Learning during "Burn Out" LO22459

Roy Greenhalgh (rgreenh@ibm.net)
Wed, 18 Aug 1999 09:19:45 +0100

Replying to LO22456 --

Bill's email articulates a recurring problem, especially with small
consultants, i.e. where there are only 2 or 3 consultants in the company.
There is neither the capacity to put a unique team onto each project, nor
is there any reserve. Fatigue and, worse still, real burn out are constant

In my own small company (there are two of us), we deliberately ensure that
project start-ups never coincide. We try to phase work such that
start-ups can be run with nothing else happening. We work hard to give
empty time between projects, at the cost of turning down work at times!
And project reviews, both with the client and amongst we two are reserved,
scheduled times. Again, we will try and delay the next start-up so that a
review/debrief can be held in a calm, quiet and relaxed atmosphere. The
calm and unpressured debrief following a previously agreed programme or
agenda is critical if we are to learn from our last assignment.

And yes.. we don't always succeed. Panic is a well known word with us.

Thinking about Bill's question caused me to ponder how other small groups
such as string quartets, string trios even, cope with long tours with
performances 5 nights out of 7 for a number of weeks. How do touring
theatrical and dance companies cope with extreme fatigue and early burn
out? Little is written by quartets; less by theatrical producers about
this aspect of their work. And what is available seems to be highly
polished stuff. But interviews on tv and PSB arts programs have given
valuable insights into how the members of a small intense group do manage
to relax and actively manage around burn-out. I must talk to a friend who
is a producer for music programmes with BBC TV in the UK!!

And a third viewpoint. I recall reading about a group of consultants who
had started to work together in their last year at university. They had
stayed together throughout their working years, and at the time of
describing how things were, were in their early 40's. They had spent so
much time together, learning from and with each other all the time. They
knew each other so so well. And they could enter into discussions about
feelings towards each other that, frankly had me squirming with great
unease. And yet this was their saving grace. They could, without
damaging the relationships between themselves, really tackle
disfunctioning and dis-ease early on, and set about healing the ailment
that was emerging. Burn-out suggests that nothing has been done early on
in the sequence of events, that diagnosis of the deteriorating state of
the colleague wasn't recognized, and not tackled.

-- Roy Greenhalgh


Roy Greenhalgh <rgreenh@ibm.net>

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