Vogel Wakefield newsletter, October 2014
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A spectre is haunting Europe

There's definitely something in the air. The concerns we've been articulating for some time about the need for organisations to play a more constructive role are getting increasingly receptive audiences.

Martin Vogel struck a chord at a coaches' symposium in presenting a paper which suggested that coaching as a profession cannot afford to ignore the social context in which their client organisations operate. People seemed relieved to acknowledge the elephant in the room, that society is messed up and the organisations with which they work bear some responsibility.

Away from Vogel Wakefield, in his role as a priest, Mark Wakefield gave a sermon which spoke to people's unease about social division and their yearning for a better way. He was struck by both the strength of the congregation's response and the fact that the sermon was reported in the local press.

The economic crisis that has been going on for six years now has profound implications not just for the way we do business but how we organise ourselves as a society. People expected some change to come out of this and have been frustrated by a lack of leadership. Our impression is that they're impatient to initiate change themselves, if only organisations and vested interests would get out of their way.

Our blog selections in this newsletter reflect the conversations we've been having along these lines. We're noticing an appetite for people to speak things as they see them in order to enter explorations of the kind of leadership we need to get us out of this mess. Our reading, independently of each other, seems to have taken a Marxist turn – prompted perhaps by all this radical talk.

There's an opportunity to join the conversation. Martin will be part of a panel at a “Spirit of Coaching” event, organised by the Brahma Kumaris, which will discuss “being” versus “doing”. It's at 2pm on 23rd November at Global Co-operation House, 65-69 Pound Lane, London NW10 2HH. Come along. Can you think of a better way to spend an autumn Sunday afternoon?

From the Vogel Wakefield blog

Frederic Laloux’s Reinventing Organizations documents the paradigm shift in action.
Our most-viewed blog post, on the role of coaching in a messed-up world.
We prize non-judgment in our work. But let's hear it also for the virtues of judgment.
Read more at the Vogel Wakefield blog.

What we're reading

Martin's reading

  • Studying Organizations by Chris Grey. Almost a prequel to Laloux's book cited above. A bracing deconstruction of how each organisational form tends to the dysfunctional in its own way.
  • Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism by David Harvey. Just started this application of Marxist analysis to the economic crisis. A challenge to the “common sense” of our age.

Mark's reading

  • Culture and the Death of God by Terry Eagleton. Neither Christianity nor Marxism are very fashionable at the moment. But that doesn’t stop Terry Eagleton, who has been heavily influenced by both, giving a fascinating and convincing account of why the idea of God dies hard.
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. An un-put-downable 860-page blockbuster full of vivid, compelling characters in a cracking story that is funny and heart-breaking by turns. The meditation on life and the redeeming power of art in the final pages is magnificent.
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