Subject K gets a new role - by Geoff Bateson

It's not Subject K - we are all complex and finding a role that frees the spirit and refreshes our purpose at work is something to aspire to. 


Subject K Finds A New Role - by Geoff Bateson

K is a complex character. We have worked together over several sessions and it has become clear that the subject combines four different personalities. However, at no point do these other personalities take over. You wouldn’t know they were there, but they are shaping and reshaping, silently constructing from within.

I take K’s words and deeds, forensically peeling back thought-processes; dissecting different influences; seeing what might be attributable to distinct beings.

The oldest one, Joe, is staid, strict, with immense reserves of energy, ambition and pride. He points to dynasties from which he inherited obligations and moral standards that no-one can ever live up to. Joe sits in stern judgement.

The youngest, Sue, feels at risk, to the point of paranoia. She is worried and uncertain, with occasional acts of self-harm. She deals with life through endless checklists and Post-it plans. She spent in the past, but now faces an empty purse.

The other two are male, making Sue feel even more vulnerable. Harold, the older one, is Welsh, non-conformist, “rough-handed, but smooth-talking”. He claims to be ex-army and a former civil servant in India. He reflects a need for structures, commands, controls; the very stuff of Empire.

Alan is an engineer, full of visions, missions and management-speak. Where Joe and Harold are dedicated to creating, Alan is intent on running things; extending the reach; pushing the boundaries; making the difference.

Every day K wrestles with these varying demands, without even recognising they are there. Today’s breakthrough was the realisation of a way forward. If K could only find a role that picked out the best of everyone then that would free up the spirit, refresh the sense of purpose. The right role would give Joe no grounds for moral objection, would satisfy Harold’s need for duty, would still allow Alan to make the difference, and would free Sue from anxiety.


Geoff Bateson is an independent writer and researcher in Birmingham with a 40 year career in local authorities. Check out

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