Archive for September, 2010

Book review – Switch (via Careers Service 2.0)

Check out this interesting book review by Helen Curry at Careers Service 2.0…

Book review - Switch: How to change things when change is hard I’m going to cut to the chase here, I really loved this book and have been wildly recommending it to everyone I meet. It has a clear message and engaging supporting examples throughout – definitely lives up to the hype. So what is it and what does it have to do with Careers 2.0? Switch really emphasises the importance of engaging your changees with your mission in an emotional way – Find the Feeling. People respond better to individual human exam … Read More

via Careers Service 2.0

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How SMART is SMART?

An open goal

An open goal - that's surely better than a closed one?

Following on from Jim Bright’s post about applying the Chaos Theory of Careers to work with clients, I wanted to pick up on the thought that goal-setting is not always the right thing to do.

Being of more ‘spontaneous and unstructured’ nature, I find it quite oppressive when coaches and trainers bang on about the need to set SMART objectives. You all know the acronym:

  • Specific (or is it Significant? Simple?)
  • Measurable (or perhaps Manageable? Motivational?)
  • Attainable (or is it Achievable? Acceptable? Appropriate? Agreed? Ambitious?)
  • Relevant (or is it Realistic? Resourced?)
  • Time-limited (maybe Timely?)

All this hyper-focused-ness makes me want to scream sometimes.

These conditions seem to assume that nothing is going to change; that the goal is somehow separate from the context in which it has been defined. They assume that life is not complex, that you can plot a course and just follow it.

But life isn’t like that. It’s messy. Things change. Unexpected things happen.

Perhaps it’s time for a different type of SMART objective.

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Applied Chaos

Using the Chaos Theory of Careers in Counselling

I would like to thank Dr Jim Bright of Bright and Associates for contributing this guest posting as a follow-up to an earlier post of mine on The Chaos Theory of Careers. — David.
Romanesca broccoli

A fractal cauliflower (or broccoli) – how applied can you get?

A bit of background

The Chaos Theory of Careers (CTC) characterises individuals as complex systems subject to the influence of complex influences and chance events. However, over time patterns emerge in our behaviour that are self-similar but also subject to change.  Career trajectories/histories/stories are examples of such complex fractal patterns.

Our careers are subject to chance events far more frequently than just about any theory other than CTC and Happenstance Learning Theory would suggest.

Our careers are subject to non linear change — sometimes small steps have profound outcomes, and sometimes changing everything changes nothing.

Our careers are unpredictable, with most people expressing a degree of surprise/delight or disappointment at where they ended up.

Our careers are subject to continual change. Sometimes we experience slow shift (Bright, 2008) that results in us drifting off course without realising it, and sometimes our careers have dramatic (fast shift) changes which completely turn our world upside down.

We (and therefore our careers) take shape and exhibit self-similar patterns, trajectories, traits, narratives, preoccupations over time.

We (and therefore our careers) are too complex to be easily captured and put into simple boxes, interest or personality codes. Even much vaunted narrative is an over-simplification.

Constructivism proposes that we are pattern makers; we can find connections and structure in almost any stimuli. CTC has at it’s heart the idea of emergent patterns.  In seeking to understand these exceedingly complex and ever changing patterns we all will construct meaning from our experiences of these patterns and the constructions that we place on our experience of reality (Pryor & Bright, 2003). In contrast with several recent theories, we contend that there is more to reality than just constructions of it (See Pryor & Bright, 2007).

In summary, CTC and any counselling process based upon it will have to take into account the following concepts:

  • Change — e.g. Bright (2008), Jepson & Chouduri (2001)
  • Chance — e.g. Chen (2005), Krumboltz & Levin (2006); Bright et al (2005), Bright, Pryor & Harpham (2005)
  • Complexity — Patton & McMahon (2006); Lent, Brown & Hacket (1996); Bright et al (2005)
  • Fractal patterns — Bright & Pryor (2010); Bright & Pryor (2005); Bloch (2005); Savickas et al (2009)
  • Emergence —  Pryor & Bright (2004); Bright & Pryor (2010); Morrowitz (2003)
  • Attractors — Pryor & Bright (2007); Bright & Pryor (2005)
  • Constructivism — Savickas (1997); Savickas et al (2009)

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Difficult decisions

Half shaved man

Yes...no...maybe...I don't know...can you repeat the question...

In last week’s post I talked about the decision-making profile developed by Itamar Gati. Along with some other researchers, Gati has also explored the various factors that lead to decision-making difficulties. As with the profile, this list of difficulties can provide a useful checklist for exploring decision making with clients.

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Do you have a decision-making style?

A profile

This profile looks quite decisive

What is your decision-making style?

Do you actually have one…or many?

In much of the literature on decision making approaches, there is a tendency to allocate people to one of a number of different categories or styles.

For example, you might be classified as (Scott & Bruce, 1995):

  • Rational – You tend to make decisions in a logical and systematic way
  • Avoidant – You tend to avoid making important decisions until the pressure is on
  • Dependent – You tend to make important decisions by consulting other people
  • Intuitive – You tend to make decisions by relying on your instinct
  • Spontaneous – You tend to make impulsive decisions

This seems to me to be overly simplistic and that is also the conclusion of a paper by a group of Israeli psychologists.

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