Dr Annette Clancy

Facilitator, Coach and Speaker

Annette’s mother described her as a child who had an unnatural attraction to the word ‘why?’ There always seemed to be so much more going on that required further clarification. That curiosity about out-of-awareness aspects of life was further piqued at an early stage in her career as an arts manager as she watched actors working with ‘subtext’ or, the emotional undertone of characters. The words that actors spoke seemed superfluous as they brought their characters to life using an understanding of emotion. A simple inflection of tone; a look; a movement of a hand could turn a simple sentence into a complex array of meaning if the actor understood how the character was feeling. Annette spent increasing amounts of time in the rehearsal room watching directors and actors discussing characters’ motivations for entering a room, sitting in a chair or answering a phone call. The question on the tip of every actor’s tongue was ‘why would my character do this?’

It is no surprise that the overarching theme of Annette’s research, teaching and professional practice is the psychodynamic study of emotion in organisations.

Annette is currently working on a study of reflexivity in organisations. There is a lot of scholarly work on reflexivity and, on how important it is for individuals and organisations in order to open up opportunities for learning and change. What hasn’t been studied quiet so much is the emotions that get in the way of being reflexive and how reflexivity is defended against. This study will pay particular attention to positivity and its role in inhibiting reflexivity in organisations.

Annette is also about to start a collaboration with an arts centre in Dublin to explore boredom in organisations. Using psychoanalytic and arts-based methods, the study will look at the relationship between boredom and creativity. Annette hopes that the project will be more creative and less boring than it sounds.

Most of us have stories of disappointment in our work life and many of them revolve around failure to live up to expectations (our own or others’). Failure evokes blame and shame and the inevitable attempts to root out who is at fault to ensure the same mistakes are not made again. In Annette’s doctoral research she discovered that disappointment is associated with the loss of an imagined better and more positive future. Viewed from this perspective disappointment might be reimagined as a catalyst for organisational learning (what matters to people) and creativity (how we might help organisations find it). Annette earned her PhD at the University of Bath. Her doctoral dissertation was an in-depth, qualitative study of the inter-personal and organisational dynamics of disappointment.

Annette has consulted to and coached senior executives in over 100 organisations across the public, private and not for profit sectors in Ireland, the UK and the USA. She managed her own consulting business for 17 years following many years as a senior manager in the cultural sector. Some examples of the types of engagements she has undertaken include:

She designed and facilitated a high-profile national consultation process for the Arts Council of Ireland that had met high levels of sectoral cynicism and fatigue with previous efforts. The process involved a 6-month engagement with over 100 small and focused meetings involving approximately 1000 participants. She achieved 100% buy-in to a single shared vision for the sector, which was successfully implemented.

Annette was engaged by Dublin City Council to complete a comprehensive review of the Dublin Writers Festival. The process involved the design and delivery of a broad consultation process with artists, audiences, stakeholders, staff, volunteers and curators. The resulting report advocated significant changes to the policy, programme and structure of the festival. Her recommendations were accepted in full and have been successfully implemented.

Annette has also curated and programmed artistic programmes and conferences and, worked with the boards of directors and senior management teams of many of Ireland’s National Cultural Institutions helping them to refine their vision, clarify strategy and define their operational goals. She has coached CEOs, senior leaders and senior management teams in areas such as relationship management, team building, role consultation, mediation and staff development.

Prior to establishing her consultancy business Annette was artistic director of Garter Lane Arts Centre in Waterford (a multi-disciplinary arts centre in the South-east of Ireland), programme administrator of the Dublin Theatre Festival and general manager of the Soho Theatre Company in London.

Between 2015 and 2018 Annette was assistant professor of management and organisational behaviour at University College Dublin’s College of Business where she taught a wide range of management subjects to students aged 18 to 60 at undergraduate, postgraduate and executive levels. She has also taught in China, Hong Kong and Singapore. Annette introduced innovative arts-based and psychodynamically informed experiential learning to her teaching of leadership education. She currently teaches management to students of cultural policy and arts management at University College Dublin.

Annette speaks regularly to business groups on topics such as: Do organisations have feelings?; beneath the surface management; how to disappoint and other lessons from ‘negative feelings’; the tyranny of satisfaction; how to manage difficult people. Her current research projects include a study on the ‘politics of boredom’.

Annette’s research has been published in the British Journal of Management and she writes a regular column on organisational behaviour for Accountancy Ireland. She is widely quoted in the media and you can find her website at www.annetteclancy.com and follow her on Twitter @annetteclancy.



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