The Art and Science of Working Together: Practising Group Analysis in Teams and Organisations, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Art and Science of Working Together

Practising Group Analysis in Teams and Organisations, 1st Edition

Edited by Christine Thornton


280 pages

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pub: 2019-05-14
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The Art and Science of Working Together: Practising Group Analysis in Teams and Organizations is a primary resource for anyone wishing to learn more about the complex unconscious dynamics of organizations, providing a practical guide for organizational work, a guide to how to improve things, and a strong theoretical foundation in the group analytic concept of the ‘tripartite matrix’.

Group analysis is a highly developed science of group relationships, which allows complexity and systems perspectives to be held in mind alongside organizational psychology, strategic development and business wisdom. Organized into eight sections, the book describes the essence of organizational group analysis, including the art of conversation, leadership, ethical issues in team working, and working with whole organizations. It addresses issues such as ‘us-and-them’ dynamics, the nature of systems boundaries, and the relationship between an organization and its context.

Leaders and leading consultants give case studies, describing their thinking as they work, to illustrate the theory in action. This essential new resource will allow clinically trained practitioners to extend their scope into organizational work, and all coaches and leaders to benefit from knowledge of the group analytic discipline. It is essential reading for consultants and coaches working with teams and organizations, and for leaders within organizations.


"This book offers profound and revealing insights into how we humans work and live together in the groups we form and leave. Our development as a species has enabled us to trace the origins of the universe, to unravel the structure of our life forms, to understand something of the functioning of quantum particles and black holes. We have done this in groups and teams over more than 300,000 years and evolved an ability and inclination to work and live in groups. This book is unique in enabling us to make wiser sense of the complexity and beauty of these interactions, predicated as they are on dialogue. It offers a richer understanding than many of the easy and superficial management books on teamworking and group functioning and enables us to begin to imagine how we can overcome some of the profound challenges of working within and across groups that we face." -- Professor Michael West, Lancaster University Management School

"The current era is plagued by over-simplification, when it needs simplexity — the art of making things simple (ie understandable) but not simplistic. Group analysis is one of the most powerful tools we have to cope with growing complexity. This book is a major contribution into this growing field of insight and practice." – Professor David Clutterbuck, David Clutterbuck Partnership

"Dialogue between different perspectives, offering much to all of us who work with the challenges of enabling change in organisations and wider systems." --Professor Peter Hawkins, author of Leadership Team Coaching

"An impossible task! Capturing the essence of this important book-- it is all so valuable." --Frances Griffiths, Chair, Institute of Group Analysis

"A major contribution to this growing field." --Professor David Clutterbuck

"Offers a richer understanding than many of the easy and superficial management books on teamworking and group functioning." --Professor Michael West, Professor of Organizational Psychology Lancaster University Management School

"A rich resource for consultants and managers looking for alternative ways of thinking." --Chris Mowles, Professor of Complexity and Management, Hertfordshire Business School

Table of Contents

NILGA Series editor's foreword Earl Hopper

I Editor’s introduction: what group analysis can offer in organisational work

1 Coming to group analysis and using this book Christine Thornton

2 Group analytic praxis in organizations

Christine Thornton

3 Persecutor, victim, rescuer: imperfect consulting in an imperfect world Christine Thornton

4 Group analytic praxis and persecutor, victim, rescuer Christine Thornton

II The art of conversation: complexity, the matrix and ‘parallel process'

5 The art of conversation: group analytic interventions in organisational life

Chris Rance

6 Complex reflections: notes on ‘parallel process’ and the group matrix in group analytic organizational consultancy David Wood

III The wider organisational context

7 Stability or chaos, authoritarianism or dialogue: towards a matrix of critical and creative thought at a time of uncertainty and threat Dick Blackwell

8 ‘Practising disappointment’: from reflection to action in organizations and communities Chris Scanlon

IV Leadership, authority and power

9 Using groups in leadership: bringing practice into theory

Clare Gerada

10 Another fine mess you’ve gotten me into: effective leadership in a difficult place Raman Kapur

11 Leadership and "Another fine mess" by Raman Kapur

Morris Nitsun

12 Creative chaos: containing transforming space in Kid’s Company and other stories

Farideh Dizadji

V Inside the practitioner’s mind: how we frame praxis

13 Inside out Chris Powell

14 Context and the interpretive act: developing the language of the matrix for working in and with organizations Christine Oliver

15 Joining the organisational game: five questions Margaret Smith

VI Praxis and ethical issues in team working

16 Turning a blind eye: on personal and professional boundaries in mental health settings groups Ewa Wojciechowska

17 Values in practice: dilemmas in reflective practice Ian Simpson and Gwen Adshead

18 Working with multi-cultural groups in organisations: issues of power and difference Vince Leahy and Abdullah Mia

VII Working with whole organisations

19 A conversation with Earl Hopper Earl Hopper and Christine Thornton

20 Creating thinking spaces in organisations: dynamic administration in groups large and small Cynthia Rogers

21 Large groups the group analytic way Gerhard Wilke

22 Whole organisations, mergers and the matrix: translucent boundaries and ‘tweaking’ culture creatively

Christine Thornton and Gerhard Wilke

23 Translucent boundaries, leaders and consultants: how to work with whole organizations Gerhard Wilke and Christine


VIII The ending

24 The end is in the beginning: perspectives from two group analytic consultants Christine Thornton and Gerhard Wilke

About the Editor

Christine Thornton is a group analyst, organizational consultant, and author of the best-selling Group and Team Coaching. She was Founding Director of the IGA RPiO organizational training and has been honoured for contributions to the coaching profession. Christine works with organizational leaders and coaches, enabling better understanding of unconscious systemic and relationship dynamics.

About the Series

The New International Library of Group Analysis

Drawing on the seminal ideas of British, European and American group analysts, psychoanalysts, social psychologists and social scientists, the books in this series focus on the study of small and large groups, organisations and other social systems, and on the study of the transpersonal and transgenerational sociality of human nature. NILGA books will be required reading for the members of professional organisations in the field of group analysis, psychoanalysis, and related social sciences. They will be indispensable for the "formation" of students of psychotherapy, whether they are mainly interested in clinical work with patients or in consultancy to teams and organisational clients within the private and public sectors.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health