Praise for “an invaluable resource”
Organizational Trauma and Healing is a “must read” for every leader in a social change movement. It not only articulates how our organizations get to where they are, but gives us insights into preventing organization meltdown and how to intervene. This book should be on the priority list for any leadership development.
— Cheryl Howard, Coalition Program Director, National Network to End Domestic Violence
Pat Vivian and Shana Hormann have made an important contribution to nonprofit sustainability. Their immensely helpful guide for understanding and healing organizational trauma will assist not only highly mission driven organizations such as welfare rights, rape crisis, and domestic violence agencies but also advocacy and social service organizations to sustain their important work for the communities they serve. Through informative, well written case studies, a clearly articulated conceptual model, and practical suggestions for working with agencies, they provide ways for organizations to understand the strengths and shadows in their cultures, to do systemic analysis, and to re-align their organizational structures and processes with their mission and values.
— John D. John Vogelsang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief of the OD Practitioner and consultant to nonprofits and NGOs
Organizational Trauma and Healing is a straightforward and worthwhile read for any non-profit leader who seeks to better understand the complex, nuanced and, sometimes, predictable patterns of organizational behavior and culture. Anyone who works in a non-profit setting — with all of its challenges and enormously deep rewards — will connect with the lessons learned by the authors. This book confirmed my belief that organizations, as well as the individuals within them, need our compassion. While it illuminates struggle, it also offers the insight and hope that every non-profit deserves.
— Nan Stoops, Executive Director, Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
This book is a real contribution in an important area that has received far too little attention from scholars, consultants and leaders alike: the trauma that organizations can experience in the face of painful episodes or cumulative difficulties that affect systems members collectively. Too often, such trauma remains undiagnosed, even as it causes burnout, conflict, poor client service, and other symptoms of troubled organizations. The authors have done an excellent job of defining the nature and implications of organizational trauma, and revealing through in-depth cases how such trauma can be diagnosed and worked with. This book will prove an invaluable resource for leaders and consultants who care deeply about the cultures, wellness, and resilience of the systems for which they are responsible.
— William A. Kahn, Ph.D., Professor of Organizational Behavior, Boston University School of Management
While reading this book I found myself saying, ‘Oh so that’s what was going on!” I could definitely relate to the examples and stories and even avoid pitfalls because of what I read. I think this book can help us move from stress and fatigue on the edge of giving up, toward insightful solutions for the health and sustainability of our organizations and ourselves. In this era of rapidly changing environments this is a valuable read!
— Cheryl Bozarth, M.A., NCC, Executive Director, Domestic Abuse Women’s Network
Vivian and Hormann have created an important work that will resonate with all those who work in and lead organizations. Their work around organizational trauma creates a language for understanding why certain patterns persist within group life and how these wounds can restrict our capacity to move forward in our work. At iLEAP we work with community leaders from around the world who have used the organizational trauma framework to better understand their work culture and, most important, initiate healing and community building.
— Britt Yamamoto, Ph.D., M.S., Executive Director iLEAP
Organizational Trauma and Healing is a timely and urgently needed book. It is the fruit of decades of individual organizational consulting by the co-authors, and of their collaboration since 1998. Although their focus is on highly mission-driven non-profit organizations, much of what they say is applicable to understanding and consulting with for-profit corporations, and for understanding our wider culture. There are few workplaces today that are untouched by organization-wide trauma, whether as individual events or sustained over a long period of time.
As I was reading their book, I couldn't put it down. It reads like a novel, but one grounded in stories of real, emotionally turbulent, workplace life. Vivian and Hormann develop their methods and models "in the trenches" of their consulting experience. In a sense they are action researchers. They write from the ground up, not from some detached safe place. In their consulting they discuss the undiscussible, address powerful feelings as organizational facts. They paint the long shadow cast by organizational trauma that leaders and employees make into secrets and taboos in order to return the workplace to some fictional "normal."
They repeatedly draw attention to the fact that members of non-profit organizations who deal with traumatized clients themselves insidiously become traumatized from witnessing and internalizing the catastrophic stories. Vivian and Hormann describe the emotionally demanding work of consulting with traumatized organizations, and the importance of self-care and connectedness among the consultants themselves.
As I read their book I asked myself: Who should read this book? My answer is: anyone who has been affected by relentless organizational change over the past thirty years — whether through physical or symbolic violence, whether individual or group. This is a very important book of and for our times.
— Howard F. Stein, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, organizational consultant and author of several books on organizational culture including Beneath the Crust of Culture.
Organizational Trauma and Healing is a “must read” for heads of non-profits, schools, helping professions, and public service agencies who need to anticipate exposure to traumatic events. Military, veterans, police, and other government leaders will find invaluable insights in helping their organizations avoid and persevere through predictable and random adversity. The authors offer many clear cut “lessons learned” for proactive leaders.
— Mark C. Russell, Ph.D., ABPP, U.S. Navy Commander (Retired), Director, Institute of War Stress Injuries and Social Justice, Antioch University Seattle
What lurks in the shadows of traumatized, mission-driven organizations? What are potential negative organizational consequences of social idealism? How do we avoid “catching the disease” we are treating? Vivian and Hormann pose new questions and provide intriguing answers. Years of experience and field research resulted in this practical book. The book’s many stories make it more understandable, useful, and convincing. Vivian and Hormann call the devils out of the darkness while lighting the path to performance and health.
Vivian and Hormann help you make sense of the organizational craziness that surrounds you. They set about creating a structure of renewed hope for nonprofits suffering from trauma. They are to be commended for defining organizational trauma. They name it and gain power over it in the process. Leaders troubled by patterns of criticism from within their organizations will find important clues in this book. Perhaps the problems you are experiencing with a few staff members are signs of something larger going on…something that is more about the organization than a few people within it.
Organizations of all types experience trauma. While Vivian and Hormann confine their research to nonprofits, their conclusions reach far beyond that world. Leaders of businesses will find better guidance here than in much of their typical corporate reading.
— Geoff Bellman, recognized thought leader on organizations, leadership, life, and change, and author of a number of books on consulting, including Extraordinary Groups, which he coauthored with Kathleen Ryan.
While we have all felt and experienced the incredible life-sustaining rewards of working in a mission-driven non-profit, we have also most likely felt the despair, destruction, and sometimes hopelessness. This book is a must read for any leader or staff member of a nonprofit organization. It will enlighten the darkest moments, provide practical and clear direction out of the pitfalls and give you hope for tomorrow.
— Bev Emery, Former Managing Director for the Office of Crime Victims Advocacy (OCVA), Washington State
We were so impressed with the Organizational Trauma and Healing book that we provided it to workshop participants at our annual conference. We strongly recommend this “dynamic duo” as experts in organizational trauma and practical measures to deal with it.
— Jeanne McCurley, Associate Director & Jennifer Levy-Peck, Program Management Specialist,
Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs