On incubation of and innovation in reflective spaces
An essay by Milena Stateva, PhD
Senior Researcher/Consultant at The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations
This essay is an introduction to the Learning Log on developing the Tavistock Institute Action Learning Space – a series of periodic thought pieces accompanying the development of my thinking surrounding this project. The Learning Log is intended to ensure rigour via peer review, but also to spread ideas among like-minded people.
I call “like-minded” people what in Bulgarian we call съмишленици – those people with whom we have the same thoughts, or perhaps the fellow travellers with whom we travel the same road of thinking; a kind of thought-mates rather than just soul-mates. In developing the project, I walked, I am walking and I hope to continue to walk the road with a number of special like-minded people from all over the world.
Some of them, as peer reviewers, challenged me in a creative way. I have to mention most notably Juliet Scott of the Tavistock Institute who was the main person to work with. Others provided me with crucial inspiration by (not) being there when I needed them to produce – I should acknowledge the skillful (non) availability of Matt Gieve, Dr Lene Auestad, Martin Ringer, Nick Preston, Dr Mannie Sher, and Sam Nightingale. And of course, all of those who were always there, with no questions – not mentioning my family and friends who know who they are, I should acknowledge (not necessarily in this order) Prof. Robert Fine, Tim Dartington, Dr Alberto Hahn, David Drabble, Dr Lesley Brissett, Prof. Sasha Roseneil, Karen Izod, John Mulryan, David Armstrong, Dr Eliat Aram and Dr Ravi Thiara.
I am particularly grateful to Colin Falconer for introducing me to the Japanese concept of shishin helping me to make sense of the ways in which the inter-generational connects the worlds of the private and the public, the worlds of life and when the reality of life is no longer needed and how all of these plays a role in conceiving, nurturing and doing work for and on behalf of society.
I hope I am not missing anyone and am looking forward to connecting with more friends and colleagues. The intention behind this paper is to provide an initial conceptual and methodological overview and to ensure peer review and feedback from like-minded colleagues. The paper will be followed by a series of three-monthly learning logs enabling trusted colleagues to provide feedback, share thoughts and enrich their own work.
 With thanks to Maria Tchomarova of Animus Association for identifying the word for the quality of people we were looking for in our joint work.
 “(Not) being there” is also a mode of thinking in groups and teams that I am currently elaborating in another piece of work. In the group relations jargon, we often use a distinction between “relationship” (where we have actual connection with others on a task or shared purpose) and “relatedness” (where our disposition is connecting us to other people). (Not) being there seems to occupy a space in-between and describes the position of the other people.
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