Help us sharing our research, consultation and experiences

Donate Now

The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Oscillations in Group Life: Networks and Reflective Practice

In depth psychological perspectives have built up an extensive body of thinking about both the vicissitudes and development of groups, often present in a binary frame as either a group that is physically together working or else separated and not working. This view seems to ignore groups that continue their work virtually. In many companies one sees and experiences these multiple modes of work and organizations adapt to new ways of working. Nancy Dixon has referred to the cycling between these states as an oscillation (Dixon, 2013, Hirschman in Adelman, 2013). In this paper, we want to explore two dimensions of oscillation in group work and their impact on trust and psychological safety when events occur within the group that cause members to feel hurt and how these dimensions can help or hinder reparation. Using a case study of a retreat of a small consulting firm, we look at how an oscillation frame can help sharpen sensemaking and learning in group life and the risks of not committing to a reflective phase in the work cycle. Given the challenge of depth perspectives, we conclude by identifying a number of tools or frameworks that might be viewed as 'transitional processes' in creating the space and pull for people to take 'safe' risks to bring their insights and depth perspective to the full group or network.