members (first group). I also shared the concept with a small group (second group) of highly respected international coaches and they shared their thoughts on it. This is a summary of those discussions as we explored this concept.

We discussed the theme previously written in an article entitled The Links Between Coaching and how our body works – see https://webb-development.co.uk/the-links-between-coaching-our-body/

In the first group, when asked ‘As a coach, if you represent an organ in the body that keeps it functioning, which organ would you be?

Their responses included –

  • the Heart – instinctive; an electric pulse keeps our heart beating and after each heartbeat there can be a slight pause before the next beat. As a coach we need to allow for a pause, silence, before continuing our questioning thus allowing the coachee to think.
  • the windpipe – breathing in, taking courage
  • the gut – going on intuition, feeling
  • the ear – listening, balance
  • the skin – sensing what is around you
  • the thyroid – controlling the speed of your metabolism; coaches help support people’s energy levels

The conversation then progressed to acknowledging that all our organs are interconnected – we cannot have one without the other.

The second group’s discussion took the theme on a different journey.

The question was raised ‘is it a model or a metaphor?’ The conclusion was that it is a metaphor (a vehicle) to help people think about something in a more connected way, both in more detail, and more holistically. It was suggested that rather than creating a model, different simple scenarios could be created for different organs, either collectively or individually. Rather than have them as a document have them created as a story-board that your clients/teams could then take and adapt for a particular situation they might have.

It was suggested that this concept is systemic in that it relates to a system, as opposed to a particular part.

One comment was that ‘we take so much of our body for granted, until something goes wrong; we should think about what we are doing and the impact it has on our body. As a coach, we could represent different organs, depending on the coachee’s situation and what they are wanting to focus on.’

The concept could make people think differently as our body is something we can all relate to. It  relates to the Eco System “It’s About Us”, rather than our Ego System “It’s About Me”.

A definition of an ‘ecosystem’ is – a community or group of living organisms that live in and interact with each other in a specific environment.

 OUTCOMES FROM EXPLORATION

 The original title of ‘Double O’ (Organism and Organisation) in previous articles, is no longer an appropriate title. Clive Steeper and Sue Stockdale, part of the second group, commented that an alternative theme title could be “Being”. ‘It’s about how people are being (and have been plus want to be/will be). The backdrop is the human being and the perspective of the whole being – that people in an organisation are systemic and able to have somatic intelligence.’

Each organ plays a vital role in enabling our body to function and each one can be used as a metaphor when highlighting a point, e.g. Skin, Neurons, Synapse.

Here are some examples of organs and how they could be used as a metaphor for a team or an organisation. It could also be used to illustrate part of a business, e.g. Real Estate/Property Management.

All the organs in our body are interconnected and interdependent. The idea that this concept is similar to an ‘ecosystem’ endorses that, as a person being an organ in this context, we are all interdependent on each other at work and in our personal lives. It challenges us, when interacting with people at work or in our personal lives, to consider what impact we are having on them.

I invite you to play with these metaphors and use them as you find useful. If this article triggers any other relevant thoughts, do get in touch. This is a continuing journey of exploration.

My thanks go to all those who were involved in the Trusted Coach Directory group session, to Simon Hague, Clive Steeper, Sue Stockdale, Carole Thelwall-Jones, and Alex Thompson, and to Rosemary Webb for editing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jon Webb PCC FIOH MWIFM (UK based Leadership Coach and Coaching Supervisor)

Jon is an award-winning Facilitator, Leadership and Team Coach, and Coach Supervisor with considerable experience in team development, coaching, customer service, and personal development, working with organisations in the UK and internationally.

His aspiration is to enable people to achieve their true potential that they may not be aware of, by challenging, encouraging and supporting them, and in turn enabling them to share their energy, enthusiasm and motivation with others to provide a positive environment for people they work and share their lives with.