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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021


The Paper, the Theory, the Story I have very recently emerged, bloody but unbowed, from the potential space of putting together this presentation. Our symposium theme has stalked me and my two colleagues, John Newton and Himadri Potter of RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia ' both with the excitement of the creativity involved and the terrible anxieties attendant thereon. I'm a consultant, a mainstream commercial practitioner and I habitually work in the space between the system psychodynamic approach to organizational work and the strategic marketing discipline. My two colleagues do consult, as I do study, write and very occasionally teach. But they are primarily academics. For our project, that made a fine and complementary team. For our time as a writing system, it made for mutual spaces that we occasionally felt were destructive rather than creative. In the somewhat less public spaces of my mind, at least, I've dubbed this time 'the Winnicottisation of Jane'. So we have the theoretical base to some degree sorted out in our minds and thus the basis for a published article well, we suspect, for 4 or 5 articles. Today, I'm going to tell you the story of a consultancy and invite you into some of the spaces we encountered. It's an unusual story in some aspects. I don't think what we did has quite been attempted before, either by a client system or by a consulting system. I don't know whether it 'worked', whatever that might mean. I don't even know whether the client system is still my client. But I do know a number of things, Most of the participants enjoyed themselves. (That's important from our theoretical perspective of 'serious play' which underlies our design for our intervention and our tentative understanding of what took place.) The system in various ways is still talking about it and, from the little feedback we are currently getting are certainly still encountering it. A lot of things happened in a very short period of time. What happened seemed to us to be bristling with possibilities for our client system to learn to do some of their work differently. To a limited degree some of this has already been taken up.