Healthy Organizations

If you have been reading here a long time, you know that I am a big fan of Steven M. Smith who I first discovered not quite a year ago when I was pondering some major organizational changes.

In response to my most recent post on What Not to Say, he left me a long and thought provoking comment that I thought was worth highlighting as a separate post.

Moving on to the broader issue of organizational culture, let me introduce you to the five freedoms that Virginia Satir believed created healthy organizations:

  1. The freedom to see and hear what is here, instead of what should be, was, or will be
  2. The freedom to say what you feel and think, instead of what you should
  3. The freedom to feel what you feel, instead of what you ought
  4. The freedom to ask for what you want, instead of always waiting for permission
  5. The freedom to take risk on you own behalf, instead of choosing to be only “secure” and not rock the boat

If you want to stay healthy, I suggest you closely monitoring which freedoms you are sacrificing in order to fit into your organizational culture. How many of these freedoms are you sacrificing now? How is that working for you (how do you feel about making those sacrifices)? I think you have encountered the foreign element. Will you choose to maintain the status quo? During chaos, It helps me to remember that adults are children grown up, which gives me permission to play.

The first thing that struck me about this comment was “I want to work there.” My second thought was “why the heck don’t all organizations (or families) operate this way?” My third and perhaps more actionable thought was “how can I help my organization or at least my little piece of our organization embrace these values?”

Steven M. Smith is coming to Denver for the Virginia Satir Global Network 2008 World Conference. While I don’t know that I can attend the whole conference, you can be certain that I’ll be signing up for his session on Experiencing the Satir Change Model.