Tongued with Fire

Tongued with Fire by W. Gordon Lawrence W. Gordon Lawrence’s peerless collection of papers on consultancy and group relations is utterly awe inspiring! The spiritual dimension of his thinking, exemplified in ‘The politics of salvation and revelation in the practice of consultancy’, speaks to the very heart of our current global institutional crises. He calls for a greater emphasis on mutuality, interdependence and support of role-holders rather than a reliance on competition, conflict and aggression to complete primary tasks. He asserts that this questions ideas of individual autonomy, which he feels has allowed people to justify their disassociation from the environment and one another.

Moving an organisation’s culture from ‘can do’ to ‘why do’


We worked with a successful youth organisation to develop a stronger shared sense of identity and awarness of their ability to proved high quality services to young people. The organisation had a strong reputation locally, and believed it had a model and services which would be of interest to others further afield in Scotland.


Our consultants conducted workshops with a range of the organisation’s leadership, staff and volunteers over a 4 month period. This involved encouraging them to reflect on organisational purpose, identify each other’s strengths, and to discern how the organisation could articulate its methodology and the impact of its work to themselves and others more effectively.

This resulted in the co-creation of an opportunity to test responses to their newly articulated model of practice. The leadership team travelled to another city and courageously delivered a 2 hour live ‘selling’ event they had planned together, to 26 other organisations. In the second phase of the assignment we focused on some of the gaps that had become apparent through this their willingness to learn from this experience.


The organisation developed a more integrated culture. It moved from relying on a few key people being able to talk about the organisation fluently, to a position where a larger and more diverse group of over 20 people were able to do so. The quality of their messages for different audiences became significantly sharper,and a wide range of other organisations learned about the unique offerings of the client.

Stabilising a small organisation by role accompaniment with the CEO – Speak Out


Enabling the Chief Executive of a small Community Care Forum (6 staff) to stabilise the organisation during a period of major internal change, while at the same time exploring the development of structures for more effective community engagement and exploring the Chief Executive’s professional development needs.


A mentoring relationship was established between our consultant and the organisation’s Chief Executive to enable reflection on their role and the current internal issues they managed.This relationship also provided an opportunity to explore the volatile external context in which the organisation operated, with ever-decreasing resources, increased competition, and a need for sensitive negotiation.


The mentoring relationship helped the Chief Executive to prioritise their own continuing professional development needs in the context of turbulent change – specifically in relation to problem solving, and strategic planning. The key focus of this work was the enhancement of the already strong ability and awareness of the Chief Executive. It exemplified the benefits that senior role holders in smaller organisations can gain from access to supportive, confidential external developmental relationships. This experience shows that mentoring can be about enhancing and sustaining high performance as much as it is about supporting people through difficult times.

Negative Capability is Cool

Indian business leaders Anil Behal, has written an excellent article from his own business leadership experience about how leaders need to have the capacity to tolerate and work with uncertainty.

This is core to what we help facilitate in our organisational development work. ‘Certainty’ and too much ‘containment’ is often a killer in working well with the context. Being able to lead with integrity, yet not have all the answers is more essential than ever. The full article is from Management Next, June 2010.  download the full article here

Its useful to see this in such a public sphere.  There is also a longer more academic article and other relevant references that we can send you if you wish.

Oxfam Humankind Index

In April Oxfam Scotland published the ‘Humankind Index’ which provides a serious alternative for measuring economic progress in Scotland. If you want to know how human scotland is, you can use this index for measuring the progress.

In the report it measures the differences in the last 5 years. The index was created by a combination of community based research together with economic data indexes that are freely available in the public domain. You can download the full index document from the Oxfam Scotland website. Craighead was one of the key partners doing the community based research.