The Shadow Side of an Organisation

What are some of the assumptions that constitute the deepest inner core of your organisation and the way that it functions? These assumptions are not the ones that are visible to those on the outside. You would absolutely have to be an insider to know ‘this’ about an organisation and the way that it operates.

Since many of these assumptions are taken as given, they are invisible–and therefore insidious–to those on the inside as well. These are the unconscious behaviours and thought patterns that rush to the frontline when the institution needs to protect itself from either real, imaginary or proximate threats.

This is the Shadow Side of the organisation and how it operates. While not all insiders will ever subscribe to all of the beliefs in the Shadow, they will be exposed to them and subscribe to them to a certain degree. Following on from that, unless we change the deeper mindset and culture within an organisation; the alternation or regulation of external factors will not prevent a similar crisis from occurring in the future.

Most of the assumptions we have to dismantle or acknowledge are a natural result of the narrow-mindedness and insularity that comes with groupthink. This, in turn, is a reflection of the narcissism that is characteristic of so many of today’s institutional and organisational cultures.

These assumptions and beliefs, however, are rarely recognised for what they are: defence mechanisms. This is one of the reasons why these insidious and invisible Shadow aspects of an organisation are so difficult to acknowledge, let alone change.

But when we do acknowledge the shadow within, we are finally able to accept and come to terms with who we truly are. We are able to take an honest look in the mirror and therefore are finally free to communicate freely.

To do this, however, an organisation must confront its shadow. History shows that financial systems based on a set of dubious assumptions and erroneous beliefs are not sustainable over the long haul. For any system to work, it has to be a trust-based system. We ignore the assumptions that are truly running the show at our own peril.

One false assumption that tends to be hammered into us regardless of the organisation that we’re working for is that we need to perpetually, constantly and consistently be moving ahead.

This is not possible for anyone nor any organisation. There will simply exist periods where things are standing still and periods where losses are incurred due to a crisis.

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