The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Who is benefiting from the situation?

Jill had joined her new company a few months ago. In the preliminary conversations, they had discussed many different ideas creating a scene of opportunities for her. However, little had been defined clearly. As time passed by, she once in a while came back to some of the opportunities, trying to discuss them with her boss. Things remained vague.

When we started working together this had become a point of frustration for her and we decided to explore the situation. I asked her to take the perspective, that as dissatisfying the situation was, there must be some advantage in it.

It was easy for Jill to think about a diversity of advantages for the company. Some of the options would have given her more authority and thus independence in her decision-making. Other options would have meant that the positions around her would need to be shuffled. While all of these changes can be perfectly normal, they also mean that things change for others too.

The regular exchange with her boss was serving him, as they helped him figure out the course of action with her. At the same time, it helped him learn to know how Jill was acting and feel in control of the situation. He wasn’t ready yet to change the way he was leading her.

Shuffling other roles would have taken authority away from others. While they all were welcoming Jill, giving up parts of their authority wasn’t comfortable to them. It felt too much like losing some of their status. Her boss knew this and was avoiding the tensions that would have resulted.

As we continued the exploration we also found that there was also a benefit for herself. She wasn’t very clear yet about her ambitions. A decision in this situation would have meant that all the other possibilities she was imagining would disappear. By avoiding the decision she could continue to hope that things would materialize by themselves. By leaving things as they were she assumed that she wouldn’t make the wrong decision.

There is always a reason why things are as they are. It’s not always the obvious reason.




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