Live Staff in Boston, MA | Online Membership
An Experiential Group Relations Conference
in the Tavistock Tradition
Sponsored by the Center for the Study of
Groups and Social Systems, Boston
AUTHORITY AND LEADERSHIP IN A
Friday April 1, 2022 - Sunday, April 3, 2022
An ONLINE Group Relations Conference in the Tavistock Tradition
Human connection is essential for survival, but it can also be dangerous.
Making contact creates a portal that allows for access and exchange. We cannot always control what happens at that boundary, but the nature of those connections determines the quality of our lives and the future we create together. This conference, entitled CONTACT, will focus on the dynamic of connecting.
For two years now, the world, everyone, everywhere, has been reacting to the pandemic. Some people deny the danger and fight the precautions while others isolate and withdraw from the outside world. Most people carry on, mobilizing to meet wave after wave of menace. Underlying these reactions are anxieties, conscious and unconscious, that drive individual and collective behaviors.
How, when and where we connect have become high-tension decisions. On a large-scale, we can see some of the consequences of these dilemmas -- disruption, regression, polarization and loss of traditional standards that provide containment. Other effects dwell under the surface and have yet to take shape. To address these disruptions, we must first understand them.
This conference is an experiential journey into this moment in time. Using the Group Relations conference model of study, the CONTACT conference will create a living laboratory so participants, members and staff can grapple with these collective dilemmas. If safety permits, the conference staff will meet to work live with the online membership. Otherwise, the event will be completely online.
Either way, this three-day event gives us the opportunity to experience
what it means and what it takes to approach and possibly reach
across boundaries. It is an opportunity to make contact.
Dannielle Kennedy, PhD, LICSW
TASK & METHOD
The online conference is designed to provide members, together with administrative staff and consultants, an opportunity to create and study a temporary institution, giving participants the chance to experience, examine, and understand systemic processes – overt and covert, conscious and unconscious – encountered in the exercise of authority, leadership and power.
Entitled CONTACT: Authority and Leadership in a Disrupted World, the online conference consists of an online membership attending on Zoom and, virus levels permitting, a live staff working together face-to-face in the same physical space in Boston, MA. This hybrid configuration will offer the opportunity to explore various aspects of relatedness.
The learning method is experiential, and members learn through action and reflection on their immediate, here and now experience in the conference. This method distinguishes this conference from other educational events where faculty provide didactic information for participants to take in.
The purpose of the conference is educational. Participants are involved in a program of studying groups at work, in real-time, with structured discussions for review and application of insights.
WILL HAVE OPPORTUNITIES TO
Compare and contrast overt and covert group processes through participating in interlinking groups that vary in size, structure, and task.
Identify aspects of group life that create vitality and goal fulfillment and those which lead to resistance, complacency, inertia, and decline.
Articulate underlying patterns of group interaction by forming groups, establishing leadership structures, and relating with other groups and the institution as a whole.
Discuss personal and collective reactions to well-defined authority and clearly delineated boundaries.
Compare and contrast familiar and unfamiliar roles and with various social behaviors including isolation, autonomy, affiliation, collaboration, and coalition building.
Be able to discuss how various aspects and perceptions of individual identity such as race, class, gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and education level intersect and are used by groups with and without their conscious awareness.
Compare and contrast the differences between the stated task of a group and the task it actually appears to be pursuing.
Develop awareness of their own capacity and responsibility to lead or advocate in their home organizations and social contexts no matter what their formal authority roles.
Apply what has been learned and experienced in the conference to personal work and home situations.
The Tavistock tradition combines social systems research with a psychoanalytic approach. The conference provides a unique experiential learning opportunity to study one's own and others’ behavior as it happens. By holding the contextual factors of task, role, place, and time boundaries constant and observing the emergence of dynamics in the here-and-now, attendees become participant observers whose task it is to make sense of the temporary organization they are co-creating.
This model of experiential learning attempts to examine unconscious as well as conscious dynamics that impact the emotional and working lives of groups. It provides opportunities to explore how we authorize ourselves and others to feel, speak, act, lead, and follow. It highlights how social identities and roles intersect and how we create and relate to the limits of task, time, territory and self. In this unique format aspects of one's motivations, behaviors, projections and ways of assuming roles that might be out of awareness are brought to light.
As dynamics emerge for collective examination, participants can see what supports or detracts from their effectiveness and how leadership and authority take shape. Organizational narratives at the level of the whole system develop and dynamics that emerge in the conference often mirror the external environment, offering everyone an opportunity to see broader social and organizational undercurrents more clearly.