Report on a recent online group relations conference.
In April 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic that struck the world, Group Relations Russia and the Tavistock Institute successfully held an online group relations conference for Russian consultancy staff who were due to work as consultant staff in the face-to-face GRC on those same dates.
We jointly decided to find a silver lining in these circumstances. We experimented with an online workshop design which included plenaries for crossing the (virtual) boundaries, Small Study Groups, Seminars and a Social Dreaming Matrix session. The Primary Task was two-fold:
- To study the dynamics in the virtual space and in times of considerable uncertainty and change, in particular;
- To deepen knowledge of GR consulting in the Tavistock Institute tradition.
Eliat Aram and Coreene Archer led the two half-days with the seven GR Russia consultants in members roles. Together, we created the space to explore what was going on within the group in the virtual here-and-now and how it reflected the new reality.
Some themes/ questions that emerged:
- How the group boundaries are seen and felt and how to keep them – are we sitting in the individual ‘boxes’ / ‘fish bawls’ or are we united by something bigger than our individual selves?
- Could we know what’s really going with the group or we could only see the surface-picture?
- How the role of the leader changes when group life changes?
- Do group participants feel more freedom due to physical distance or more limited?
- What is lost with this online transition and what is found?
- How these ‘losses’ and ‘finds’ influence group behaviours?
- What is happening to our emotional and mental energy? Do groups and leaders have energy now, and what kind of feelings we are coming through?
GRC Russia and the Tavistock Institute are working together in partnership to create more possibilities for leaders and practitioners in Group Relations in Russia and worldwide to explore how they could work with and within groups at this time of uncertainty and change.