Individuation, Abstract Art and Corporate Learning (Part 2)

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The question I raised in my last post is ‘What is the implication of the individuation concept to corporate learning?’ The individuation is the ultimate developmental work (psychologically).   Ideally, a more self-harmonious and self-aware individual would contribute better to the workplace.

My first thought to the question is that most corporates would not really care.   In my experience, corporates expect return on investment in learning (in fact any other areas) in a relatively short period of time, with high certainty of success and value directly applicable to work.   The ideal is like having a Microsoft Excel workshop with what a participant can then use the Project Tracker template on his product development project the day after the workshop.    So, the challenges are:

  1. Time – Work on depth psychology takes time. Psycho-analysis or therapy takes months.
  2. Certainty – Some argue that the degree of ‘success’ varies. At least, it seems to be less scientific than traditional developmental interventions e.g. coaching, training, which are already difficult to evaluate
  3. Value – To individuate, becoming more ‘whole’, is not regarded as ‘valuable’ at work in most corporates. The quote from Henry Ford illustrates the extreme ‘Why is it every time I ask for a pair of hands, they come with a brain attached?’

And 2 more challenges come to my mind:

  1. Branding – Concepts like ‘Depth Psychology’, ‘Dream Analysis’ are generally associated with mental illness – not exactly an attractive ‘branding’ for corporate executives as most are (or would like to be seen as) tough-minded.
  2. Preparedness – Learning professionals are generally not prepared for and told not to step into the Psycho-analysis or therapy area. Instead, some companies engage external counselling services for those who needs help.    (Again, work on depth psychology is associated to be something ‘negative’.)

In short, it seems unlikely corporates will one day run interventions dedicated to work on depth psychology e.g. a workshop called ‘How to individuate’ (!).    Yet,

  • Teal – There are movements in the world which embraces ‘wholeness’ as researched and described in the book called ‘Reinventing Organisation’.   See the summary in this Strategy+Business article.    In short, such Teal organizations encourage people bring all of themselves to work – their moods, aspirations, uncertainties.   So, point 3 above is less an issue.
  • Different Form – In fact, some Jungian theories have penetrated into corporate learning very successfully….. not in the form of psycho-analysis or therapy.   MBTI is an outstanding example (though under a lot of scrutiny these days).   It is said to be used by about 80% of Fortune 100 companies.    See Forbes article here.   We individuate as we attend to our inferior functions in MBTI.
  • Design Consideration – I think it will still be beneficial to take into account the individuation process in designing developmental interventions in corporates.   First, it is about how middle-age (35-45) learners develop themselves, say, compared to the late 20s / early 30s.     With the individuation process, the middle-age learners are likely more receptive to open reflective space rather than content-filled experience.   In fact, they may even need the reflective space.   They would also be more receptive to work on self-awareness and mindset (way of thinking) rather than skill-set (way of doing)

Overall, I sense that there are other things going on between the depth psychology world and corporate learning / development.   I am curious.   What do you see?    And what do you think is possible?

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