In order to provide appropriate learning opportunities, the conference is organized as a series of group and inter-group events. The structure and sequence of events are designed to provide opportunities to study the conscious and unconscious group dynamics that emerge and contribute to our experiences in groups and organizations. Conference events include:
Plenaries (Opening and Closing): The conference includes four plenary sessions, where the entire membership and staff meet. The purpose of the Conference Opening, which is the first conference event, is to establish a framework and to cross the boundary from daily life into the temporary organization that is the conference. The Institutional Event (see below) also opens and closes with plenary sessions. A Conference Discussion, held toward the conference’s end, provides an opportunity for members and staff to review the conference as a whole, to discuss their experiences, and to reflect together on what has been learned.
Small Study Group (SSG): Each member will be assigned to a Small Study Group, which will meet throughout the conference in order to explore the dynamics of small group behavior in the “here and now,” as reflected in members’ feelings, thoughts, fantasies and behavior. Consultants will be assigned to each group in order to promote learning about small group-level dynamics.
Large Study Group (LSG): The LSG consists of all members of the conference, assisted by a team of consultants. The task of the LSG is to explore the dynamics that emerge in a group that, due to its size, limits the possibilities for face-to-face interaction.
Social Dreaming Matrix (SDM): The SDM comprises all members of the conference working together in two groups with two consultants convening each group. The primary task of the SDM is to provide opportunities to discover the social meaning of dreams and they ways dreams may elucidate dynamics in the conference.
From the Inside Out: Finding Our Voices: This event is an opportunity to notice and explore how we lose our voices at moments when finding authority to speak our minds eludes us. Examples might include the suppression of disagreement, agreement, discomfort, empathy, and even love. This is an experiential “here and now”event where members and staff, together in a collective space, can develop an awareness of internal states and feelings, allowing us to have greater access to our authentic selves. The group is invited to witness, rather than consult to, the experiences that are shared.
Institutional Event (IE): The IE involves all members and staff and provides opportunities to study processes of group formation and relationships between and among subgroups within the conference institution in order to develop a better understanding of the organization as a whole. As groups interact, issues of leadership, followership, and representation (based on delegated authority) will be available for study. As part of its management function during this event, the staff will conduct its work in public and will be available for consultation. As noted above, the IE will open and close in plenary sessions.
Role, Review and Application Group (RRAG): Each member will be assigned to a Role, Review and Application Group, will meet several times during the conference. The task of these sessions will be to review and reflect on the meaning of one’s conference experiences and to begin to consider their relevance to members’ current or anticipated work and the roles they will be resuming in their professional, organizational and personal lives outside the temporary conference institution. Consultants will be assigned to facilitate the work of each group.
Role of the Staff
During the conference, staff members take up several roles. First, they act collectively as management, taking responsibility for managing boundaries of task, time and space in such a way that all participants (members and staff) can engage the work of the conference. Second, individual staff members take up specific administrative, consultative, and/or directorial roles. It is the task of the staff, working in their roles and based on their experiences and observations of events, to offer working hypotheses about what is happening in the “here and now.” The ways in which the staff, individually and collectively, take up their roles and exercise their authority are explicitly available for study by conference members.