Theory for Groups

IMAGE and Organizations

An organization can best be defined as a group of persons that have joined their efforts together for some end or work. The key to this understanding is that an organization is not a lifeless assemblage of mechanical parts, rather it is a symbiotic interaction of living beings acting together very much like an organism. The first century philosopher Paul of Tarsus, whose writings formed the foundation for IMAGE, likened organizations to a human body - with living parts working together to achieve a greater good than any of the parts could if they merely worked on their own.

Embracing this view of organizations leads to the conclusion that it is as important to have a full awareness of the individuals who make up the organization as it is to comprehend the organization as a whole.

For organizations to be effective, they must first be aware of the individuals who make up the organization:

  • What are the unique strengths, passions and experiences that each of these persons brings to the organization?
  • Where in the organization can these unique persons be the most productive and fulfilled?
  • How can the organization evolve and transform to make full use of the individual richness brought by each of these individuals?

Second, organizations need to be aware of the overall nature imprinted on the organization when all these individual living parts join together in a unified effort.

Failure to explore either of these dynamics limits organizations in their effectiveness. IMAGE can help keep this from happening. IMAGE can help individuals within organizations discover the unique patterns that intrinsically motivate them in how they respond to other people, problems or opportunities. But IMAGE can also be used by organizations to recognize unique patterns imprinted on the overall organization when the individual part are working together as a whole.


Consider the following scenario.

The first illustration shows a pattern produced by IMAGE for an individual who has completed the assessment.

This person’s proactive motivational pattern is exhorting-managing-comforting. This means that the person will have a strong desire to find practical solutions to problems, organize the efforts to develop these solutions, while maintaining a sensitivity to the emotional needs others in the process.

Illustration 1


The second illustration shows a Team Circle that records the IMAGE proactive motivations of individuals within a hypothetical organization of 23 persons. Each “X” represents an individual with that motivation, and each ring represents whether the motivation is first, second or third in the individual’s proactive pattern.

Notice in the second illustration that this hypothetical organization is characterized in the following way: exhorters as its highest number, managers as its second highest, and comforters as its third highest. This can be used to produce a proactive profile for the organization similar to that produced in the first illustration for an individual.

Illustration 2


The result of this interaction is that the organization will behave similarly to the individual. It will have a strong orientation toward practical solutions, it will pursue its efforts in an organized manner, and in all of this, it will attempt to maintain sensitivity to the emotional health of the individuals making up the organization.

The implications of this for an organization are clear. Make an effort to know the uniqueness of the individuals who make up your organization, and then make an effort to understand the uniqueness this gives to your organization as a whole. This is how groups can increase their effectiveness as they work together. It is also how they can identify opportunities that are the most advantageously aligned with who they are as an organization.





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