Here we take a look at a new coaching method goes straight to the collective unconscious of family businesses, revealing the key to successful intergenerational transition.
The related challenge for specialists in family governance is to identify barriers to emotional ownership
that disengage the next generation. For the current generation, response to the climate crisis is a crucial
determinant – but few businesses are equipped to understand the dynamics governing their survival in
the face of this generational challenge.
Combining drawing and genogram in coaching
Clients’ tendency to treat their business as ‘part of the family’ signals a potentially fertile line of enquiry
into the character of this ever-present relative – and individuals’ emotional bond with it over time. What
insights can we gain by treating an organization as another family member? In my study, I explore ways
to understand the lived emotional relationships of individual actors, not only with each other but also
with their own image of the family business through time.
A psychodynamic coach seeks the most direct path to the unconscious, and employs tools that capture
conscious cognition so that the unspoken can emerge. Two such tools are the drawing – frequently
used to access non-verbal, unconscious narratives, and the genogram – a pictorial family tree that
reveals the dynamics of relationships across generations. Both are commonly used by trusted advisors
in family business governance.
My study is the first to merge the two methods to create an entirely new psycho-genealogy tool: taking
the persona of the organization as revealed by the drawing and using the genogram to locate it in an
individual’s unfolding constellation of family relationships over a 20-year period.
The genogram is widely and successfully used not only to explore the relationships and conflicts
affecting a family’s governance, but also to facilitate discussion about its future. The method has a
hidden flaw however: by reducing an organization to the sum of its individual actors’ relationships the
method fails to account for their emotional link with the family business itself, as they perceive it.
Merging the genogram with the drawing tool illuminates this hidden relationship and allows us to
analyse its influence upon psychological currents in the family and wider organization. I will show how
this can be done with a four-step process in the research paper below: