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.

2 People reacted on this

  1. Congratulations. I’m sure this will be a great blog to read and around which to reflect.
    How frequently do you intend to write this blog?
    How much are you going to reveal about the group relations process?
    Whenever I read you, I find myself nodding and willing you to write more.

  2. Thanks Omaniblog. I hope to post several times a week. Like with the personal space, I need to be engaged in order to write so there wont’ be any space filling here. Also, I’ll need to research material in a more thorough way so it will take time to find a pace.
    I’ll blog about the conference as the week progresses – already there’s enormous learning and I’ve only been here a few hours! (and the cost of wifi in this hotel is off the wall!)
    Thanks for coming along here to read – and do comment so I can start some of those conversations I’m keen to engage in.

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