In ancient times, the Oracle of Delphi in ancient Greece admonished "Know thyself."
In more recent times, two psychologists, Joe Luft and Harry Ingham, created the JOHARI window to help us do just that, develop greater self insight.
Having more self understanding is vital to anyone in a helping profession such as OD work.
Minneapolis area consultant John Persico published an essay on what it takes for an organization to really be effective. In essence, Persico says, organizations must become more self-aware. Especially about their own built-in blind spots. He says:
"...most organizations are blind to the intrinsic problems that underlie their failures."
What is an organization to do? Persico offers some good ideas, including listen to your dissenters and "embrace your difficult people."
Here are five more tips that I would add:
Get feedback from others - The Scottish poet Robert Burns once pointed to the value of finding out how others perceive us when he wrote "O, wad some Power the giftie gie us/To see oursels as others see us!/It wad frae monie a blunder free us,/An' foolish notion." The gift he refers to we now call feedback. Honest, clear feedback from a trusted source can help free us "from blunders and foolish notions" of our own creation.
Ponder JOHARI - Persico uses the JOHARI window in his article to help explain the different domains of information that exist about ourselves. One of the great things about the JOHARI concept is how it opens our minds to the awareness that others know things about us that we do not know (the "blind spot") and that there is information about us that neither we nor others know (the "unknown" area). The process of increasing self-awareness includes pondering what lies in these panes.
Take a trip to another country - Have you ever experienced the thrilling discomfort that comes from taking a trip to another country? Especially one where you don't speak the language. Somehow or other, you have to confront the challenge to get by and survive. In the process of overcoming this adversity, you realize a great deal about Who You Are, and what you are capable of when pushed way out of your comfort zone. Travel is a great teacher of humility.
Increasing mindfulness - The Zen practice of mindfulness cultivates a tranquil attentiveness to the constant traffic flow of thoughts going on within us. The more we practice this , the more we can step back a bit and establish a degree of objectivity toward ourselves. We can start to notice, for example, the triggers that set us off in some of our relationships. Or the value judgments we make about others. Or about ourselves.
Listening more deeply - Seems to me that we really have to learn to listen much more deeply than we usually do.
Listening to others, for the signals they send about us. The quote from the Scottish poet Burns is apt here. What a gift it is indeed to see ourselves as others see us.
Listening to one's coaches and mentors who can provide us with incisive feedback.
Listening to one's customers, especially their complaints, which can lead to improvements.
We also really have to learn how to listen to ourselves. This has many dimensions. Listening to our bodies, for example.
Listening (as Marshall Goldsmith suggests) to our 90 year old self.
Listening to our inner child.
Listening to our better angel.
Terrence Seamon helps others to reach their goals. Follow him on twitter @tseamon and facebook Facilitation Solutions.