Academic journal article Organisational and Social Dynamics

Contemporary Methodologies to Surface and Act on Unconscious Dynamics in Organisations: An Exploration of Design, Facilitation Capacities, Consultant Paradigm and Ultimate Value

Academic journal article Organisational and Social Dynamics

Contemporary Methodologies to Surface and Act on Unconscious Dynamics in Organisations: An Exploration of Design, Facilitation Capacities, Consultant Paradigm and Ultimate Value

Article excerpt

Abstract

Organisational Role Analysis, Social Dreaming, Social Photo-Matrix, and Social Dream-Drawing are four examples of a growing number of methodologies that are being developed and used internationally. While used in different ways in different contexts, what they all have in common is the intent to access a group's unconscious thinking, whether related to a preidentified theme or a particular organisational or social issue. This body of methodologies makes use of a third object created by participants, such as a drawing, a dream, or a photo.

In this paper, I am presenting three conceptual frames:

1. An overreaching way of thinking about the design of these methodologies and the role of those who host or lead them. My main question is: what are the necessary and appropriate design elements and facilitation capacities for methodologies that seek to uncover and make sense of unconscious processes in organisations?

2. A theoretical argument for the fundamental value of these methodologies to organisations.

3. A suggested new paradigm for the role of consultant in bringing these methodologies to organisations.

In order to familiarise the reader who has not yet experienced any of these methodologies, I will first briefly describe four of them and give an example of their use in a system. I will follow that by an explication of the theoretical underpinnings of my suggestions for their facilitation and structure, which will be illuminated in a series of charts. I conclude by describing how I think these methodologies can help organisations.

Key words: associative unconscious, Organisational Role Analysis, Social Dreaming, Social Photo-Matrix, Social Dream-Drawing, unthought known, Bion, thinking, organisational consultation, containment, free association, amplification.

When the unthought known is surfaced in an organisation it always makes a difference to its life and work because it can no longer be denied. It is what everyone knows, but has never thought of and articulated.

(Lawrence, n.d., p. 4)

... so the thoughts have to be worked on to make them available for translation into action.

(Bion, 1988, p. 184)

INTRODUCTION

Organisational Role Analysis, Social Dreaming, Social PhotoMatrix, and Social Dream-Drawing are four examples of a growing number of methodologies that are being developed and used internationally. While used in different ways in different contexts, what they all have in common is the intent to access a group's unconscious thinking, whether related to a pre-identified theme or a particular organisational or social issue. This body of methodologies makes use of a third object created by participants, such as a drawing, a dream, or a photo. In this paper, I am presenting three conceptual frames:

1. An overreaching way of thinking about the design of these methodologies and the role of those who host or lead them. My main question is: what are the necessary and appropriate design elements and facilitation capacities for methodologies that seek to uncover and make sense of unconscious processes in organisations?

2. A theoretical argument for the fundamental value of these methodologies to organisations.

3. A suggested new paradigm for the role of consultant in bringing these methodologies to organisations.

This paper has two starting points. In developing my own methodology of Social Dream-Drawing, I realised how significant an act it is for a participant to bring into a group something generated from his/her own unconscious, such as a drawing of a dream. What makes a participant take the risk of exposing his/her unconscious 'product' (for want of a better word) to a group? What are the elements of a design that would make this act easier? What would be the nature of the boundary between the private and the public domain?

The second major catalyst for this paper comes from my various experiences of hosting these and similar methodologies. …

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