We all have moments that profoundly change us. For me, defining experiences have included living and working in a remote Tanzanian village, and birthing my children at home using hypnotherapy. To my delight, the discovery of Organization and Relationship Systems Coaching (ORSC) concepts was another. Each of these experiences changed my worldview and how I showed up in the world.
The ORSC philosophy of Relationship Systems Intelligence (RSI) colours everything I do, and I find it fascinating to explore how other professionals are using these strategies in their lives and work.
“There are no facts, only interpretations.”
• Friedrich Nietzsche
Erkan Kadir, an agilist and ORSC coach, agrees that learning about ORSC can be transformative.
Whether you call him an agilist, an agile coach or enterprise coach, Erkan’s task is to foster high-performance, self-organizing teams. Today’s rapidly changing markets and expectations mean that organizations must be able to pivot quickly and thrive in uncertainty. Agile creates a flexible culture within the organization.
Although it increases interactions and collaboration between team members, it does not focus on how to develop and maintain the strong relationships that are required. For Kadir, ORSC provides that competence and skill.
“I like to think of ORSC as a different lens for looking at the world, one that gives you a richer and wider perspective to understand what’s going on between yourself and others. Once you look through that lens, it’s hard to turn it off.”
• Erkan Kadir
“So in a way, I’m always using ORSC in my professional and personal life,” he says.
The evolution from a traditional, top-down business model to an agile culture can be a stretch for everyone involved. Leaders often find it particularly challenging, as they transition from being the recognized expert to the person who catalyzes and motivates change in others.
“As an agile transformation consultant, it’s important for me to model the new style of leadership that we’re encouraging organizations to adopt – specifically, leveraging coaching to help influence and grow other people without the direct use of power,” Erkan says. “I bring my ORSC dojo with me wherever I go. It seems like there’s a tool for any occasion that you find yourself in.“
“A coaching engagement is either set up for success or failure before you even go in, depending on how you enter the system. ORSC provides so much guidance on how to do that really skillfully.”
“To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.”
• Stephen R. Covey
Strategic leader Nicole Schaefer uses ORSC in an entirely different context. An innovator who loves to challenge the status quo, Nicole layers ORSC ideas in a strategy she calls equine-assisted coaching.
Her partners in this endeavour are her two horses, Tosca and Dinah. Dinah is very social and keen to meet people, while Tosca is an introverted observer who takes her time when entering a new situation. As she got to know the horses, Nicole realized that training these very distinct personalities involved interacting with each one differently. That started her thinking about leadership and personal development.
“It teaches me a lot about who I need to be in certain situations. How do I need to act? How do I need to react? What’s the energy level I need around each of them?” she says. “I thought, if I get so much out of that and [the horses] teach me so much, there must be something that other people would get from that relationship too.”
Frequently, ORSC reveals the undercurrents of relationship. Exploring what remains unspoken can have a dramatic effect. The special talent of the horses lies in their ability to reveal emotional energy. While a traditional coach might ask new clients what they wish to explore, Nicole instead uses the first interaction with the horses to see what shows up.
“Being the amazingly talented catalysts they are, the horses are tuned into the energy and what’s going on. It helps uncover and highlight something that’s going on in the person’s life. Then I can help with that discovery. It’s a less targeted, more exploratory and experiential way of coaching.”
• Nicole Schaefer
Nicole says she integrates ORSC skills and tools into her work with the horses, using aspects of tools such as the Third Entity, Alignment Work, Relationship Myth in her equine-assisted technique. She believes her strategies can be useful for teams as well as individuals.
“There are things that team members explore while working with the horse that they can translate to how they work as a team in the workplace, or how they work as a family,” says Nicole. “The horse will again be an amplifier or a catalyst for showing what the whole team dynamic is about, so team members don’t focus too much on themselves or on their relationship to each other, but understand how the entire team is moving together.”
Learning to communicate without language brings another level of complexity to the interaction.
“The horse picks up on your body language, your feelings and your energy. You need the non-verbal communication to make it clear to the horse what your desire is, and the verbal communication to communicate with your partners or teammates what you’re trying to do. Maybe there’s non-verbal communication you’re not even aware of, and if your body speaks a different language, your teammates can get as confused as the horse does,” she says.
Exploring that complexity can add another level of clarity. It reveals what’s truly going on and brings to the surface what may be a hidden pattern.
“No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.”
• Ansel Adams
The more often that I use these concepts in training others, the keener I am to hear about how they are evolving to suit various situations. Perhaps the true power of ORSC lies in the ability to understand and create our own version of relationship and the vision that we hold for ourselves and our teams.
Kerry Woodcock, Ph.D., leads change for a world of change, coaching pioneers and influencers to amplify the power of relationship and lead over the edge of change. As principal of Novalda, Kerry develops change leadership capability in organizations and social systems. Kerry is privileged to be CRR Global’s Canadian partner, bringing the magic-making ORSC training across the country.