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I have written before about the need to embrace messy coherence or in more technical terms, coherent heterogeneity, a term I first encountered in the work of Dave Snowden. While most intuitively understand this need, how to achieve it practically remains elusive. We are emerging from a time where alignment and efficiency were pursued like the holy grail. The shift towards embracing messiness and diversity seems almost impossible, especially to leaders and managers who equate competence with control. Yet, I encounter similar questions in almost every conversation: how do we distribute decision-making and authority? How do we build strong coherent…

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I love to write; it is one of the primary ways that I make sense of things. Last year I felt that I never had the time or inspiration to write, so over the December holiday, I started a series of posts intending to explore various fields I have been interested in for a while. In the first post, I made it known publicly what the themes were and intended to write a series — hoping this would create an incentive and help me keep going. …

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While researching these posts, I encountered a whole host of new thinking about the changes needed to make group relations and systems psychodynamic work relevant in today’s fluid, virtual, and entangled world. Some of my previous posts also created interesting conversations on platforms like LinkedIn. All of this has sent my thinking in new directions, so I am changing tack a bit. Instead of doing more in-depth exploration on a single lens, I want to reflect instead on how we can spend time in the liminal and messy space between the various lenses and perhaps from there find adjacent possibilities.

My first experience of a Group Relations event was pretty“discombobulating”. It was like being dumped into a strange parallel universe filled with foreign language, frustrating “ consultants” and trying to find your way through perpetual confusion with a group of complete strangers. I threw myself into that context with no knowledge of the various theories that underpin the method. Maybe because of that, I was able to be in the moment, not in my head and therefore the learning about myself and my own patterns of relating were profound. After this experience I made a point of acquainting myself with…

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My first experience of a group relations conference and a systems psychodynamic consulting stance was weird and profoundly unsettling. It was also one of the richest learning experiences in my life. We spent five days in a state of confusion, ambiguity, and often deep frustration. The learning environment set up by the faculty felt artificial and rigid. We found ourselves in a world of rigidly held time boundaries, highly ambiguous instructions, and weird consultants that kept speaking in riddles (or what my husband called “Lord of the Rings language”). After a while, in this environment, defenses could no longer be…

As we enter the liminal time between 2020 and 2021, I find myself in a reflective yet restless frame of mind. It feels like I barely had time to think this year; looking back, 2020 seems like one long Zoom blur. Before we knew how disruptive it would turn out to be, I had many new ideas I wanted to explore at the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, many fell by the wayside. Some because of a lack of time, but mostly because I felt like I couldn’t string coherent thoughts together. …

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Presents/Presence by John O’Donohue

I give you an emptiness

I give you a plenitude

unwrap them carefully

-one’s as fragile as the other–

and when you thank me

I’ll pretend not to notice the doubt in your voice

when you say they’re just what you wanted.

Put them on the table by your bed.

When you wake in the morning

they’ll, have gone through the door of sleep

into your head. Wherever you go

they’ll go with you and

wherever you are you’ll wonder,

smiling about the fullness

you can’t add to and the emptiness

that you can fill.


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“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

I have never been a big fan of linear models like the Kubler-Ross grief curve and all…

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“When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.” ― Tuli Kupferberg

A few weeks ago, I wrote about what I experienced as the “strange in-between”, knowing that everything has changed, but still feeling as if nothing has changed. So much has changed since then. As we enter our third week of lockdown here in South Africa, things have most definitely changed. Carrying hand-sanitiser bottles everywhere; wearing a mask to go shopping; never leaving my home except to buy groceries; these are strange times indeed.

I still find myself in a liminal space, that strange in-between persists, but now it has evolved…

I’ve been engaging with the notion of liminality as a concept for a while now, especially since Dave Snowden introduced his liminal version of the Cynefin framework. Now it has become my lived reality. It feels like I have been dumped (rather unceremoniously) into a strange in-between state. It is a place filled with tensions, opposites and paradox. I know the world has irrevocably changed, but in my local context, everything still seems strangely (and alarmingly) normal. I am aware of the enormous transformative potential of this moment, like a collective cocooning process that we shouldn’t waste. …

Sonja Blignaut

Enabling Responsive Organisations

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