A Coaching Power Tool By JeongJu Byun, Transformational Coach, UNITED KINGDOM
Integration vs. Fragmentation: What’s the Difference
Over the past few decades, there has been an increase in using the word integration in a social-economic, technological, or psychological context. For example, mergers and acquisitions in the business world have undergone a renaissance in the 2000s – especially during the Covid-19 Pandemic, global deal values and volumes in technology have reached record-level highs. In these processes, merger integration is inevitable to make two organizations into one company and to adapt to rapid changes. It requires a clear process and direction to allow for the companies to effectively join together.
A recent technology survey shows that digital transformation risk is the biggest concern of organizational leaders – 70% of all digital transformation initiatives did not reach their goals – a leading consulting firm suggests that a critical factor in these shortcomings is the lack of an integrated operating model for digital and IT teams, which allows collaboration and delivery from various technology groups across both digital and IT teams.
Man becomes whole, integrated, calm, fertile, and happy when (and only when) the process of individuation is complete, when the conscious and the unconscious have learned to live at peace and to complement one another. By C.G. Jung, Man and His Symbols
Also, in high-stakes transformational leadership development programs, a methodology of integrating those elements of the human psyche that for too long have been repressed and disregarded – Carl Jung called these our unconscious shadow side – is being applied in their content designs. Many leaders who went through these leadership programs express that they are getting new insights into becoming aware of the unconscious and becoming more of themselves in the process of integration into the conscious.
Definition of Integration vs. Fragmentation
The original meaning of the word integration is wholeness or to make whole. The English words such as ‘health’ and ‘holy’ have the same root as ‘whole’. It indicates that our ancestors have naturally sensed that integration is a crucial necessity for living a worthwhile life. Their philosophy must have lied in unifying the world in a coherent and harmonious manner. In this respect, the words integration and wholeness can be interchangeable in the remaining part of the paper.
Humankind pursued wholeness in life, however, the necessity has been forgotten somehow over time. Now, we are looking at different perceptions of the world. How can you describe the world that you are living in? What does it look like to you?
The devoted search for the truth based on reason, cause, and effect in all these centuries since Newton led society to classify, analyze, and organize the world that we perceive. Our perception of the universe could be explained rationally by breaking the whole into parts. Consequently, it allowed us to make a sense of the world that we belong to so that our minds could rest briefly in the order of classical universal law.
In order to understand the whole better, we have drawn boundaries around questions that we were looking for answers to. The segments or fragments have their places in the bigger system and their interactions are rationalized in the process of finding answers. We could understand the parts better by fragmentation and we broke the parts even into minuscule pieces.
In the process of fragmentation, however, we have forgotten the essential purpose consciously or unconsciously due to the narrow focus on the parts.
Individuality is only possible if it unfolds from wholeness. By David Bohm
Let’s look at the organizational structure as an example. There is an organizational chart where you can see the hierarchy and the relationships, in which you will find your place quickly and understand the dynamics of its parts and positions. However, many people experience dysfunctional culture in their organizations even though there is an organizational chart, roles, and responsibilities, processes that are explicitly written or even consulted by a specialized entity.
Although fragmentation allows us to function effectively, there is an obvious blind spot that we haven’t discovered or admitted to ourselves yet. We have forgotten the bigger purpose of understanding the social organism whilst we are limiting ourselves within the boundaries that we drew for ourselves. It is apparently us who are involved in this social structure and who can respond to the structure consciously with our own purpose.
On the contrary, we have been creating our own reality based on the social norms imposed on us. If this was possible, then why couldn’t we collectively create a reality that we would like to live in and pursue once again as our ancestors initially intended to? To live healthy as a whole, to fulfill the integrated world, what could you do differently for yourself or what inner capacity do you need to acquire?
Wholeness does not mean perfection: it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life. By Parker J. Palmer
Kintsugi: Integration vs. Fragmentation
There is a Japanese ceramic repair technique called Kintsugi, that emphasizes engaging with reality and honoring imperfections. It teaches you putting back your broken parts together makes you stronger and even better than ever before. To its philosophy, we may have a better chance to integrate ourselves stronger after we learned fragmentations throughout society.
What does your physical body tell you about yourself? How does your mind work? What emotional capacity do you have? What is your spiritual understanding?
Through the process of answering these questions to yourself, you may learn how to connect with yourself on a deeper level before knowing how to connect with others. Like Japanese art, it is important to face the reality that is given to you. Most of us prefer to avoid facing the uncomfortable reality and even hide somewhere that is safe for us. What would give you the courage to look in the mirror and face your own reality?
When we seek for connection, we restore the world to wholeness. Our seemingly separate lives become meaningful as we discover how truly necessary we are to each other. By Margaret J. Wheatley
In other words, how can you truthfully connect with yourself? I will share my personal ritual here – every morning after I get up, I look in the mirror tapping my face gently with the fingers applying facial creams, and I speak to myself quietly – “I AM.” Who would dare to connect with you when you don’t allow yourself to connect with your true self in the first place? Accepting the whole of you is essential and the first step to creating an integrated reality.
Connecting with another person is another matter. How can you sense another being? Some people experience the shared feeling when their energetic frequency is resonated even though they have a different life background. It is the universal human nature that can be shared and expressed. When we are truly connected, we become the whole.
There is no knowing for a fact. The only dependable things are humility and looking. By Richard Powers, The Overstory
Human beings are a part of nature. We considered that we were superior to nature, and we could exploit it as much as we could. We were separating ourselves from nature for so many years. Only recently, many awakened leaders have been trying to make a difference in the world to prevent the extinction of the human species in the long run.
Nature communicates with each other, and it has been warning us in so many direct or indirect ways. We only started looking with humility when the planet earth showed its vulnerability and ruthlessness more frequently than ever before, and we realized that the time is ticking. We learned that those proud human beings cannot live separately from nature.
The reality that we created in a classical and fragmental way can be integrated consciously when we choose to. The perception that we looked at nature can be changed. How does the mind work?
Ordinary men hate solitude. But the Master makes use of it, embracing his aloneness, realizing he is one with the whole universe. By Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
Our cognitive mind can be at times fragmented. This is the nature of thought. Think about the moment that you are doing meditation. You will find yourself many times that you keep catching the chain of thought. Sometimes you don’t even realize why and what you are thinking about and how fast the thought process can be. How can you then watch thought itself?
The integration process requires mindfulness. It is a practice that a fragmented mind can be observed by sustaining attention. Awareness that is evoked from the practice can lead to wholeness. Coaches use the Mindfulness tools in their coaching approaches, and it allows clients to create a reality that they want to live in and to perceive wholeness more readily.
Integration vs. Fragmentation as a Coaching Practice
In coaching practices, the following powerful questions could help clients to integrate their own reality toward their targeted goal.
- How do the fragmented thoughts affect you?
- What relationship could you find in those fragmented thoughts?
- How do you perceive the reality that you are in now?
- What if you could find a harmonious way of looking at your situations?
- What could help you integrate the parts that you analyzed?
- What connection can you make in these fragments?
Through the coaching process, clients can find their way into harmony. Moving from the fragmented perspective to the integrated perspective would give you more available to be more open and present, leading to balance in your inner self.
Wholeness and the Implicate Order (1980) - David Bohm
Synchronicity: Nature and Psyche in an Interconnected Universe (2009) - Joseph Cambray
The Overstory (2018) - Richard Powers
Radical Wholeness: The Embodied Present and the Ordinary Grace of Being (2017) - Philip Shepherd
Leadership and the New Science Discovering Order in a Chaotic World (2006) – Margaret J Wheatley
The Anatomy of Being (2013) - Shinji Moon
Wherever You Go, There You Are (2015) - Jon Kabat-Zinn