How We Work: Structural Dynamics

CAN utilises Structural Dynamics as a resource in its work with teams and individual leaders.

Structural Dynamics is a theory developed by psychologist David Kantor to explain the nature of face to face communication. Its roots lie in systems theory, and it allows us to see that there is an underlying, largely unconscious structure to all verbal exchange. It is based on the idea that when we have conversations, we are following certain patterns that we have learned over time. Sometimes, these patterns serve our needs, but on other occasions, they contribute to interpersonal clashes.

Often, we interpret these clashes as relating to the differences between us and in particular to the differences in our styles and opinions as expressed in the content of our conversations. Structural Dynamics, however, teaches us that beneath style and content there are deeper universal structures of how conversations proceed, and that these structures are the most significant predictors of the outcome of any verbal exchange. 

Members of the CAN team have studied Structural Dynamics and are accredited as practitioners with The Kantor Institute. In our work with organisations, we use our knowledge of the Structural Dynamics of conversations to help us unlock the ‘stuck’ systems that make it difficult for organisations to communicate effectively and to achieve their objectives.

Behavioural Propensity Profile (BPP) – a Structural Dynamics instrument

As we mature, we develop distinctive patterns of behaviour which can be observed in the stances we take in conversation, the words we choose when we speak and the implicit rules we follow when interacting with others. The more aware we are of these patterns, the greater the opportunity to build on our strengths and address any deficiencies or issues that we see.

Behaviour Propensity Profile (BPP) is a tool developed by David Kantor that enables us to arrive at a ‘profile’ an individual’s more common behaviour tendencies, and to understand the talents and any issues associated with that profile. Knowing our own individual profile helps us to avoid the most common pitfalls associated with that profile.

BPP can also be used to arrive at a team profile, which is a collective or aggregated profile of individual team members’ profiles. Of course, in some teams, the profile of a strong or dominant leader might skew the collective profile in a particular direction. Even so, the team profile can prove very valuable.

What’s different about BPP?

BPP is distinct from other instruments in a number of ways: 

  • It gives participants a descriptive language for their own and other people’s behaviour patterns; and it can also help to depersonalise observed traits and behaviours. 
  • No one profile can be regarded as any better or worse than any other. Rather, by knowing their own behavioural profiles, individual can more easily identify situations in which it serves them best and others where it does not. 
  • With knowledge about their own profile, individuals can then set specific goals for expanding their behaviour repertoire by becoming proficient in all the behaviours.

Benefits for the team

Knowing their own BPP frees up individuals to engage in conversations with others in new ways – no longer placing blame for unsuccessful outcomes on one person or another, but rather understanding how a set of profiles can come together to produce both desirable and undesirable outcomes.

Defining Moments of Leadership

In March 2023, Monica Manning was interviewed by Marsha Acker of Team Catapult about her experience of using Dialogue and Structural Dynamics in CAN’s Leadership work. Click on the image below to listen:

See more …

The CAN Model Overview
What is Dialogue?
Structural Dynamics
Coaching & Mentoring
Participatory Methods
Publications: Participatory Methods