Acquisition and the value paradox
October 13, 2006
Ah-kwee-zee-shon … our most hated/best loved four-syllable word, isn’t it? Went along for the ride yesterday. Even during an acquisition, which is essentially a business transaction, coaching skills come in handy: observing the client’s body language, checking your own expression and feeling, checking in and out of a group, etc.
What stays with me today is a paradox: we want the coaching to be based on our values, and of course we respect the private space in which coaching takes place. Companies are ambivalent: as a system, their instinctive drive is to protect their identity (often against the interest of an individual); at the same time, they are nothing without the individuals, who make up the whole. One obvious solution is to look at the values as the result of collective creativity and intelligence – instead of a top-down set of rules fertilised by corporate identity. This, however, would require that strategy is created everywhere in the organisation, not just at the top.
Which is how it is done in families: each sustainable decision made in a family is the result of input from all sides. Yes, the parents still have the responsibility, but wise parents test the waters first, they remain in touch with their children throughout the process, and they don’t stick to decisions that obviously harm the child.
Perhaps you think this is too simple a model for an organisation. But if we take the “learning organisation” and our insights from organisational constellations seriously, then the family model of the firm is not a bad one. There is, of course, the market, and lately the global market, which is used to justify the increasing gap between lower and upper levels in many companies. The result of this gap, however, is that companies loose strength in the market place. They do not use their greatest source of power: the loyalty that ties links all members of the system – including the deceased ones.