Mindfulness in the Group context – simplicity and presencing

In this third blog we want to talk more about what you can expect coming to the conference.

WiG (Wisdom in Groups), is derived from the earlier BI “Midhurst Conference” and the format was originally conceived by Harold Bridger. The Midhurst Conference was a tried, tested and successful formula. But it needed to change to suit the needs of a rapidly changing world. It has evolved over the years and 2018 marks its most radical evolution yet.

As part of this latest iteration our intention is to make the process more accessible, whilst at the same time maintaining the depth needed for real transformation to take place.
WiG has three core components: search groups, supported by consultants, which provide an open space for participants to explore issues of common interest in their work (task 1) and at the same time experience and comment on what goes on in a working group (task 2). The second component is consulting groups where participants bring a particular concern or problem and are supported by the others in the group, including a consultant to explore it and devise a way forward. The third component talk/discussions is a more familiar way of learning for most of us. We will keep the talks short and the discussion flowing.

The Consulting Group is small and allows individuals to learn more about the experience of consulting to others – asking, listening and actively learning. The Search Groups are, some might say, more challenging. They are both larger and less structured.

We haven’t changed these core components much although we will be issuing some clearer guidance as to how to navigate the search groups. We have introduced some new ‘tools and processes’ which you can take away such as:

  • Rich pictures –which enable you to explore the issues you bring visually
  • The Leadership Compass – which gives you a chance to find out more about your working styles and those of your colleagues

For those of you who haven’t been to an experiential learning event before, WiG might feel a bit different. It requires you to ‘jump in’ using your own experience, in the moment, to learn. It is exhilarating but can also feel challenging and even scary at times. For this reason we will be given you an opportunity to have a short coaching session, on how you make best use of the event as you are in it, rather than on any external issues.
We want WiG to be transparent and accessible so that the learning process is visible and mutual. We are really looking forward to your feedback on your experience during and after the week we spend together. Working together in this way will we hope develop a lasting and mutually beneficial relationship between you, the delegates and the BI.

Health care for all: effective, community supported, healthcare with innovative use of telemedicine technology

Abstract:

Almost half of the world’s total population reside in rural and remote areas and a large number of these people remain deprived of most basic facilities like healthcare and education. It is deemed impossible for government with scarce resources in developing countries to open and run a health facility in every remote community using conventional means. One increasingly popular unconventional mean is the use of existing technology to improve exchange of medical information for the purpose of improving health of underprivileged communities. Telemedicine implies the use of information and communication technology to provide health care remotely from a distance. With the induction of telemedicine, patients who live in rural and remote areas can have increased access to medical services. In many developing countries, use of telemedicine however has been limited mainly to teleconferencing between primary and secondary/tertiary care facilities for diagnosis and management of patients. This system still requires patients from remote communities to travel, often long and arduous journeys to the centre where telecom and medical facilities are available. Health Care 4 All International, a not for profit registered charity is providing primary care to patients by taking telemedicine into their homes in remote communities, thus obviating the need and hardships of travel for patient.

Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice Link

Tariq Kazim ShahEmail author, Tasneem Tariq, Roger Phillips, Steve Davison, Adam Hoare, Syed Shahzad Hasan and Zaheer-Ud-Din Babar, Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice201811:3

https://doi.org/10.1186/s40545-018-0130-5

GroupAware logo

Leadership for the future: being GroupAware

Harold Bridger’s Double Task has been the foundational methodology underpinning our existence at the Bayswater Institute for the past 25 years. We are excited about the potential it offers and we know, that we haven’t made the most of it yet. This year, in 2018, we are hoping to make it more accessible to more people, because we have found that it provides the key to improving effectiveness in groups, increasing tolerance in teams and ultimately improved performance at an organisational level.
The Double Task is deceptively simple at its core. It invites people to work on the purpose and task of the group (Task 1), at the same time as reflecting on how they are working together on that task (Task 2). The underlying belief is that by reflecting on and improving how they work together, they will achieve their ultimate object more easily and effectively.
It is simple but it is not easy. Inviting groups to reflect on how they work together can generate in-depth and powerful conversations. These have the potential to be transformational, if we can navigate our way through them to the learning.
Our task at BI is to support people to become better navigators, using a variety of processes, which we hope eventually individuals and groups will take on, use and develop for themselves.
We are calling our approach GroupAware. Our objective with GroupAware is to provide leaders with a rapid and exciting means to engage in the work of groups in a reflective manner and thereby to gain a clearer understanding of group dynamics. Our challenge is to steer a course between going deep enough for real change to take place, but not so deep that the group becomes mystified and stuck.
We find that some people do develop an interest in some of the underlying principles of the Double Task, which is rooted in socio-technical and psychodynamic theory, and they can subsequently delve as deep as they like. People at the BI are happy to facilitate this deeper exploration if required.
In our work developing a GroupAware approach within Wisdom in Groups, we have drawn some inspiration from the work of Jon Kabat Zinn. He was a pioneer in the development of Mindfulness, which has proved an immensely helpful practice for many people. Mindfulness has deep roots in Buddhism, and both psychoanalytic and psychological interventions such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. But Kabat Zinn developed it into a straightforward and simple practice. Mindfulness is an easy and useful gateway to a deep field as well as a valuable method in its own right.

GroupAware Logo

Simon Bell A personal reflection on some of the origins of GroupAware – an essay

Simon Bell

Thrilled to be working with Jo on the WiG event this year. Briefly, I am CEO of the BI and Co-Director of Wisdom in Groups.

I should say now that the realisation of the Wisdom in Groups event is the outcome of a life-long journey.

Over the last 35 years I have worked with groups in many countries and many organisations. I have enjoyed working with others in their problem structuring and count myself to be fortunate and privileged to have learned with others who are often struggling against overwhelming issues. I have made use of many interesting and useful methods but have gradually been making my way to a truly reflective and practical group dynamics process. A process which is systemic and innovative, relatively straightforward in presentation and engagement yet capable of almost unlimited exploration in the depths.

Harold Bridger’s Double Task model is key and central to this but in Wisdom in Groups a variety of sympathetic and provocative additions help to produce what feels to me to be a bewitching process.

The future of civic society is contingent on the coherence of humanity working together at scale. It is my belief that we have always been at our best when we are at our best together. Wisdom in Groups seeks to find that ‘best’ and help delegates to attain and retain the means to the end.

I am truly excited by the prospect of Wisdom in Groups and co-learning with you.

Jo Kennedy

I am delighted to have the opportunity to co-direct the Wisdom in Groups event in April 2018. Over the past 7 years, I have been a participant, a staff member and a co-director, and it is one of the highlights of my working year.

We have changed the format a bit this time, to reflect both the changing context we are living and working in, and to respond to feedback from participants and new staff members; but it retains the integrity of the central structure, originally conceived and devised by Harold Bridger.

I think of the Wisdom in Groups event as a ‘headspa’, where my beliefs and assumptions were ‘scrubbed down’ and I came out renewed and refreshed.  When I came on it as a participant, I was the leader of an organisation, which had a long and complex history, and I was facing some difficult dynamics both within my team and on my board. The double task model gave me clarity both about the work we did and the way we did that work. The consultancy groups gave me a chance to explore and analyse some of the issues facing me so that I could take some steps forward. But it was in the ‘search’ group that I learned the most: about myself, and how others experience me; about what motivates others and about how groups operate.

I left the event feeling stronger and more resilient. That feeling lasting and enabled me to the take the actions I needed to take in my role. The event marked a step change in my understanding of myself as a leader. I don’t always get it right now but I believe that I can, and I no longer suffer from what some people call ‘imposter syndrome’, a sense that one day someone will expose how ill equipped I am to inhabit the role I have.

I have gone on to use the ‘double task’ model in my daily work as a leadership and organisational development consultant. Peter Drucker came up with a saying ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ and I see this in many of the organisations I go into. Using the double task with leaders and teams helps us to work together on strategy and culture at the same time, so that any changes, they introduce are firmly rooted in the reality of the present, and lead to better outcomes in the future.

Over the past 6 years, I have taken great satisfaction in seeing participants benefit in the same way that I did.

Crafting Your Message Workshop

The Use of Story in Communicating your Company Position in the Market

Positioning a company in a market is now a complex and multi-layered challenge. With many channels to communicate with potential customers there is potential for messages to become fragmented and diluted. The “Crafting your Message” workshop starts by reviewing your position in the market and linking this back to your strategy and plans for sustainability and growth. Whether you are promoting a product or service the approach develops your key themes about what you would want your potential customer to know about you and your company. The afternoon then goes on to explore these themes and build an approach that provides coherence and consistency across you communication plans. By bringing solid business analysis techniques together with storytelling approaches utilised in documentaries and film the day provides a unique insight into your communication planning.

The approach used in “Crafting your Message” is not industry specific and can provide broad and deep support for a wide range of sectors. However, the team has particular skills in digital health and working with health and social care. With the need for new ways of doing things in these areas the investment of one days work into the approach can help short cut some of the challenges in these areas and provides real value for money in accelerating your understanding.

The Future of Work: Automation and Continuous Change?

By Prof Ken Eason

Predictions for the future of Work

Christmas saw the publication of another forecast of the number of jobs that are at risk because of the march of robotics and artificial intelligence. This time it was the IPPR (Institute of Public Policy Research) forecasting that up to 44% of UK jobs are at risk across wide sectors of the economy.

IPPR Report on Managing Automation

There are now many forecasts of massive job losses and attention is being focused on a world where a small proportion of people (the highly skilled ones) will be employed and the rest will be out of work and poor.

But there is also another common theme in the debate about the future of work. It is that we exist in a complex, ever changing, interconnected, global economy and that to survive organisations have to be flexible, resilient and adaptive. The cry is that:

The Only Constant is Change

 Who will manage the change?

How do we reconcile these two different perspectives on the future of work?  Our clever technology may be very good at doing the operational work but it cannot help us make sense of the messy world of international trade, market forces, competitiveness, social change, government action and technical innovation. And it cannot determine what we should do to take advantage of new opportunities and defend against threats. AI may be smart but it is a narrow intelligence with a clever understanding of a specific work domain. Indeed, such narrow AI is also known as weak AI because it cannot replace the breadth of capabilities of a human. However imperfect they may be, human beings are currently the only general purpose intelligent resource we have that can make sense of a confusing, changing world – sentience is known as strong AI.

How is a work organisation to manage in a changing world with a small labour force and a large and sophisticated technological base that may be difficult and expensive to change? The small labour force may have a big agenda: to manage the technology and make sure nothing goes wrong, to monitor the outside world and spot opportunities and threats and to design and implement new ways of working to meet changing requirements. And to keep doing all of these things all of the time. There are many reasons to predict that this model of future work organisations will be ineffective and could be dangerous. One of the reasons for this prediction is what we know about how work actually gets done.

People as the adaptive, coping agents in work systems

 Every study of how work actually gets done shows that it is rarely done strictly according to the formal processes specified that may be embedded in the technology. The people in the work system embellish the formal processes with their own knowledge, often tacit and undeclared, in order to give work delivery the flexibility to meet varied and emergent requirements. They are the ‘oil in the system’ that ‘keeps the show on the road’. They recognize what is new and different, learn how to adapt, and add new, often unspecified, procedures to the repertoire of the organisation. In doing so they often have to ‘work around’ inflexibilities in the formal system to get work done and meet customer requirements.

As a result in any well-established work system there are people who have a deep but often implicit understanding of how the system actually works and a learning capability that means there is a bottom-up process of adaptation and evolution in place that responds to local changes.

The danger of the current narrative about robotics and artificial intelligence is that it implies the replacement of this human resource with technologies that will produce the work on their own. If that is the case not only will work systems become less resilient and adaptive but all the collective tacit knowledge will be lost. And as the saying goes ‘you don’t know what you have lost ‘til it has gone’.

There is always ‘Organisational Choice’:  changing the balance of task 1 and task 2

 To their credit, the IPPR recognize that it is only some of the tasks that can be automated and there are many other parts of jobs that are best done by people. So instead of just assuming technology will replace people we have to ask how the new technological capabilities and the very different capabilities of human resources can be harnessed together for the long-term resilience and adaptability of work organisations. The solution has to be sociotechnical change not just technical change. There will be significant organisational choices to be made to find the right solutions and we need some principles to guide this process. Here are a few to consider:

  1. Immediate cost-effectiveness may be a dangerous objective. The key argument for automation may be economic – you get greater and more reliable productivity from robots and they are cheaper than human resources. That may be so, but you also have to consider what you might lose….
  2. Knowledgeable and skillful human resources provide a sense making resource that can cope with the unforeseen. We need to keep a general sense making capability at all levels within the organisation; to keep a watchful eye on our technology and to provide flexibility and adaptability wherever it is needed. But to be effective people need to keep their knowledge and skills up-to-date and that means actually doing the operational tasks some of the time. So, enabling them to ‘keep their hand in’ is an important design criteria for future systems design.
  3. Having people who understand the task domain means there is a double-task resource to add significant knowledge to planning future developments. Task 1– getting today’s work done – has dominated.

People also have Task 2 abilities – to step back and reflect, to review their performance, to see what can be improved etc. The more they can do this, the better chance the organisation has of coping with the need for continuous change.

Helping people and organisations develop their Task 2 capabilities is an important part of the Bayswater Institute mission. It could be that one of the consequences of robotics and AI will be that people need to spend less time on Task 1 and they can spend more time on Task 2 – in particular thinking about how the work system may be changed to meet new challenges and opportunities. Exploring the potential impacts up-front would seem a good investment in that this is a global challenge and will generate new requirements of the work force that could benefit from planning rather than reacting.

People are the key to sustainable growth – who knew?

Scaling up: the investor perspective

by Adam Hoare

Scaling up investor perspective bayswater institute adam hoare sociotechnical double task wisdom in groups

In a report “Scaling up: the investor perspective” released in November, InnovateUK reported on research undertaken, on their behalf, by Ebiquity. The goal of the research was to understand how innovators see the challenge of scaling up innovations in search of growth. This was compared with the view of investors from venture capital firms who are experienced in evaluating companies and their prospects for sustainable growth. The results show an interesting divergence in the value placed on the role of people in the business.

The importance of people in business

The results are based on qualitative and quantitative research with a total of 250 businesses and investors undertaken between June and September 2017. Four ‘perception gaps’ were identified as areas of divergence between investors and innovators. These are areas that represent deal-breakers for the investors.

  • 84% of investors identified Communication as a reason to turn down investment whereas businesses rated this at 46%
  • 87% of investors identified Adaptability and Resilience as a reason to turn down investment whereas businesses rated this at 58%
  • 78% of investors identified Chemistry as a reason to turn down investment whereas businesses rated this at 53%
  • 70% of investors identified Cultural Fit as a reason to turn down investment whereas businesses rated this at 50%

The research includes many other interesting outcomes related to products and services looking for sustainable growth. An underlying theme is captured in one quote from a UK investor:

 “If you’ve got a company with poor market traction and not a great product but an amazing team, you’ll probably be OK but you won’t be OK with the converse.”

The Bayswater Institute

At the Bayswater Institute, we are interested in people. As an institute built on putting social science to work we know that every business context starts with the people. We spend some of our time evaluating workplace situations where technology is disrupting work practice. Here, we repeatedly witness that the tendency is to see the sale as a Technocentric Push. To sell a capital item and let the organisation manage the transformation enabled by the technology. This rarely works as it ignores the embedding of technology in work practice. A sociotechnical perspective requires that the social and technical system is developed as a whole.

People are at the centre of any change and approaches that ignore the four areas of divergence identified are poorly equipped to address the challenges that brings.

In our work with small and medium sized enterprises we often see companies bringing in consultancy around the technology or market access and completely ignoring the four areas of: communication, adaptability and resilience, chemistry and cultural fit. The institute adopted and developed an approach, many years ago, based on the “Double Task.” This is specifically aimed at separating out daily activity, or task 1, of an organisation from the task 2 underlying practices that are working in the background at a subconscious level.

Surfacing and addressing some of the task 2 assumptions and practices provides people with tools and techniques that directly address the four areas of divergence identified.

We are running our new Wisdom in Groups residential in April 2018. Here we will empower eighteen people to recognise and work on task 2 as part of their daily activity. In 2018, we will be announcing single day workshops to bring the double task approach into organisations to assist in identifying opportunities to improve their task 2 capabilities. We believe, as the report above indicates, that getting your management team investor ready is synonymous with your ability to be ready for growth and sustainability as an organisation.

Putting Social Science to Work

Social Science Theory and Use Case Studies Organisations Britain Germany

Book: Putting Social Science to Work

The Ground between Theory and Use Explored through Case Studies in Organisations

In this book, Lisl Klein and Ken Eason look at the various issues involved when attempts are made to make use of the theories, methods and findings of the social sciences in practical affairs. They consider how human and social considerations may be successfully integrated with technical and economic ones in the design and development of organisations at work.

Their study is both empirical and theoretical. Its core is the examination of fourteen case studies from manufacturing and service organisations in Britain and Germany. The various projects were carried out by units within the organisations themselves, by university departments, commercial consultants and an independent research institute. Outside the field of organisations the the authors consider the background and strategies of a number of individual practitioners, and also an attempt at national level (in Germany) to make systematic use of research. Their study is informed by their own extensive experience as researchers and practitioners of social science.

The book concludes with a discussion of what contributes to successful practice. Its findings will be invaluable to all social scientists interested in the application of their disciplines as well as to potential clients in the world of business and industry.

Published in 1991 the book remains relevant to contemporary issues of social science utilisation in organisations. It recognises the challenges of the social science practitioner in engaging with varied and complex dynamics within organisations. Further, that the goal of behaviour change is not well served by “packaged” approaches but must begin with the current situation in action. The case studies resonate with current attempts to introduce technology into the workplace and the recognition that the social context of behaviour change plays a key role.

KLEIN, L. & EASON, K.D. (1991) Putting Social Science to Work. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Representing Socio-Technical Systems Options in the Development of New Forms of Work Organization

Abstract:

It is widely accepted that effective implementation of new technology into work organizations needs an integrative approach in which developments in both technical and social systems are considered. Furthermore, success depends upon the effective participation of significant stakeholders in this process. This article reviews the methods available for this purpose and concludes that a particular weakness is the methods that can be used to generate and review socio-technical system opportunities early in the development process. Whilst methods exist to support stakeholder participation at this stage, they need to represent future socio-technical opportunities if they are to make an effective contribution. This article presents the ORDIT (Organizational Requirements Definition for Information Technology Systems) methodology, which uses responsibility modelling as a basis for constructing socio-technical systems opportunities. The application of telemedicine in health care is presented as a case study to demonstrate how this method can be used to construct and evaluate socio-technical scenarios.

Socio-technical Systems Work Organisational Development Information Technology

Publication at Taylor and Francis Online

Eason K.D. Harker S.D.P. and Olphert C.W. (1996) Representing Socio-Technical Systems Options in the Development of New Forms of Work Organization. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology 5(3) 399-420

DOI Link