The Congruent Organizational Coping Pattern

by

When an organization copes on the basis of understanding its own value, its own flaws, and its own limitations, it has the best chance of achieving its potential — and great things.This is a portion of an essay on Organizational Coping Patterns — patterns of organizational behavior relative to stressful, challenging situations.

An organization in the Congruent coping stance considers all three elements of its experience appropriately, and with balance. This pattern is characterized by reasonableness, leveling, engagement with the problem, and an absence of personal attacks.

When an organization copes with a problem congruently, it responds by first accepting that it has a problem. It recognizes that, as an organization, it will likely survive, as it has survived the recognition of all of the problems it encountered in the past. It might then try to confirm the nature of the problem, and perhaps gather further information about it. In parallel, it might search for problem solutions using a variety of well-known methods, including an examination of its organizational memory to learn from its experience. The people who first discovered the problem might be viewed as expert resources for developing a resolution.

Congruent vignette

The Congruence diagram

The Congruent Configuration

How would the emergency project meeting unfold in an organization that's coping congruently? We might hear questions and comments such as:

  • Looks like we're in deep yogurt now.
  • Does anyone have experience with this sort of thing?
  • What are the consequences if we cancel the project altogether?
  • Maybe we need to take an even bigger slip — if you found three tasks in trouble, how do we know that there aren't more that we just haven't found yet?
  • What can we do to prepare the customer for a delay?
  • What additional resources would be helpful?
  • What have we done to make certain that the new projected date is a reasonable estimate?

The focus of these inquiries is on the project, its resources, information gathering, and the methods used to analyze the available information. These kinds of questions are characteristic of an organization that's engaged with the problem. Notice especially those questions that suggest that the organization is willing to engage an even bigger problem than the one it already knows about.   

Back to "Organizational Coping Patterns"

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