Translating Systems Approach to Family Therapy to Organizations LO24129

From: Winfried Dressler (
Date: 03/07/00

Replying to LO24111 --

>It is possible to see many organizations as dysfunctional families, and
>many group dynamic comparison can be made. Leader as father figure, etc.
>My question: from all of your experience, will the corporate world reject
>the idea of working with a social worker with a family therapy background,
>regardless of his national reputation as a trainer, and how effectively we
>are able to feature his organizational model?


Before you have posed your question, you have introduced a metaphor for an
organization: a dysfunctional family. Metaphors are very powerful and are
widely used in family therapy context. But in family therapy context,
'dysfunctional family' is not a metaphor. It is the to-be-changed-reality
using metaphors as intervention.

My experience is that the toolbox of systemic interventions can be also
very powerlul in organizations, but the (subjective) reality of an
organization must be elizited even more carefully than that of a specific
family. SO: I don't think that corporate world would reject working with
social worker and family therapy background people in general (and those
who do wouldn't be your target group). BUT: If that person views
organizations as dysfunctional families, carrying not only his toolbox but
also his old context with him, he will be rejected by all companies that
do not want to be treated as dysfunctional families (and I wonder whether
the latter really want to be cured).

In order to assess the person in question, I would use my nose to smell. I
would reject the motivation to copy success from one to another context. I
would wellcome the motivation to grow into a much broader context and to
learn deeper and create a much richer picture of what is dear to him.

With respect to metaphors of organizations, I recommend two books by
Gareth Morgan: Images of Organization and The Art of Creative Management.

Hope this helps you with your question.

Liebe Gruesse,



"Winfried Dressler" <>

[Host's Note: In assoc with, these links...

Images of Organization by Gareth Morgan

Images of Organization : The Executive Edition [ABRIDGED] by Gareth Morgan

Imaginization : The Art of Creative Management by Gareth Morgan


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