The first-ever 5-day non-residential experiential inductive learning programme in Eastern Europe was conducted at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Vilnius, Lithuania, by the Group Relations Programme of the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, London. The programme, titled Innovation and Authority in Organisations was partially funded by the EU Education & Culture DG. The programme, attended by 40 people, was directed by Mannie Sher and staffed by an international team of group relations consultants.
The programme combined academic lectures and experiential group work and application. The lectures covered (i) organisational and systems theory, socio-technical systems theory, leadership theory and psychoanalytic theory as it applies to groups, organisations and society; and (ii) new developments in research and evaluation that emphasise collaborative processes, whole-system thinking, linking policy to context and inter-disciplinary working.
The experiential group work and application part of the programme involved the study of group behaviour and how individuals take up their roles in groups. Historical, social and political dynamics pertaining to the Lithuanian cultural context of its recent struggle for independence and integrating into Western European commercial and market conditions, were shown to be linked to the unique challenges facing Lithuanian leadership today. One member described the programme,: “…. helping me to find a sense of trust in leadership. By avoiding relationship with leadership, I may have prevented my group and myself from being innovative and effective“.
The benefit of the programme included increasing a sense of emotional literacy, improving capacities for managing better in multiple roles necessary for contemporary leadership, and understanding and working with resistance to change.