Alumni Recharge!

“….it is the things one can’t remember that stay with you”.

Alan Bennett, Forty Years On

Alumni Recharge!

The dynamics of lateral authority in work groups and organisations

8, 15 & 22 July 2019

About Alumni Recharge

The aim of a NIODA Re-charge event is to assist participants to re-view (look again) at previous studies in system psychodynamics and to renew your understanding and application of hard-won ideas and capacities. An unconscious perspective on group and organisation dynamics is by definition always being resisted and pushed out of awareness. It can be difficult to maintain a critical stance in one’s own practice and you can succumb to the pressures of working at the edge of not knowing and coming to know. Re-charge is an opportunity to tune-up with others who are drawing from the same well of ideas and trying to integrate them within their own work settings.

….it is the things one can’t remember that stay with you”.

Alan Bennett, Forty Years On


Facilitated by Prof John Newton BBus, MA, PhD

John was the founding director of the Organisation Dynamics Master programs at Swinburne and RMIT. He is now a freelance consultant, author, Chair of the NIODA Academic Board of Governance and member of the editorial committees of the journals Socioanalysis and the Organisational and Social Dynamics. In 2019 NIODA appointed him Professor Emeritus in recognition of his many years contributing to management development from a systems psychodynamic perspective.

This event is for registered alumni of organisation dynamics. 

To apply to become a member…


“We need to understand that the psyche is structured both by the desire
to be special to the parents and part of the sibling group.”   

Prophecy Coles, The Importance of Sibling Relations in Psychoanalysis.

“When trust is extended, it breeds responsibility in return.  Emulation
and peer pressure regulates the system better than hierarchy ever could.”  

Frederic Laloux, Reinventing Organisations

The traditional view of authority is that it operates from the top, emanating from the ‘one who is supposed to know’, and so is inevitably hierarchical. Accountability should always be up the line. This assumption permeates both Freudian psychoanalysis, in which transference is assumed to derive from earlier experiences of parental authority, and the Tavistock Group Relations tradition of learning for leadership.

In more recent times, feminist critiques of psychoanalysis, expanding theories of object relations, increasing female participation in paid work, higher education levels, digital technology and the demands of complex operating environments (to name a few trends) are calling into question conventional assumptions about organising, leading and accountability.

Clients, customers and employees who share networked access to knowledge, innovations, ‘best practice’ and political pressure points, both locally and globally, increasingly demand timely responsiveness to particular needs in particular ways. One size does not fit all. Such responsiveness requires less hierarchy, more distributed forms of leadership, greater trust in delegated decision making, and more peer to peer accountability. This makes lateral relationships at work just as crucial as vertical relationships. Hence from a psychoanalytic perspective we need to bring into view the challenges of lateral (sibling/peer) relations.

In other words, we need to remember fundamental aspects of group experience that have tended to be displaced, discluded, overshadowed or repressed from mainstream theories of management and organisation behaviour.

For instance, the early Tavistock researchers (Trist and Bamforth, 1951) discovered that the coalminers they observed underground decided together, peer to peer, fundamental aspects of their work practice which were crucial to their safety and efficiency. Trist gave the name ‘semi-autonomous work groups’ to what the coalminers had invented. They were semi-autonomous because the lateral authority taken by the miners accepted and complemented the vertical authority of the mine owners and directors. The vertical and the lateral had to find the right balance, across time and in the face of changing technologies and social conditions. This was called the socio-technical approach. Mostly forgotten now. Not the term, but the fact that the coalminers themselves invented the best and safest way to do their work.

So, what have you forgotten, or only vaguely remember, from your studies of systems psychodynamics?
And what have you forgotten of your personal experience of sibling dynamics that might be of use now in understanding the challenge of flatter structures?
This Re-charge event aims to help you to get back in touch with reserves of experience that you have built up over time; your unthought known.


Each session will involve a reading for discussion, guided small group exploration of self-disclosed experiences of parental/sibling, vertical/lateral dynamics, and application of emerging ideas to each participant’s work role.

The event will be experiential insofaras participants will be invited to discuss their own experience and attention may be drawn to data about the vertical/lateral dynamics within the event but no interpretation of personal material will be undertaken.

Participants are encouraged to keep a reflective diary for their own rumination during and after the event.

Any queries about the event can be forwarded to


When & Where

Alumni Recharge: The dynamics of lateral authority in work groups and organisations.

Dates:  Mondays 8th, 15th & 22nd July, 2019

Time:  5.30 – 7.30 pm (arrive at 5pm to connect with the current first and second year students during their class break). You are discouraged from enrolling if you will need to miss a session.

Location: Level 7, 341 Queen Street, Melbourne (NIODA’s new home)

Cost: $330 inc. gst. Payable in advance.

Participants: Maximum nine participants, REGISTER EARLY!



National Institute of Organisation Dynamics Australia Ltd (NIODA)   +61 414 529 867

Get In Touch

PO box 287, Collins Street West  Melbourne  8007  Australia
+61 414 529 867

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