Miriam Taylor with Marie-Anne Chidiac
This newsletter gives a voice to one of the founders of Relational Change, Marie-Anne Chidiac. Her new book ‘Relational Organisational Gestalt: An Emergent Approach to Organisational Development’ has just been published. This is a huge and important landmark in the growing presence of the Relational Change approach. So it was with excitement and interest that I asked Marie-Anne to tell us about her book.

Here she gives some context to her organisational work and her passion for building community creatively and respectfully. She hints at the dynamic process of change that sits at the core of Relational Change values, her words embodying what she believes.

What is it that inspires you about organisational change?

As is often the case, what inspires us comes from our history and narrative. I grew up in the Lebanon at a time where making change happen at any level (be it political, social or community) was both dangerous and seemed unattainable. 
I was always amazed, however, by the resilience and the hope that people around me had in a better future, a better world. Making change happen was always for me about empowering people to seek what makes them thrive, both as individuals and in communities.

My journey led me to studying in the UK, and it is not by chance I believe that I found a different (and perhaps safer!) context in which changing people’s lives, their situation, and increasing their well-being was more possible: the organisational level. Here I still found the same thirst and hope in people and teams to create better contexts and flourish. I had joined the consulting industry at a time where large transformation projects were motivated by humanistic ideals and all seemed possible. As a result, I journeyed alongside inspiring individuals and teams, and with the help of my Gestalt training found a way of supporting dialogue and better relationships, which also led to more productive outcomes. I feel privileged to have experienced organisational environments where individuals are part of a community, where difference meant creativity, where the task was strengthened through dialogue and individual relationships, and especially where conflict did not lead to the diminishing or bullying of the other.  
How did you come to write the book?

Sally Denham-Vaughan and I have been developing, writing and teaching about Relational Organisational Gestalt (ROG) for many years. It is an approach to change that values relationship and emergence, and so challenges the practitioner not simply in what they ‘know’ but also in how they can ‘be’ with themselves and others. ROG is an experiential approach to change and organisational development that is practical, dynamic, and one that resources the practitioner as well as the organisation.  

The issue, however, with an experiential approach like Gestalt is that often people are busy with the immediacy of their experience and so the distance of writing feels much less appealing. I felt this book was needed to bring together in one place a contemporary view of Relational Organisational Gestalt and support students and newcomers to the approach, to chew and reflect on this theory base. So this book arose from a strong need to share a passion for ROG... you could say that this book was calling, or even shouting out, to me! 
What's the main message that you want readers to take from it?

I hope that the main message readers will take from the book is that as individuals and organisational practitioners, change, growth and excitement doesn’t arise from what we ‘know’ but how we can ‘be’ with each other. 

This is never truer now as we pause at the door of increasing digitalisation of our working spaces, and face hugely complex problems as organisations, societies, and world. Being with each other demands that we recognise our fundamental interconnectedness and the responsibility it places on each one of us. We can no longer act as disconnected individuals or communities but must realise that an ethical future is based on our ability to collaborate, compromise and act together. My wish is that ROG provides a little glimmer of hope of how this can be achieved by being ‘ethically present’ to ourselves, the other and our situations. 
As you send your book out into the world, what are your hopes for it?

Mostly that it supports practitioners in their continued quest for emergent and relational approaches as a way of ethically addressing the growing complexity and uncertainty of organisational life. I hope also that this book is contributing to an ongoing dialogue around Relational Organisational Gestalt and organisational development and that it will act as a platform and inspiration for more theory, practice and writing in this area.
In honouring Marie-Anne for her important contribution to the literature, all of us in Relational Change wish her well. Her book can be ordered online from today, via Amazon here or direct from the publishers here

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