Happy New Year

Whether the end of 2016 was marked for you by sadness, relief or something else entirely, there is a sentiment for 2017 that we should all be able to unite behind: that OPUS thinking is needed in society now more than ever before.

This poses us two challenges in particular. First, can we recapture an open-mindedness and curiosity about ideas and opinions for which we feel no affinity and, in doing so, give up the comforting certainty that enabled us to cast our votes in 2016? If we allow OPUS to become a mutual support group for the bien pensant, we will give up any pretence at representing or understanding society.  OPUS should be the place where it is always safe to ask why Trump, Farage, ISIS and any demonized ‘Other’ might be right. I don’t think we are always that place at the moment.

Second, can we use our ways of thinking to develop a positive model for society and organisations, rather than contenting ourselves with a diagnosis of what ails them? In focusing always on what is disowned, hidden, avoided or denied, we risk becoming – like tax lawyers – known for leaving our clients with a bigger set of problems than they came in with. This is not helpful if we are to assert the benefits of psychosocial thinking.

These challenges are most apposite for OPUS at the moment: to be of use to society, we must first be of use to ourselves. Can we find a model for our membership structure that is fair yet acknowledges relevant differences between members? And can we establish a consultancy structure that is willing to work on its own areas of dysfunction and not-knowing as learning and development opportunities, so that we can then become steeped in the practice of well-functioning organisations as well as the theory?

To choose to renew your association with OPUS in 2017 – which I very much hope you will all decide to do – is therefore to become investors in a better organisation that is not just concerned with sense-making but with difference-making too. The idealism is easy to write; now I need all of your help with the hard part!

Wishing you all an open-minded, curious and positive 2017.