Jean Meeks-KochOrganizational Systems Alumni/a 2009
With a masters in accounting, Jean Meeks-Koch spent many years working as a financial consultant advising clients on the numbers side of business. Then, around 2003, she felt an urge to broaden her knowledge base.
“The human side of business really interested me a lot,” she said. “I felt that if I had a better understanding of people and how they work together in systems, it would be a greater benefit to me.”
Until then, though, as a financial consultant, Jean would show her clients numbers all day long and tell them what they needed to do to improve their financial outlook, “but I couldn’t get them to feel a call to take action,” she said.
When Jean enrolled in Saybrook’s Organization Systems program in 2004, she “knew enough about business and everything on the hard side of business,” she said. Now, “I wanted to learn the softer side.”
At Saybrook, Jean was able to understand that there’s more to business than the standard protocols she had experienced. “Every organization has a business component, but it isn’t business that drives society or industry,” said Jean, who earned her PhD in organizational systems in 2009. “Business is just a functional piece of the organization and I think that was a dynamic piece for me to understand.
Jean continued, “You can figure out how you can move the org in people and process to accomplish what you need to accomplish, there’s a tactical functional side, but how do they dance together? That’s what I took from Saybrook.”
Based in Portland, Ore., Jean continues to do consulting work as founder and Chief Executive Officer of Positive Eye Consulting. She takes the most pride, though, in achieving her biggest professional dream thanks to Saybrook studies—a professorship. Now a full-time management professor at Concordia University, Jean teaches undergrad and graduate students about integrated human resources, strategic planning and policy in organizations, and the management of value and people. She incorporates many of the theories she learned at Saybrook into her curriculum, including Bela Banathy’s three-lens model and action research.
“If it wasn’t for Saybrook, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today,” she said. The professorship is “the fulfilled dream I wanted to have.”
Through her consulting firm, Jean is also applying the knowledge she gained at Saybrook to help Concordia’s School of Management undergo organizational change as the school revises its current curriculum as well as its degree programs and specializations.
Saybrook’s Organizational Systems program “took me out of seeing things from a single, linear lens,” Jean said. “I was a bull in the china shop with no regard for the myriad of consequences that can happen.” Now, she added, she has a new appreciation of organizational change and its effects.
From an organizational systems perspective, Jean said strategic decisions are “like dropping a rock in the middle of a lake and watching it ripple. I now pause and ask, ‘If I drop the rock, what things are going to have a ripple effect? How are other stakeholders going to be affected?”
Jean recommends Saybrook’s Organizational Systems program to anyone who has a passion for understanding people, understanding how the world works, and understanding how things happen.
“The world will not be sustainable unless people understand how all of the systems come into play in the world,” Jean said. “Seeing things through a systems lens really helps you contribute to making the world a better place.”