The title for this blog came to me one day when I was reflecting on my work. I’ve worked in HR and organisational change for most of my career and this, in many ways, is like being on the bridge of ship. From this vantage point you can see most of the organisation, although what is hidden ‘below deck’ may not be immediately apparent. However, if something goes wrong – some part of the ‘machinery’ breaks down, or a proverbial valve blows, you hear about it pretty quickly.
As a consultant, I get a privileged perspective of an organisation. I’m able to see all the various functioning parts; the people, the policies, processes and the systems. At the same time, I can see what’s going on in the external environment. Having the ‘view from a bridge’ allows me to observe an organisation and its culture, without becoming too entrenched.
This leads me to another analogy of ‘a view from a bridge’. In his book, ‘It’s all in the mind’, John Purkiss describes a technique that can be used to help you mediate. Whenever a thought pops into your head, you try to visualise yourself standing on a bridge, watching your thoughts float away down the river. By observing your thoughts, not engaging with them, you can bring yourself back to a state of mindfulness.
I find I work best as a consultant when I can be a bit removed from the internal politicking. I observe, I engage, I advise, and I support – but, at the end of the day, I need to maintain a sense of impartiality and take that ‘view from a bridge’. From here, I can keep one eye on the horizon and the other on what’s beneath my feet. Hopefully, that helps me to support the organisation and its people to effectively navigate into calmer waters.