Professor Emeritus John F Newton

Professor Emeritus John F Newton

Professor Emeritus John F Newton, conferred at NIODA graduation ceremony 2018

    Read of this fitting tribute to an extraordinarily gifted man, and his career that has impacted Victorian organisations in a profound way. You are likely to have been privy yourself to John’s wisdom (and wit) or know of others who have learnt through his endeavours.

John Newton is the esteemed founder of academic education in systems psychodynamics in Australia. The history of this education began in 1980 with a highly innovative, work applied, Graduate Diploma in Organisation Behaviour at Swinburne Institute of Technology. Founding staff members included Max Brown, John Batros, Chris Christodoulou and Alan Brown, all of whom joined tertiary education from industry. The course was unusual in that it was open on a part-time basis only to students who held jobs with managerial responsibilities and it emphasised an experiential approach to learning based on Kolb’s learning cycle of action, reflection, theorising and testing,

John joined the teaching staff in 1982 having completed an MA (Organisational Diagnosis and Change) at Leeds University in 1979, and was the first staff member to bring specific formal qualifications to the program, along with an appetite for international developments in the field. As student demand grew and Swinburne transformed into a university, John decided in 1986/7 to undertake professional doctoral studies at the University of Massachusetts in Organisational Development and Applied Group Skills. These studies introduced him to the ‘Learning for Leadership’ tradition of the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations as practised by the A.K. Rice Institute in the USA. He developed professional relations with leading scholars including Larry Gould, Jim Krantz, Ed Shapiro, Kathy White, Kenwyn Smith, Leroy Wells and Gareth Morgan, all of whom helped shape the evolution of the Swinburne program when John was invited back to be the founding director of the newly accredited Master of Organisation Behaviour, which had its first intake in 1988.

John’s growing interest in systems psychodynamics led him to begin a relationship with the Australian Institute for Socio Analysis (AISA), which assisted in offering a Tavistock Conference for students at Swinburne each year, and in 1991 he enrolled for a PhD in the Department of Psychological Medicine at Monash University, supervised by Alastair Bain, the director of AISA. Through the AISA connection John met Dr Susan Long who joined the Swinburne faculty in 1990 and over the following years they developed a suite of postgraduate programs in Organisation Dynamics ranging from Graduate Certificate to Graduate Diploma, Masters, Professional Doctorate and PhD. By the end of the decade enrolments had reached 100, however, then Swinburne made a strategic decision to close the program in order to lessen competition for its MBA.

Following this set back, John worked tirelessly to take the course to RMIT where its strong reputation was welcomed in 2002 by Ruth Dunkin, then Pro Vice Chancellor of RMIT, who appointed him Associate Professor and Program Director. Throughout the years at RMIT the program was able to develop even greater focus on systems psychodynamic work as John had greater latitude in the formation of the curriculum and the selection of staff. Institutional turbulence at RMIT led senior program staff to resign at the end of 2008 and John became a freelance consultant and educator as he set about helping create an independent entity to continue offering the program.

Over the 38 years since 1981 more than 900 students have graduated from the Organisation Dynamic postgraduate programs. This is directly attributable to John’s academic endeavour. The impact of these students’ learning is incalculable in Victorian organisations.

John has been a mentor in the development of the NIODA Institute and master’s program from its inception in 2010, and since 2015 he has been the Chair of the Academic Board of Governance.

John’s CV illuminates his significant research and publication record. It also shows his important contribution to the national and global fields of systems psychodynamics.

John’s contribution to this field is second to none. He mentored the current leaders at NIODA who, with his help, founded the Institute. The fact of NIODA’s existence is attributable to John’s belief and perseverance to continue systems psychodynamic education in Australia.

Professor Emeritus John F Newton, Congratulations!

Dr Wendy Harding, CEO and Director of Academic Programs NIODA

Would you like to read more? Check out this… Alumnus insights address to the graduands by Deb Martindale

‘This’ by Susan Campbell, NIODA graduation

‘This’ by Susan Campbell, NIODA graduation

‘This’ by Susan Campbell, NIODA graduation speech 2018

   The poet Marie Howe wrote ‘This’ following the experience of caring for her brother before he died at age 28. It’s called ‘The Gate’. I had no idea that the gate I would step through to finally enter this world would be the space my brother’s body made, he was a little taller than me a young man but grown himself by then, done at 28, having folded every sheet and rinsed every glass he would ever rinse under the cold and running water. “This is what you’ve been waiting for” he used to say, and I’d say “What?” and he’d say “this” holding up my cheese and mustard sandwich and I’d say “what?” and he’d say “this” sort of looking around.

I’m sure this is an unexpected poem for  graduation speech, allow me to attempt to explain how my ponderings on this poem resonate with my experience of being a student at NIODA.

In the poem juxtaposed in the devastating scene of impending death is the honouring of ‘this’. ‘This’ is not listed on the Graduate attributes or profiled on NIODA’s website, yet I believe it is woven throughout or perhaps the bedrock upon which everything else rests. It is something that this course has embedded and growing in me. ‘This’ is the acknowledgment of the rich present moment authentic human experience. ‘This’ is the honouring of the now, noticing surroundings paying attention, real attention to the lived experience above and below the level of consciousness.

When my daughter is practicing piano I say to her “pay attention so you can learn” but my course has encouraged me to learn so I can pay attention. I have a hunch that knowing more about the ‘this’ and being attentive to the ‘this’ is what makes us more effective leaders and managers than we were three years ago.

“This is what you’ve been waiting” for he used to say to me and I’d say “what?” and he’d say this holding out my cheese and mustard sandwich and I’d say “what?” and he’d say “this” sort of looking around.

What we have been learning about, and being formed in, is delightfully ordinary. The context of our experiences and our learning is played out in the cheese and mustard sandwichness of the world of work. Of the places where we spend so many hours each week, of the offices and virtual meeting rooms and desks we commute to day after day after day, groups of people talking, listening, emailing, writing, penning plans, writing reports, proposing changes, creating, designing, problem-solving, achieving goals, getting stuff done. We’ve learnt about the ever-present timeless culture soaked dynamics of people, ordinary, common, familiar, yet our knowledge and experience is about the deep powerful complex dynamics of what occurs in groups. Envy, trust, collaboration, competition, task avoidance, collusion, dependence. The unconscious group dynamics that occur in a split second
and change the direction of an organisation, the tremor with butterfly wings, and the dynamics that can develop and grow slowly, a deep undercurrent gradually heaving and groaning silently influencing people’s behaviours actions and experiences, elephants in boardrooms.

“This is what you’ve been waiting for” he used to say to me and I’d say “what?”. Oh how many at times we have expressed ‘what’ over the last three years. ‘What’ was found in the confusion of small study group sessions, and in question marks scribbled in margins of complex readings. ‘What’ was communicated between us in eye contact at a Group Relations Conference, or in phone calls and late nights before essays were due. ‘What’ was exasperatingly murmured or shouted in our home offices as we wrestled with unfamiliar and complex ideas.’What’ was sighed as we left a consulting interview filled up with data wondering how we would ever untangle it and make sense of it all, but true to the ideals of an authentic educational experiences and in the passing of time and very hard work, the ‘whats?’ lost their frequency and their potency. Tight-fisted anxiety morphed into open-handed silence, enabling more confident and comfortable pondering and thought making. ‘What’ moved over and made room for other expressions, aaah ah huh I think I get it! I know, and I know that I know, and in knowing that I know, I know there are also alternative possibilities.

“This is what you’ve been waiting for” you used to say to me. ‘This’ is what I reckon our teachers were looking for and listening for in pre-enrolment interviews, a hint or a whiff of ‘knowing’. Intuition, a hungry desire to grow that part of us which feels when something’s not right or there’s something different or something more. Perhaps, unconsciously and deeply we’ve already known some of this stuff, as Bollas would say our ‘unthought known’. Awareness of what has always been there, yet has not been able to be thought about, and made sense of yet, what we have been waiting for in us. I anticipate, based on the evidence of the last three years that fleeting micro experiences will occur again and again.

That ‘this is what you’ve been waiting for’ moments will happen, maybe when we notice our somatic experiences during a conference and consider what they might mean, or if we facilitate a reflective time at the end of a meeting and we hold the silence, and hold it and hold it and hold it long enough for a sigh or a shift in the seat or a comment a vulnerability and honesty that changes the trajectory of the meeting, or will ask the seemingly left-field question during an interview that jolts and disturbs and leads to new awareness and information. We’ll listen for metaphors, we’ll keep crayons in our desk drawers, we’ll pay attention to our dreams, we’ll raise our eyes from squinting at an organisational problem, to standing back and seeing the broad view, the historical view, the political view, the gendered view, the cultural view, the whole system, and we’ll also lean in towards the problem we’ll look down at the black dark water surrounding it and with a combination of cautious wisdom, courage and humility, we’ll feel what’s below the surface, we’ll feel it with our eyes and our ears and our emotion and our intellect, we’ll draw on the theoretical understanding of all Bion and Benjamin, Hoggett and Hirschhorn, of Long, Newton, Nossal and Harding, and of my colleagues Olver, Grace, Lee and Pearce. Then we’ll revisit that problem with a new perspective raise what was hidden below the surface, allow for creativity and new solutions.

‘This is what we’ve been waiting for’. “This is what you’ve been waiting for” he used to say to me and I’d say “what?” and he’d say “this” sort of looking around.

My final comment is about the this ‘this’ out there on the streets of Melbourne an ordinary Tuesday night, but what’s happening in here? Extraordinary! Lets, my friends, hold this ‘this’. Let’s honour it, celebrate it, the investment, hours hard work, sacrifices, pain points, and the fun, the laughter, the joy of learning, the friendships, the opportunities. ‘This’ sort of looking around we see others who are here with us.

We won’t, but if we could, we could rip a corner off our certificates and give them to our partners Rowan, Jurgen, Tim, Monica and Christine, and another piece would be torn off and given to our kids and friends and colleagues and family members who have read our essays, looked after our children, cooked our meals, and had many many nights and weekends without us as we have studied. And a strip of it to our organisations who have supported us and given us much juicy data with which to reflect. And another portion, may be the bit with the logo, is owed to the board, committee members, admin staff and volunteers who provide all the scaffolding and supports for NIODA to exist. And a final strip, perhaps the largest, is for our teachers Claes, Wendy, Caroline, Susan and most particularly Brigid and Wendy who have carefully, thoughtfully, and expertly walked alongside us as we have learned, our sincere thanks.

This is what we’ve been waiting for.. ‘This’

 

‘This’ by Susan Campbell, NIODA graduation speech 2018

 

Would you like to read more? Check out this… Alumnus insights address to the graduands by Deb Martindale

How to coach leaders for a networked society

How to coach leaders for a networked society

Our workplaces and home life are becomingly increasingly networked. Through the use of technology, people are able to connect just as easily with people who are geographically distant as they are with people in their local area. In addition, our definition of the ways in which work is contracted and conducted has changed. The gig economy is on the rise, and many individuals and organisations are capitalising on the flexibility of remote working. The boundaries between where, when and with whom one works can be fluid and dynamic, and our networks are becoming increasingly important to the ways in which we lead and influence. As coaches, we need to consider how to coach leaders for a networked society.

To develop my knowledge and skills in this area, I attended an Advanced Coach Training workshop in the Analytic-Network Coaching System (A-Nc), developed and facilitated by Simon Western, and offered in Australia in partnership with NIODA. The A-Nc approach to coaching integrates theory on coaching, organisation dynamics and the networked society. The framework brings together five frames of reference to offer an analytic, systemic approach to coaching leaders in contemporary organisational life. These frames can be summarised as follows:

  • Depth Analysis: Coaching the inner-self
  • Relational Analysis: Coaching the relational self
  • Leadership Analysis: Coaching the leader-within
  • Network Analysis: Coaching the networked self
  • Strategic Analysis: Coaching the strategic mindset

These frames build on each other, and at any one time, a coach might focus on a particular frame or move fluidly between frames. While in many ways the approach is similar to the Organisational Role Analysis approach (Borwick 2006) or the Transforming Experience Framework (Long 2016), the A-Nc extends our capacity to think about and coach leaders in a networked society.

The workshop model comprised seminars, experiential practice of coaching and being coached, reflective dialogue and associative matrices. The principles and instructions provided for working with each frame were helpful and offered an opportunity to coach in ways that might be different.  For instance, in the depth analysis frame, using disruption as an intervention, we asked our clients ‘What is your desire?’ which created the opportunity for an in-depth exploration. In the relational frame, we identified patterns of behaviour and considered what might be the pleasure in the displeasure, or how this pattern might create feelings of comfort or safety, generating useful insights for the client. The Western Indicator of Leadership Discourses, also known as the WILD Questionnaire, was a useful starting point for the leadership analysis frame. It enabled the coach to consider with the client their concept(s) of leadership, how it showed up in the way they took up authority, and to identify opportunities to try different ways of leading. The network analysis frame offered a powerful mapping exercise which was used to explore the client’s network and look for both the known and unknown connections, and any gaps that might need to be addressed. Finally, these frames could be considered as a whole in the strategic analysis frame, which enabled the client to set a strategic direction.

In addition to learning about and gaining practice in coaching using A-Nc, participants had an opportunity to be coached themselves, and think in depth about their own ways of leading and following. I got in touch with my own desire, gained new insights about my patterns of behaviour in the context of vertical and lateral relations, explored leadership discourse(s) and my preferred ways of leading, and considered the strengths and weaknesses in my network. When brought together, this information enabled me to think strategically about areas I would like to develop and to identify next steps towards that.

A key insight for me is that network relations exist between and within each of us. By this I mean that we are each in the network, and the network is in each of us. This theme, which reverberated throughout the workshop, has significance for thinking about how we coach leaders. Simon coined the term ‘Eco-leadership’ to describe a discourse wherein leadership is not located solely with a ‘Leader’, but distributed within and across organisations and networks. Simon’s book on leadership (Western 2013) outlines a history of leadership discourses, and makes a strong argument about the need for organisations to invest in Eco-leadership to meet the demands of an increasingly digital, automated and networked world.

The workshop also enabled me to (re)connect with colleagues across my local and global network. There were thirty participants at this inaugural Analytic-Network Coach Training in Australia. All are experienced practitioners, and together created a wonderful learning environment. I am delighted to be joining a growing community of Analytic-Network coaches committed to the development of ethical leaders, for the good of our workplaces and our networked society.

Ms Nuala Dent

Academic Staff Member & Principal Researcher NIODA

Featured image © Nuala Dent 2019

How to coach in a networked society references: 

Borwick, I. 2006. ‘Organisational Role Analysis: managing strategic change in business settings’ in J. Newton, S. Long & B. Sievers (eds) Coaching in Depth: The Organisational Role Analysis Approach. Karnac Books, UK

Long, S. 2016. ‘The transforming experience framework’ in S. Long (ed) Transforming Experience in Organisations: A Framework for Organisational Research and Consultancy. Karnak Books, UK

Western, S. 2013. Leadership: A Critical Text (Second Edition). Sage Publications, UK

Alumnus Insights

Alumnus Insights

Address to the NIODA Graduands from alumnus, Deb Martindale (RMIT Organisation Dynamics Masters Graduate 2009)

   What a great privilege it is to be here with you tonight. I feel very humble. Between you and our new mutual friends Bion, Trist, Chapman, Alderfer and the rest of the gang, I’m a lot more like you than I am like them!

I’d like you to imagine me here with a large pair of very obvious biggles-style aviator goggles. For this is what I drew in a self-portrait of myself at the very juncture that you find yourselves at, almost a decade ago.

In 2007 I wandered into John Newton’s office at RMIT to talk about studying organisation dynamics. He gave me what I would now say was an inappropriately low level of warning about the fact that in taking up this study, my whole perspective of the world was about to change. Naively, I was about to put on these big ‘ole goggles and wipe my eyes in disbelief, immerse myself in what I could see that I hadn’t seen before, sit in circles full of chairs and explore the thin air, marvel at the interplay and the insight that I could now grapple with, and then – oh no – discover that my new goggles were permanent!

Organisation dynamics indeed. I saw team conflict, project inertia, scapegoating, collaborative initiatives, global politics, community outrage or apathy, my family Christmas, and even the election of Donald Trump, differently. Through the rich syllabus that you have been learning, I too have learned, I have been changed, and I – you – cannot unlearn, cannot hit pause or pack this course away on the shelf, filed under ‘Masters completed, well done’. What a gift. We are so lucky to have experienced an education that is so much more than knowledge. It is, as the sticker on the box promises, experiential, unconscious, challenging and ultimately enlightening.

And so you may well be asking yourselves, what happens next?

I felt a bit awkward about my new goggles when I graduated. I certainly didn’t feel confident talking to the non-goggles wearers about what I could see. At that time I was an executive in the public sector, working with communities recovering from the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, and working in what had become a sector being scrutinised through the lens of a Royal Commission. I have for some years since served as a consultant to the emergency management and other government and not-for-profit sectors.

I wonder if you, like me, wonder how you will keep your learning alive, share your knowledge with others, and integrate this way of thinking into your work? My message really, is that firstly, you absolutely can. And that secondly, your commitment and at times your courage to do so, will absolutely be worth it.

Of course you have different options before you:
1. Perhaps this study is a step towards a new career path specialising in socio-analysis and organisation dynamics.
2. Perhaps, like me, you hope and plan to integrate and apply your learning to your current organisation or sector.
3. Or perhaps this has been deeply personal and intellectual. About your own resilience and ability to think about the world that we live in. That too, is surely noble enough.

For me, I have gradually grown in confidence and aptitude to share my thinking and my insight, backed up when required by my learned colleagues (ahem) Freud and Hirschhorn and Berg. I have also found this way of thinking an incredibly powerful way to reflect, and to ever so gently influence and encourage my clients to reflect with me.

Generally, I find that people are curious, and willing to explore with me. My at times clumsy recall or interpretation of the literature is rarely refuted or shut down, and more often humoured until we can arrive at an analogy or example that makes more sense. And of course over time, I have found what works for me, as you will find what works for you. The craft of exceptional management and leadership is perpetual, and the best of your peers will want to learn with you.

Importantly, I personally draw comfort and strength being able to explore the complex dynamics I find myself in. Sometimes this is represented in my ability to anticipate what will occur, or what may be needed. At other times it is the patience and capacity to sit with the unknown, or to hold it for others. And at other times it is simply that I can fall back on clear principles around task, role, system and self, and enter the room with this on my side. Have faith that this is what you have ahead of you. You have invested in your way of thinking and your ability to interact with or help others, forever.

I shouldn’t imply that it has always been easy, or that I’ve entered into this work so confidently. “Oh hi client, I’m just reading through your proposed workshop agenda and I know you think you have a solid outline here, but actually it’s filled with irrational, paranoid- schizoid social defenses against what you actually need to discuss, and is perhaps a mirroring of the very problem you seek to address as an organisation.”

Clearly we have to pick our moments and be clever.

In Practice

I hope you won’t find it indulgent if I share a couple of real-life examples, big and small, of how this learning has enabled me to work differently, and I hope, to positively contribute to the world I live in. Let’s start with the bigger of the two.

As I mentioned, I work quite a bit with emergency service organisations who operate before, during and after emergencies. In fact, most of my work with these organisations is as a facilitator of inter-organisational initiatives. Strategies, workshops, formal reviews, the introduction of new programs. Inter-organisation dynamics are my favourite. I am just a minnow in a massive enterprise of literally hundreds of thousands of emergency service personnel. I can’t fight a fire or intervene in a crisis or assist you in a medical emergency, but I can help. I know that my expertise in planning for, sitting with, and responding to different dynamics is useful. I can identify and call out the difficult or uncomfortable dynamics of collaborating, sharing, feeling vulnerable in front of peers, feeling burdened by others. And I can see the unspoken impacts on the sector during difficult events and in an era of great change. I can make a difference to progress, and support sector leaders to have courage or confidence in advancing change. Ultimately, I play a small part in reducing your risk and improving your safety.

On a smaller scale, I’ve recently been reflecting with a colleague who experienced overt (and I should add illegal) discrimination in the workplace. Rather than simply see this as an inappropriate act by an individual or small group, we have been meeting to explore the system and dynamics that enabled or even inadvertently nurtured this scenario into life. It has been a deeply engaging discussion, and so practical. We have shared lots of ‘aha’ moments and ‘oh-no’s’ and even some laughs about the naivety of organisation policies, training courses and culture surveys. I know that my colleague has appreciated this opportunity and I am grateful for it too. Without the goggles, I would have simply shared her outrage and wondered what was happening in the world.

——–
And so, graduates of 2018, muster all the courage that you can to share the world as you now see it. To reflect, and to apply your learning in any aspect of your life.

Goodness knows we need a deeper, richer, more complex way of thinking and talking together in our society today. And we need people who can help others to have those conversations. I don’t want to overwhelm you, but it behoves me to say, that this could be you!

For now, celebrate your amazing achievement. My deepest congratulations to you for making sense of those many papers, of embracing the circles of chairs, of sticking with your education in the midst of busy lives, and for your mastery of thought and analysis. Although this evening marks the end of something significant, my hope that for you is that it is just the beginning.

Ms Deb Martindale
Alumnus, Organisation Dynamics
Founder SentientCo

December 2018

Learning about Economics and Organisational Dynamics

Learning about Economics and Organisational Dynamics

   Learning about Economics and Organisational Dynamics

Economics: the science of the creation and distribution of resources

Organisation Dynamics: the capacity for understanding and influencing the ‘push and pull’ of conscious and unconscious resources in the human endeavor to collaborate on primary work tasks.

Neo-classical economics is often referred to as ‘the dismal science’ because the predictions of professional economists are so often wrong; even now when they are able to make use of supercomputers and crunch more data than ever before through models comprised of many, many variables. The fundamental flaw in this approach to economics is the assumption it makes about human behavior. Namely, that humans will always make rational choices from available options to maximize self-interest; homo economicus.

More recently there has been much interest, and a Nobel prize, in the emerging field of behavioural economics which attempts to explain the predictably irrational ways that humans defy neo-classical economic theory. This field relies greatly on cognitive psychology and neuroscience, tending to focus on our estimation of ‘losses and gains’ in decision choices made in the super market and the stock market. So far it has failed to espouse a consistent, unified theory of behavior because it is limited to ‘set piece’ situations within notions of market behavior and, again, the over-riding assumption of individual self-interest.

Management theory too has suffered from assumptions about human behavior in its attempts to be ‘scientific ‘about its predictions involving performance motivation, leader and follower interactions, spans of control etc. The management science tradition also assumes that human beings are properly rational and ‘good’ management is necessary to ward off irrational deviation from management objectives. We have to search at the margins of management scholarship to find approaches to understanding the behavior of people in groups and organisations that include unconscious, emotional drivers alongside conscious, cognitive functioning. Approaches such as NIODA’s systems psychodynamics tradition embrace the ‘libidinal economy’ of unconscious desires, fears, anxieties and unforbidden pleasures as part and parcel of life and work. All of these inherently human, ‘economic’ elements can shed light on the joys and difficulties of collaboration and contribute creative insight to possible futures. They are the very stuff of emotional data as ‘intelligence’. Sometimes referred to as, ‘what is really going on.’

The libidinal economy is not about prediction and control. It is about the future we strive for together through uncertainty, passion and vulnerability. It privileges the tension between self-interest and common-interests. Or, as Wilfred Bion put it, we reach common sense when we can get all our senses to work in common. Understanding and managing the libidinal economy requires learning-by-acquaintance. Another term for experiential learning. You have to be in it and learn to regulate your own desire to win it. Along with everyone else you work with.

John NewtonDr John Newton PhD
Chair, Academic Board of Governance NIODA
Learning about Economics and Organisational Dynamics

November 2018

Leading and Managing in the Emergency and Trauma Sectors Symposium

Leading and Managing in the Emergency and Trauma Sectors Symposium

NIODA SYMPOSIUM 2018

Leading and Managing in the Emergency and Trauma Sectors Symposium

Exploring the dynamics of interoperability before, during and after crises.

Saturday 15th September 2018

Friday 14th optional pre-symposium dinner & accommodation

Leading and Managing in the Emergency and Trauma Sectors Symposium

This year, NIODA’s Annual Symposium will explore how leaders and managers in the emergency and trauma sectors can improve interoperability and collaboration within and between organisations.

The study of organisation dynamics explores conscious and unconscious drivers which shape the way we work together. Unconscious behaviours are at play in every group or team and are constantly changing. With better insight, leaders can achieve organisational goals and better care for their people.

The Symposium will bring together those who research and specialise in organisation and inter-organisation dynamics with those who lead and manage teams in the emergency and trauma sectors, to explore the dynamics of interoperability together. Relevant research and helpful frameworks to ‘see’ these dynamics and attend to them will be shared.

Speakers and panel members include:

Associate Professor Christine Owen,

University of Tasmania

Christine Owen is currently an Associate Professor and Research Fellow in emergency management with the Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies [TILES] at the University of Tasmania.  Christine researches and facilitates professional development in the areas of human factors and organisational culture, decision making under pressure, debriefing, leadership and adversity as well as coaching and mentoring

Dr. Rob Gordon,

Clinical Psychologist

Rob Gordon PhD is a clinical psychologist and group psychotherapist who has worked with disaster affected communities throughout Australia and New Zealand for thirty years.  Rob also provides services to a wide range of health, welfare and other human service agencies for workplace stress and trauma. 

Deb Martindale,

SentientCo.

Deb Martindale has worked extensively with emergency management and policing organisations. Deb uses a systems and organisation dynamics lens in her work. She has a particular interest in working with inter-organisation dynamics.

Details of all papers to be presented available soon…

Leading and Managing in the Emergency and Trauma Sectors Symposium

15 September 2018, 9am – 4:30pm from $260 in Mt Macedon, Victoria.  Don’t miss out!

Further Insight

Interested? Some of the concepts that have inspired this Leading & Managing in the Emergency & Trauma Sectors Symposium are introduced below.

Interoperability and inter-organisation dynamics

Interoperability refers to the capacity of different groups to work together. It requires high levels of communication and collaboration, but even with effective protocols and good intent, it can be very challenging. Research shows that collaboration requires a number of features, including but not limited to:

  • identification with the purpose, tasks and values of the multiparty team;
  • highly functioning communications;
  • mutual understanding of different roles and organisational cultures;
  • respect and trust;
  • structural, cultural and resource support for collaborative commitment;
  • well-designed processes;
  • rewards for collaboration and constraints to mitigate ‘slippage’; and
  • clear and competent leadership with skill in emotional intelligence.

However, even with these practical elements in place a deeper understanding about what really holds teams back or diverts them from their task can be gained. Why do teams, even with all of the above in place, still sometimes stall or seem to lack the necessary energy to make an impact? 

Cohesion typically experienced during response phases can be hard to sustain

In response to an event or crisis, teams typically unite against a common ‘enemy’ (the event). In these scenarios, there is often a higher acceptance for authorised leadership, and confidence can be found in well-defined roles and agreed processes. The structure of the ‘system’ creates a sense of safety.

Beyond response mode, individuals, teams and organisations tend to withdraw for respite into their own familiar territories and ways of working, communication is experienced as harder to maintain, and the rewards for collaboration become less immediate and evident. This respite is an important form of recovery, however ideally, should not close-down interoperability.

Further, while response systems and roles are very well defined, and organisations are sensibly trained and prepared, this is not always as true for ‘before’ and ‘after’ activities. Here, the mission can be harder to clearly envisage, roles become increasingly vague, and there are many competing distractions. How can we explore these dynamics and better work with this reality?

Resistance to change, and leading sector reform

In order to change, people must first feel secure. Providing an environment in which people can better tolerate difficulties, risks, or anxieties is a necessary factor to successful change. When thoughts or emotions cannot be contained, some predictable behaviours emerge in organisations.

For example, when a team’s identity or the scope of their task is unclear, conflict between groups can emerge, with a ‘them and us’ rather than a ‘we’ mentality. This can occur between organisations, or between sub-systems and teams within an organisation.

Other group behaviours resisting change are common, ranging from apathy and absence to unexpected emotion or territorial behaviour. These ‘social defences’ have been well researched and look beyond how individuals react, instead focusing on how whole systems work unconsciously to defend against change or risk. The important news is that once social defences are explored and recognised, the work of an organisation can continue more productively.

Prevention, response and recovery activities are all equally important aspects in emergency management and trauma. It is the resilience and sustainability of organisations, and their ability to work well together in each of these phases that will lead to even greater capacity and ultimately, safer outcomes for communities.

Partners of attendees

Partners are welcome to attend the dinner and stay on the Friday evening as accommodation is in double rooms with an ensuite.  On the Saturday partners can enjoy the on-site 10 acres of the beautiful gardens, take a short drive to the historic townships of Kyneton, Woodend, Malmsbury or Trentham or visit the fine local wineries in the Macedon region. The area is known for fine food, interesting shopping and historic sites.

When & Where

Leading and Managing in the Emergency and Trauma Sectors Symposium

DATE:

Saturday 15th September 2018
Optional dinner & accommodation Friday 14th

TIME:

9am – 4:30 pm

LOCATION:

Victorian Emergency Management Institute
601 Mount Macedon Road, Mount Macedon, Victoria  3441

About NIODA

The National Institute of Organisation Dynamics Australia (NIODA) offers internationally renowned post-graduate education and research, and decades of experience consulting with Australian organisations. In 2018, their annual Symposium will explore the dynamics of interoperability and work within the emergency and trauma sectors.

The study of organisation dynamics brings together socio-technical and psychoanalytic disciplines to explore the unconscious dynamics that exist in every group, team or organisation. Learning more about these theories, and reflecting on the experience of them, can support leaders and managers to unlock great potential in their organisations, tackling issues through a whole new light.

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