Relational Analytics has just completed its first assignment for a major French company, which has developed a particular technology. The assignment involved setting out the rationale as well as the detailed plan for spinning out the technology to form an independent company which is intended to have a unique governance structure embodying Relational Thinking.
Relational Schools works to put relationships at the core of school life. The starting point is a belief that supportive relationships between all members of a school are fundamental. Strong, secure, relationships can surmount social inequality, whereas weak or fragile relationships reinforce educational disadvantage.
Many studies support the assertion that the quality of relationships in schools matter. This has enormous implications for structuring classroom environments. Children cannot learn if they are frightened, unhappy or feel that they don’t belong. In addition, problems that remain into adolescence often last into adulthood. Students with insecure attachments in the home tend to experience dysfunctional and insecure relationships with staff. So if teachers can “disconfirm” historical insecurities then those students will fare better socially, emotionally and academically.
Until now, the inability to measure relationships has been a major barrier in persuading schools and government to engage with relationships as a policy imperative. Relational Schools, however, has been working with a number of secondary schools across England to exploit Relational Audit methodology to achieve a formal, structured analysis that is unique in the field.
In a pilot study, most of the schools were either situated in areas of high material deprivation or drew much of their intake from materially deprived communities. It also focused on schools whose leadership team emphasized a Relational approach to issues such as class size, curriculum design and enrichment entitlement, with relationships acting as a driving imperative. Over 2,000 student-to-student relationships were assessed, as well as a large number of student-to-teacher relationships.
Early findings suggested that traditional pastoral structures in the United Kingdom tend to lead to fragmented relationships that become more fragmented as children progress through school. By the time they reach Year 11, the key domain of concern is Commonality: their shared goals, their shared values were so weak that there was no sense of community or fraternity.
By contrast, the more Relational schools were remarkable in revealing the benefits of a Relational focus, as well as the potential to improve more dysfunctional relationships through a range of targeted interventions. For example, students in the schools that were intentional about relationship building:
- Had a perception of being known and valued.
- Made more progress than predicted based on their socio-economic context.
- Reported feeling respected and feeling equal.
- Were happier and healthier than their counterparts in the other schools and had less time off school.
- Experienced declining levels of bullying as they progressed through the year groups.
Bullying is a significant indicator of wellbeing. An estimated half a million 10- and 12-year-olds are physically bullied at school, according to a recent study by the Children’s Society, which found that children in England were unhappier with their school experience than their peers in 11 other countries, including Ethiopia and Algeria.
In one case a school, described as a “family” by students, was considered by social services as the best environment in the region for looked-after children. This last point is tangible evidence which demonstrates the impact of Relational systems and processes at school level.
By VINCENT NEATE, Chief Executive of Relationship Capital Strategies
I have been working with the ideas in The Relational Lens for over five years now and have not yet identified a more powerful way of affecting beneficial change within and between organisations and teams.
In the context of my work with organisational relationships I frequently talk to leaders about what I think is their greatest challenge in embracing this philosophy. That is that they must make themselves vulnerable to the change they are proposing to implement. On a personal level, if I want my bond to you to become stronger I need to know what behaviours I need to change to make you come closer. On an organisational level when I lead my organisation into a relational change programme I need to accept that the cumulative behaviour changes by my people that bring your people closer to all of us may well put power over us in your hands and that I will be the most vulnerable person to that.
This really is Relationships 101: trying to make you change so that you like me better is probably futile.
I have experienced many individuals risen to positions of authority whose prioritisation of time has proved disastrous, both to their organisations and to them as leaders. I quote “The more highly paid you are, the more you value your time…It’s easy to assume your time is worth more than other people’s”. When you read it blandly on the page like that it is obviously something that will isolate you and produce masses of discontent but we all do it. We value our time more as we think of ourselves as more important and as more important than the other’s time as we think of ourselves as more important than them.
‘The Relational Lens: How to see, understand and manage organisations differently’ ends with a call to action. The authors are openly advocating that whilst we might adopt their thinking for commercial benefit they do not believe we can do so without reappraising some of our the most deeply entrenched aspects of our businesses. To become relational is ultimately to become purposeful; and that means purposeful in a sense we would all recognise as more morally responsible, kinder and productive.
This book has been many years in the making but it arrives at just the right time. If we are to repair the relationships between business and society, and those between people and public service, people and politicians and people and people then we truly need a relational lens to look at the world. The authors of ‘The Relational Lens’ have given us one.
After a successful career with KPMG, Vincent Neate is Chief Executive of Relationship Capital Strategies. He is a Chartered Accountant and Master Practitioner of NLP with industry experience in the public and private equity spheres from banking to construction. Relationship Capital Strategies is the go to global company for managing and strengthening relationships in business driven by a passionate belief that every human relationship that is strengthened makes business more efficient, more resilient and more responsible.