1st Edition

An Introduction to Systems Psychodynamics Consultancy Research and Training

By David Lawlor, Mannie Sher Copyright 2022
    332 Pages
    by Routledge

    332 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book provides an introduction to systems psychodynamic theory and its application to organisational consultancy, research and training, outlining systems dynamics methods and their historical and theoretical developments.

    Systems Psychodynamics is an emerging field of social science, the boundaries of which are continually being refined and re-defined. The ‘systems’ designation refers to open systems concepts that provide the framing perspective for understanding the structural aspects of organisational systems. These include its design, division of labour, levels of authority, and reporting relationships; the nature of work tasks, processes and activities; its mission and primary task; and the nature and patterning of the organisation’s task and sentient boundaries and the transactions across them. This book presents a critical appraisal of the systems psychodynamics paradigm and its application to present-day social and organisational difficulties, showing how a holistic approach to organisational and social problems can offer a fresh perspective on difficult issues. Bringing together the theory and practice of systems psychodynamics for the first time, this book provides an examination of the systems psychodynamics paradigm in action.

    This book gives an accessible and thorough guide to understanding and using systems psychodynamic ideas for analysts, managers, policy makers, consultants and researchers in a wide range of professional and clinical settings.

    Introduction: History of the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations  Part I: "Dawn" Systems  1. The systems contribution  2. The systems psychodynamics approach  Part II: Psychoanalytic thinking  3. The psychoanalytic contribution  4. Application of psychoanalytic concepts  5. Working with individuals Part III: Group Dynamics  6. Bion’s theory of groups  7. Working with Groups I  8. Working with Groups II  9. The Contribution of Group Relations I  10. The Contribution of Group Relations II  11. Systems Psychodynamics and Organisational Consultancy  12. Defences against Anxiety  Part IV: Socio-technical Systems  13. Socio-technical Systems  14. Socio-technical Systems in the 21st Century  15. Summary of Volume I


    David Lawlor, Professional Partner, Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, specialising in research and consultancy practice; co-director, Organisational Consultancy: Working with the Dynamics; Visiting Lecturer, Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust; Group Relations consultant; Formerly, Head, Social Work Discipline, Tavistock & Portman NHS Trust; Principal Consultant, Tavistock Consultancy.  

    Mannie Sher, Principal Social Scientist, Tavistock Institute of Human Relations; Formerly, Director, Group Relations Programme; Formerly, Board Member, International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organisations (ISPSO); Author, The Dynamics of Change: Tavistock Approaches to Improving Social Systems (2013); Editor, Dynamics at Boardroom Level: A Tavistock Primer for Leaders, Coaches and Consultants.

    "The authors of this wonderfully comprehensive book invite us to embrace systems psychodynamics to support our leadership, followership and consultancy in organisations.  It is essential reading for all who care about understanding and solving the often complex and enduring people and technical problems that exist in the workplace.  It challenges us to be curious about the unconscious, to allow ourselves to be affected by what is going on - and not to move into action immediately.

    Having previously worked with organisational role consultants in a police force, I can testify that the systems psychodynamics approach described in this book was transformational in the way that it opened our eyes to the unconscious processes in our organisation.  We saw, for the first time, what was really going on under the surface, rather than what was apparent above it.  This book provides a complete guide.  It is both an in-depth analysis of the theories underpinning this approach to organisational development, and a rigorous analysis of how consultants and clients can use an understanding of unconscious group processes to: generate ideas for change, test these ideas in practice, and evaluate the results.  Anyone interested in optimising the way the social and technical systems in their organisation work and in their inter-organisational relationships should read this." - Stephen Otter, QPM, ex Chief Constable and Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary


    "Welcome to this comprehensive introduction to the world of Systems Psychodynamics as a frame of reference for both understanding and consulting to organizations of all kinds. The chapters co-authored by the editors and the most original thinkers in the field offers the reader a rare view of the field in its entirety and its essence. This book highlights the challenges of joining the subjective world of experience, where thoughts and feelings beneath the surface are often formative, with the objective world of job and organization design. This task, as this most honest book reveals, is by no means an easy one. But the gains from taking it up, are incalculable. Thinkers and doers, academics and consultants: Read it and learn!" - Larry Hirschhorn, PhD., Principal Emeritus, CFAR, Author, The Workplace Within and Reworking Authority

    "My training at the Tavistock changed the way in which I view organisations and groups. It presented me with the wide spectrum of colours that exist in real organisational life that once seen cannot be ignored and allowed me to see the true pictures painted by the psychodynamics of organisational life and group relations. This book opens up the history and presence of the work of the Tavistock Institute. Not many people know about the history of the Institute and its influence on the terms and ideas that we take for granted, organisational development being one of them, but it might be a revelation to many to note the deep history of Tavistock thinking and doing and its impact on many systems and organisations. In some ways, the history of the Tavistock is the history of organisational thinking and how it relates to what we know of the mind. There are big ideas in this book presented in a way that is both accessible and illuminating. The Tavistock continues to punch well above its weight. The story of this book and its intended volumes explains why." - Lord Victor O Adebowale, MA., CBE., Visiting Prof. & Chancellor, University of Lincoln, Chair, NHS Confederation