Wrestling with Differences

Wrestling with Differences

How the theory and practice of Organisation Development struggles to connect its rhetoric with reality.

Collage by Modern Activity with Will Luz

Past Dates

  • Wrestling with Differences Workshop 2023

    Fri 13 October 2023
    1.30pm — 4.30pm

Recent years have seen, on the one hand, an increase in dialogue about how people in the societies, communities and organisations we live and work in can better understand and work with difference. The challenge this presents has been illustrated recently by Baroness Casey’s report detailing institutional racism, misogyny and homophobia in the Metropolitan Police. Given that the Met Police does not exist in vacuum, and mirrors wider patterns within UK society, what might we learn from that, if OD is to do more than nod sagely about how terrible things are?...

The roots

Organisation Development, which itself grew out of destruction of post-WW2 Europe, concerns itself with attending to differences in human systems, yet seems simultaneously to embody a number of contradictions.

As a field, it is largely white, middle class and middle aged. It is still heavily influenced by theory and practice that arises out of the Global North. More tellingly, in our experience, it struggles to come to terms with its own difficulties with the reality of ‘doing’ diversity and inclusion work. The discomfort and powerlessness is so great that it can frustrate and paralyse in equal measure. 

The offer

In this 3 hour experiential session, we will be sharing some of our own experiences that lead us to this event and invite participants to inquire into questions that till the soil of our own thoughts, feelings, assumptions and choices.

The invitation is not to enter an academic debate, rather this is about our individual and collective real-world experiences, our assumptions, our patterns and the risks we are – or are not – willing to take. We want this to be a critical conversation – not critiquing but critical in the sense of acknowledging this is important. Equally, we also do not know what the end point is, or what follows this.

The landscape we will be exploring

We will be exploring questions such as:

  • How do we get over our anxiety about ‘getting it wrong’ and being labelled to have conversations that make a difference? And how might we use our own discomfort as an excuse?
  • To what extent do we fall prey to our grandiosity (contempt for others) or shame (contempt for self)?
  • What are the nuances that we miss or trample over by not being willing to linger in our discomfort?
  • How might the liberal values – and how they are embodied and practiced – by hindering rather than helping progress?
  • What do you choose to look at and pay attention to, and what do you choose to ignore and filter out?

Workshop faculty

Next Steps

The workshop will take place on Friday 13 October 2023, between 13.30-16.30 BST, and will be run online via Zoom. To join this workshop please complete the online application form; payment details will be sent after application. If you have any questions please contact Meg Davies, Professional Development Manager at: m.davies@tavinstitute.org

Get in touch

If you have any questions and/or would like a conversation with one of the directors about this programme, please fill in the form below and Meg Davies will get back to you.

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