Photo by Jake Lucifer  on Unsplash

Thinking about the applications of Liminal Coaching and referring back to my own previous career in information technology and change I thought I would create this post to give an example of what I mean about consciousness being the next breakthrough competitive advantage.

A couple of years ago I had a guest stay with me who was a senior marketing consultant. He had been hired by a large multinational company with more than 20,000 employees to work with the business development team. The aim of their work was to look at different initiatives for increasing market share in particular geographies.

A number of different possibilities had been identified and explored and it was now time to whittle down the number of possibilities. The first thing the very senior business development team did was to go through the list of potential programs and to give each one a score indicating the degree of dependency on the Information Technology (IT) division.

All the projects with the greater degrees of dependency on IT were moved to the bottom of the list. And in one fell swoop, they removed key opportunities.

This organization prided itself on being forward-looking, human centred, socially responsible and generally expected to be recognized as a top quality organization at which it was a privilege to work.

Actually, it ran mainly on fear. The reaction of the IT division to changes of any type was always defensive in the extreme. This had nothing to do with incompetence, lack of vision or insufficient skill. It had everything to do with the people in IT being frightened of the potential consequences of taking risks.

As it happened, I had spent several years attempting to introduce business-sponsored change into a major system at this very organization, with the same end result. Even our attempt at a pilot initiative was blocked. Everything we tried was stalled or stonewalled by the IT division at every conceivable turn.

That is not to indict all the people working in the IT and infrastructure division because they were responding fairly rationally to what they knew to be a very real danger: if they took any risks and anything went wrong, they would be subject to severe censure.

So both the business side of the organization and the infrastructure and IT side of the organization were locked into a reciprocating cycle of negativity. From a business viewpoint, the IT department was the biggest problem associated with any initiative. From the viewpoint of IT, the business always wanted changes and it lacked any understanding of the implications involved. Further, the business leaders were always quick to point the finger of blame if anything went wrong. Sadly, this was then compounded by a shared sense that all of this was hopelessly inevitable.

This is hardly unique to IT and Business but operates across many different silos and fiefdoms in many organizations. There are ingrained and established response patterns at work here. Patterns which are triggered at an unconscious level where basic threats are identified and responses triggered.

Now envision an organization where this is not the case; a place where there is positive, helpful engagement in achieving a business outcome. Where you don’t have to throw away many man-years of work and research because the people who need to act are too frightened to do so.

This is the core value of Liminal Coaching. It can provide the means to rewire ingrained response patterns centred around the amygdala and allow people to move into a different way of relating and collaborating.

Of course, that’s not a magic bullet. We don’t offer to transform your organization by simply implementing a new management structure. We don’t pretend that it’s genuinely possible to just re-engineer all your processes according to optimum logical analysis. And we don’t tell you that all you need to do is work on the conscious attention of your management team or better engage your employees with value statements and a total quality focus.

We address the root causes of fear and anxiety that lead to the deeply ingrained and damaging loops that we saw in the story above.

Liminal Coaching directly enables culture change processes to succeed by enabling key individuals to reach as deeply into themselves as into the toolbox of change mechanisms.

This requires an approach to Culture Change which recognizes and integrates the fundamental importance of key senior staff and their degree of self awareness.

We believe that well conceived and motivated culture change programs coupled with Liminal Coaching can deliver breakthrough competitive advantage.