Sunday, February 1, 2009

Learning With Empathy and Organizational Development

I can not imagine what makes some people do what they do. I want to understand but how do I reach into their heads? How do you become empathetic and walk in the shoes of another? This entire line of questioning is important for the growth and development of individuals and organizations. The organization is now more frequently being perceived to embody many of the characteristics of an individual and therefore must be approached and viewed as one would another single human being. This process complicates the already difficult task of being empathetic on a one-to-one situation.

I am due to observe tomorrow at a local high school from the viewpoint of a technology coordinator. I will ask some basic questions about chain of command and duties then work towards pinpointing deeper personal attitudes about how things work. I will hopefully spend ample time shadowing the individual while also devoting at least a couple of hours towards observation of the organization as a whole. I have been invited to attend a staff meeting and will undoubtedly be immersed in a short but intense preview of what the pulse of the organization is about.

It is difficult to not make assumptions and develop a mindset of what to expect. The term "entrenched bureaucracy" comes to mind any time I think of an organization. This bias is truly entrenched into my being as I have struggled through my own educational career as a teacher and student. I will make every effort to clear the slate and approach my observation in a somewhat ethnographic sense, observing the cultures and values of the people in the organization, while hopefully remaining objective. I am curious how these notes will look tomorrow after the observation.

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