Jean E. Neumann
Jean Neumann works as both practitioner and academic in those fields that blend organisational development and change, consultancy and related change management careers.
Jean cares deeply about ‘good’ organisational change and development. She has completed over 500 projects (since 1972) with organisations willing to explore how they are thus engaged. These include action research she led while employed as a consulting social scientist at the Tavistock Institute (1988-1998). During organisational consultation, Jean prefers to work alongside those leading or managing projects, providing diagnostic depth and nuance, conceptualizing and supporting interventions and otherwise trouble-shooting and making sense of challenging developments. A snapshot of this orientation can be experienced during the Tavistock Institute’s practical seminar entitled, Locating and Positioning Ourselves as Consultants for Organisational Change.
During group consultation with other consultants and change managers, Jean considers that a wide range of approaches may be necessary: team development, process consultation, clinical supervision, role clarification, division of labour and authorisation, positioning change and technical expertise, cross-boundary and cross-specialism issues and action learning. This orientation blossomed as a result of Jean’s doctoral studies in organisational behaviour at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio (1982-1987), culminating in a thesis on “why people don’t participate when given the chance”.
During individual consultation, Jean combines – as needed – a blend of approaches for presenting problems and emerging issues: clinical supervision, shadow consultancy, role analysis and career counselling, practice and business development and research advice. This orientation was renewed when Jean participated in the 2015-16 pilot phase of The Tavistock Institute’s Certificate in Supervision of Coaching and Consulting. More recently, Jean’s “total life space” model underpins the Tavistock Institute’s practical seminar entitled, Beyond Work Life Balance: Making Sense of Competing Demands.
From 1991 through 2009, Jean served as Director of Academic Studies for the Tavistock Institute’s ‘Advanced Organisational Change and Consulting’ (AOC) programme. The AOC became the vehicle for integrating three strands of the Tavistock Institute’s intellectual traditions: systems psychodynamics, organisational theory and consultancy competence. The notion of ‘advanced’ referred to this integration of theory into a scholarly practice.
Currently, as Senior Fellow in Scholarly Practice, all Jean’s academic presentations and publications are in service of this ongoing integration of the Tavistock Institute’s schools of thought that are respected internationally. For example, during the October 70th Festival, Jean and colleagues met to share experiences of “customising TIHR traditions in the present”. Previously, four short web-articles on the principles of
Kurt Lewin as applied within Institute projects were selected by the British Library for their “management thinkers” series. These grew out of Jean’s archival research on
Kurt Lewin’s involvement with the founders of the Tavistock Institute.
Jean’s own career spans early development shaped by practices originating with NTL Institute members; she then immigrated to London and matured professionally within TIHR’s traditions. This “foot in both camps” background strengthens her scholarly practice as well as sense of the fields of organizational development and change. As Scholar in Residence, Management Consulting Division, Academy of Management (2015-2019), Jean represented both this history of the field and a contemporary interpretation of practice-based scholarship (see talk “Comparing TIHR and NTL founding traditions”). In addition to teaching on OD&C programmes, Jean uses supervision to support on-going development for individual consultants and change managers – both face-to-face and via video conference.
Generally, Jean engages in writing, presenting and publishing ‘shamelessly practical’ theory. Her academic interests have to do with: managers being required to lead change from the middle without proper authorisation; how to think about work with OD&C in inter-organisational domains and other whole systems interventions; and the application of ‘practice theory’ to advanced organisational change and consulting. An Assistant Editor for Human Relations for eight years (1989-1998), Jean went on to serve as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science (JABS) (2005-2019).