Group Relations in Paris
April 17, 2006
Tomorrow morning I head for Paris where I’m participating in my first Group Relations Conference. It’s not a traditional conference where papers are presented, workshops convened etc. Group Relations conferences are about the study of behaviour in organisations. To that end managers, consultants, students and psychotherapists from all over the world will converge in Paris to spend 7 days working together to more closely understand how leadership and organisations work and more importantly, how we contribute to the task of organising. The temporary organisation that we create over the course of the week will be the context and the purpose of our work.
There will be a number of organising tasks – as yet unknown – and as we gather and organise together over the course of a week we will be invited to look at
What roles we take up in organisations
How those roles are “assigned” through the organisation itself and by our personal stories
What authority looks like
How learning is constructed and integrated in organisations
How what is not openly acknowledged influences action
The emotional life of organising and leadership
I have a variety of feelings about participating in this conference – I’m anxious in case it descends into “group therapy”, I’m stressed because there is a strike scheduled for tomorrow so by the time I arrive at the Conference it will have already begun – will I be left behind? Will I be able to catch up? I’m excited about networking with colleagues many of whom work from a systems psychodynamic perspective as I am. The conference will be bi-lingual and I’m a bit nervous that I’ll end up in the wrong working group where my French won’t be adequate.
My point is that working in organisations is influenced by more than what happens when you walk in the front door – we bring a lot of stuff with us and the task of organising creates its own dynamics. Conferences such as this are structured around the process of reflection and reflexivity – two activities that I place very high on my list of essential consulting tools. The process of reflection will be the key tool for organisational learning, planning, review, evaluation and strategy.
Reflection and reflexivity mean more than navel gazing – they present a challenge to act on the basis of what is discovered. Leadership is an act, not a job title.
I’ll be attending with three hats on – as consultant, as psychotherapist and as PhD researcher and I’m looking forward to contributing and learning from each perspective. I’ll keep posting as the week evolves.
For more information on Group Relations Conferences, click here.