Since Freud came on the scene in psychology, the practice of psychotherapy has given countless people insight into their unique psychological issues. But what could businesses learn from psychotherapy for solving their own problems?
One of the main assumptions of most mainstream* psychology and psychotherapy is that self-destructive beliefs and behaviors lie rooted in traumatic past experiences. For example, maybe someone experienced a car crash in infancy or neglect in childhood. That person might struggle later on in life with a feeling of safety.
Similar traumas drive business decisions (or indecisions) all the time. In my own experience, a combination of unwise spending followed by dramatic cutbacks made me quite conservative and lean in my approach to marketing. As a response to trauma, this conservatism was reasonable, but it also kept me from being aggressive about getting and deploying paid marketing opportunities when I had the chance.
Trauma acts in subtle ways to keep other business groups, departments, and decision-makers from reaching their goals, too. Consider the team that is unconsciously slowing down the hiring process after being burned by a bad recruit. Or consider the company that is refusing to define roles after having experienced past trauma with rigid hierarchy.
While consultants exist to help guide businesses through their own deficiencies, oftentimes the consultants’ approaches can lead businesses away from self-knowledge rather than toward it. Jumping to conclusions about why something is wrong in a business – or jumping to conclusions about the right solution for a business – can be counterproductive for everyone if the right questions aren’t asked first.
Just as a psychotherapist has to slowly and carefully uncover sources of trauma, so a consultant can deliver powerful self-knowledge to a business just by asking the right questions. With self-knowledge, many a business can go a long way toward solving their own chronic problems.
* Depending on your school of psychology. This is assuming the Freudian point of view.