Congratulations to these Delegates who attended the Bayswater Institute MasterClass in SocioTechnical Systems and the Imagine Method.
In solitude or with others, some things are too difficult to be dealt with directly. Sometimes we need to find a way to address underlying issues by circuitous means. My starting point is two-fold. It can be summed up by the two following sentences:
We are needful of harmony with each other.
We are needful of peace with ourselves.
- By ‘needful of harmony with each other’ I refer to the quality of the relationship we have with the others who come into and move out of our lives.
- By “needful of peace with ourselves” I refer to the quality of our self-knowing.
- By use of the Mindful Stories you and your team can address issues which are often beyond easy solution.
Post By Professor Simon Bell
In solitude or with others, some things are too difficult to be dealt with directly. Sometimes we need to find a way to address underlying issues by roundabout means.
My starting point is two-fold. It can be summed up by the two following sentences:
We are needful of harmony with each other.
We are needful of peace with ourselves.
By: “needful of harmony with each other” I refer to the quality of the relationship we have with the others who come into and move out of our lives.
By: “needful of peace with ourselves” I refer to the quality of our self-knowing.
These two precepts underlie the intention and content of the Mindful Stories method.
The intention of Mindful Stories is to provide prompts or ‘calls’ to mindful consideration of the various elements of our inner relations. In reflecting on the stories used by this method, you are encouraged to reflect upon your Self and your Self with others and with things. Others like your family, work groups and friends. Things like nature, technologies and events in your life for example, interviews and holidays.
Reflections prompted by the stories may include questioning your motivations and motives, assessing your strengths and your weaknesses, considering your impact on others and their effects upon you. You may find the stories mirror some obvious and explicit event in your life; you may find that the stories address implicit and subliminal sources of concern and anxiety.
The prompts or ‘calls’ contained in the stories are invitations to sublimate, to look below the surface of your accustomed responses to yourself, your social context and your relations with the things that surround you and to allow new ideas and responses to emerge. Looking below the task in hand to the task below can free us from restrictions, allowing us to move ‘through the walls’ of the presenting problem. This in turn can lead to responses which you might not have considered before.
In this process I make use of fictions, stories which are objects which can provide means to address subjective problems, but problems which are too sensitive to be openly addressed more directly at this time.
There are no intended outcomes other than success in your exploring.
WiG 2019: 5 days: 8th–12th July 2019
Royal Cambridge Hotel, Cambridge.
£2,500 per delegate (£1,200 non-residential).
Please book early.
WiG Intensive: 3 days: 1st–3rd July 2019
Royal Cambridge Hotel, Cambridge.
£1,500 per delegate.
Presented for the first time, WiG Intensive is intended as an advanced immersive event for the alumni of earlier WiG or the Bayswater ‘Midhurst’ Conference. Again, please book early.
The WiG Intensive three days builds upon your experiences of WiG and advances into areas such as: reading the group, understanding the unconscious in group work and refining your skills as a Double Task, GroupAware practitioner.
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.
Simon Bell A personal reflection on some of the origins of GroupAware – an essay
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.
How the Imagine Approach Captures Context and Leads to Sustainability
The Imagine approach is intended to assist organisations and communities of all kinds to improve their long-term sustainability. It provides a rapid means to:
- Gain a clear understanding of the context in which the organisation or community finds itself and the challenges it faces.
- Identify the main indicators which can be used to measure progress made in facing these challenges.
- Assess the overall message of these indicators and thereby assess the current sustainability of the organisation or community.
- Consider the current challenges, make scenarios of possible undesirable and desirable futures.
- Assess progress made in either achieving or remaining clear of these futures in the light of current challenges.
Imagine requires the organisation to invest in no additional capital assets such as software or personnel. It is a facilitated workshop process in which a series of tools are applied to enable local decision makers to map their own context and model sustainable futures. In a series of four half day Imagine events, stakeholders from within the organisation or community come together with a facilitator to engage in the process. Imagine is Rapid, Participatory and Holistic It provides organisations and communities with empowering, evidence-based information … helping them to gain a clear insight into a sustainable future. Rich Pictures (such as seen at the top of the page) are used to map the initial context and amoeba diagrams provide an overview of how things were, are and (importantly) could be. Imagine is not Expert driven, Top down or Exclusive and full of technical language.
The Triple Task Method
Triple Task Method or TTM is an empathetic approach designed to help a facilitator gain a deep knowledge of a group or community using three tasks. The method assumes that there is a difficult issue for the group or community to grapple with. Task 1 generates the groups answers to troublesome questions about the issue while Tasks 2 and 3 are designed to explore the ways in which the groups function and how this influences their analysis both in terms of what emerges under Task 1 but also in terms of the variation one might see between members of the group and how they are able to influence the dynamic. From the perspective of participants, they only consciously experience Task 1; Tasks 2 and 3 are largely invisible to them and are employed to help generate understandings to be shared later.
The main element of TTM in the sense that it is the task which is visible to the groups and will provide the insights about troublesome questions (what is the issue? what has been done so far? By whom? Why? How is this assessed in terms of effectiveness? Etc.). For convenience, Task 1 is also subdivided into three main steps: Scoping, developing Visions of Change (VoCs) and planning Desired change:
This is an ‘outside in’ review of the group dynamic. In effect, it is the facilitators assessment of the group process using a matrix approach originally developed at the Open University and known as BECM.
Is the ‘inside out’ review of the group dynamic – the stakeholders’ assessment of their group process. The three tasks align in providing a unique ‘group signature’ which can be compared and contrasted to the unique signatures of other groups or benchmark signatures. At the end of a TTM intervention a group will have gained clarity about its task and the organisation will have a deeper knowledge of how well groups are functioning.
Organisations and individuals suffer from fear – probably more than they like to admit. Numerous decisions are made based on underlying fears and anxieties but how can we map out and gain power over fearful things? There are a host of books about fear but, there has been little attempt to methodically and systemically assess how fear emerges and is targeted. In exploring the Formations of Terror or FoT participants set about the methodical assessment of fear as an emergent property. Working from personal experience of fear and teaching by use of examples and case studies, the FoT method will derive the main principles which lie behind the manifestation of fear of all kinds. Using climate change as a specific point of focus, fear is seen to be a major force in problem assessment and analysis and, by accident or intention, a significant confusion to human decision making. By studying the FoT, participants will gain a systemic assessment of the main features of the Paradigm of Fear. Furthermore, they will be able to identify Fear Amplifying and Fear Attenuating systems and learn how fear can be contained, how new social forms can arise and how new behaviours and social qualities can mitigate the Formations of Terror.
The Project Fear comic
Find out how fear is weaponised and targeted and how to avoid making things worse! This comic an easy access point to understand the Formations of Terror.
The Double Task Approach originated by Harold Bridger
The double task approach was developed by Harold Bridger at the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations in the 1950s. Harold’s starting point was that we are all driven to complete our primary task: the currently most pressing one, the deadline to meet, the customer’s order to fulfill, the problem to be solved. But if we are continually obsessed by the current task we can miss the bigger picture: are we tackling the right task, are we going about the best way, why are we not all working together on this?
Harold was fond of saying that, every so often, we need to ‘suspend business’: to stop work on the first task and switch our attention to the second task, that of reviewing the what, why and how of situation we find ourselves in. This switch is a move from a ‘doing’ mode to a ‘learning’ mode, a move to reflecting, gathering evidence and testing assumptions. It can be a challenging process and Harold was particularly concerned to create safe places, space and time for the reviewing processes to be effective. The need for a double task approach is pervasive in work organisations. It exists at all levels of human activity and there are methods to support it at all levels.
- Individual counselling We all need opportunities to sit back and ask ourselves deeper questions about our working lives. Sometimes this is about thinking through what has been happening and reviewing it in a cool, rational way. At other times it may be more a case, as Harold said, of ‘listening to your gut’: asking ‘why am I feeling anxious’ and ‘why doesn’t this feel right’. This process can be greatly helped by a skilled counselor who is not judgmental but helps you to explore, to articulate half-conscious thoughts and examine the implications of possible courses of action.
- Group dynamics We spend much of our working lives in groups and often groups appear dysfunctional, its members ‘not all pulling in the same direction’. ‘Suspending business’ so that group members can review how they are working together can be very important in helping everyone become more aware of group processes and can be revealing for each person as they receive feedback on their own contributions to the group.
- Organisational learning Harold was an organisational consultant and recognized that each organisation had its own double task: to get the day’s work done and to plan how to cope in the longer term with a changing world. It is dysfunctional if the majority of the employees only do task one and a small group have all the responsibility for task two. Harold saw a need for everybody to be involved in task two and there are now many action research and action learning methods that provide mechanisms for everybody to review the consequences of their action plans and, as a result, create a learning organisation continually adjusting to new demands and opportunities.
Commentaries on Harold Bridger and the Double Task
‘ To oversimplify somewhat, what Bridger had in mind was the engaging in an activity – task one – (e.g. a boardroom discussion), and ‘suspending business’ and reviewing the underlying psychodynamics and other processes – task two – affecting the discussion. Thus learning cycles of doing and reviewing can help the orgnisation to function at an increasingly sophisticated, and one might say, more mature level in the work that it does. By so doing we might say that the organisation develops reflective practitioners who, together, create the learning organisation.
In Wilfred Bion’s terms this working in a double task manner helps the group stay in work mode rather than in basic assumption mode. In the work mode the group focuses intently on its task and remains in close touch with reality. Whereas in the basic assumption mode, the group gives way to primitive processes which make it function as if its primary purpose is to reduce the group’s anxieties and avoid pain or emotions that further work might bring. This is not to say that Bridger’s task one is the same as Bion’s work group or that task two is simply basic assumption mode. Rather the common element is that irrational forces below the surface of group functioning can undermine the group’s work. Reviewing and exploring both aspects of group functioning is a means of achieving sophisticated and effective group
Derek Raffaelli (2008) Working the other way In D. Graves (editor) Sense in Social Science: A collection of essays in honour of Dr. Lisl Klein Graves, Broughton 109 – 122