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Exploring Authority & Systems: the courage to lead curiously

A five-day residential Group Relations Conference

Monday 13th May 2019 - Friday 17th May 2019

Alpha Conference Centre, Cradle of Humankind, South Africa

TILT / The Institute for Leadership and Transformation
The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, UK
Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria

Primary Task
Role of Staff
Info & Fees
Web Sites


Dear potential member

For the past three million years we have been shaping our world as much as we have been shaped by it. A temporary world composed of dynamic human systems. Intertwined and imperfect. Beautiful and destructive.

But how are we contributing to the human systems of our daily experience? Dare we create spaces for curious thought about how we are being and working together? Spaces that invite the examination of both our creative and destructive tendencies, lest we simply contend with spotting the good in ourselves and the bad in the Other?

I believe that leaders have an immense responsibility to enable their teams, organisations and nations to think. I believe that curiosity sheds light, shows cracks, asks questions, opens possibilities and connects people, while defensiveness conceals, attacks, blames and divides. Let’s take the human race forward. Let’s dare exploring our own experience in our roles and institutions, even if it may seem curious to others…

​To my knowledge, there is no better methodology than a Group Relations Conference for enabling and containing the here-and-now study of human relations. Since its inception in 1957, this methodology, inspired and led by the Tavistock Institute in the UK, has been applied, adapted and improved in a variety of settings worldwide.

I therefore warmly invite you: Join us as we continue our curiosity and learning here, in Africa, where it all began.

Jean Cooper
​Conference Director

This conference forms part of the four-module Certificate Programme ‘Dynamics of Leading and Consulting’
​and can either be taken as a stand-alone learning experience, or as part of the overall programme.

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Conference Aims and Primary Task

To provide opportunities to study our experience of exercising authority and taking up leadership curiously as we co-construct the conference as a temporary learning organisation within its systemic context.

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The Development Aims:
  • Improved strategic thinking;
  • An understanding of how organisational culture works
  • Developing capacity for thoughtful, effective action;
  • More effective management, based on understanding people in context as individuals, as members of groups, organisations and the wider society;
  • Increased capacity to lead and manage in uncertain or rapidly changing environments; and
  • The opportunity for direct feedback about issues and challenges in the workplace and how to apply the conference learning back in your organisation.
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An opportunity to learn through curiosity
A Group Relations Conference (GRC) provides unique opportunities to study organisations as ever-evolving human systems. The conference takes the form of a temporary learning organisation that comes to life during the opening moments of the conference, studies its own dynamics as these unfold, and dissolves at the end. It is an accelerated, ‘real time’ learning laboratory. Participants become aware of their own reactions and responses to authority and leadership and are invited to take a curious and investigative stance towards their here-and-now experiences in the conference and how these relate to their roles in other institutional systems.

This year the conference will consist of three sub-conferences. Some conference events are specific to each sub-conference whilst others are for the conference-as-a-whole. Over the course of the conference the ever-shifting relations within and between these sub-systems are open for scrutiny:

Beginning Sub-Conference for people who have not taken part in a residential Group Relations Conference in the Tavistock tradition before;

Immersing Sub-Conference for people who have participated in at least one residential Group Relations Conference;

Advancing Praxis Sub-Conference for people who have had multiple Group Relations Conference experiences and who wish to specifically advance their ability to work in conferences and apply their Group Relations experience in other settings.

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I come away from these experiences challenged, deeply reflective and in some ways fundamentally changed. I also learn to see systems, people and interactions very differently” - Organisational Consultant, Johannesburg

“This time around attending this Conference helped me Get My Voice Back.” - Financial Manager, Johannesburg

“It was indeed a great opportunity to attend the GRC outside of India. The experience was really awesome being amongst some of the most evolved individuals which helped me in introspection and learning” - Senior Executive, India

“The diversity of the participants was an extra factor to get a deeper learning and understanding about inclusion and exclusion in society, organizations and groups.” - Organisational Consultant, The Netherlands

“The opportunity to discover your role in a group/system and to see the unconscious dynamics play out is theatre at its best – except it is not mirrors or smoke but your reality. I realized that you can only learn best when you are outside of your comfort zone, at the boundaries of the unknown…” - Industrial/Organisational Psychologist, South Africa

“What an experience! I cannot help to notice my role and the world around me in a much different light than before.” – Lean/Agile Coach, South Africa

“I am surprised at how I can take up an authentic role in different scenarios in my own life more frequently and with more ease. I will highly recommend attending this conference to anyone who is willing to understand their own dynamics as part of a system. It is fascinating!” – Industrial/Organisational Psychologist and Business Consultant, South Africa

“I didn’t know then how the conference would impact me months afterwards. I learned a lot about myself and learned how to articulate things better. Also, the experience of sharing with others a journey together and alone opened my thinking to a lot of different views and to experience the points of view.” – Social Entrepreneur, South Africa

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Anyone who desires an in-depth understanding of leadership and organisational life: Team leaders, CEOs, project managers, entrepreneurs, consultants, coaches and educators. Participants come from business, education, government, health services, NGOs, the arts, politics etc.

​The conference is designed as an environment for learning and should not be seen as a substitute for personal psychotherapy.

If you are currently experiencing acute personal difficulties we advise that you rather consider joining next year's conference. Or, speak with Mncedisi Nkhoma, Conference Administrator, personally before registering: +27 (0) 73 626 6151.

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Role of Staff

The conference staff provides and maintains the boundaries of the conference as a temporary learning organisation. Within these boundaries the conference participants (members and staff) work towards the primary task of the conference and the various tasks of the different subsystems and events that constitute the conference.

The role of staff is not to passively observe or evaluate members, but to use their experience and being-in-the-moment to offer working hypotheses, interpretations and observations to assist members in their work towards the primary task, in the here-and-now. The staff therefore has both a management and a consulting role. The way in which staff take up their roles is always open for exploration.

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Conference Director & Director of Beginning Sub-Conference
​​Jean Cooper   PhD (South Africa)
Organisational and Leadership Consultant in private practice; Registered Industrial Psychologist; Research Associate: Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS); Founder: The Institute for Leadership and Transformation (TILT).

Associate Conference Director & Director of Immersing Sub-Conference
Michelle S. May  DLitt et Phil (South Africa)
Clinical psychologist: HPCSA (Health Professions Council of South Africa); Professor: Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, UNISA (University of South Africa); Programme manager: Doctorate in Consulting Psychology; Director (2002 to 2014): Robben Island diversity experience (RIDE).

Associate Conference Director & Director of Advancing Praxis Sub-Conference
Eliat Aram  PhD (UK, Israel)
CEO: The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations; Applied Complexity theory educator; Chartered Psychologist, BPS (British Psychological Society); Gestalt psychotherapist and supervisor, Metanoia Institute, London; Member, OFEK (The Israeli Association for the Study of Group and Organizational Processes), Israel.

Conference Administrators
Lurinda Maree Mcom  (South Africa)
Registered Psychologist(cat. Industrial; Organisational Consultant in Change and Transformation;and applied Theatre Specialist).

Mncedisi Nkhoma​  B.Compt (UNISA)
Professional Accountant (SA).

Consulting staff will be drawn from the following list:
Frans Cilliers  DPhil (South Africa)
Emeritus Professor (UNISA), Extraordinary Professor (NWU), Psychologist (cat. industrial), Organisational Consultant, Leadership Coach.

Marina Clark  PhD (South Africa)
Registered Psychologist (cat. Clinical); Organization Development Consultant, Investec.

Olga Coetzee  D Com (South Africa)
Organisational Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach in private practice.

Thembi Kgengwenyane  BA (South Africa)
Organisational excellence, diversity, change, transformation, and strategic facilitation. Trained in Diversity Dynamics through systems psychodynamics model (Tavistock application model), Member and administrator: RIDE (Robben Island Diversity Experience).

Philippe Lawson   (France and Togo)
Consultant-Coach, Founder and Director of Otherness, Advisers in Leadership & Transformation, Paris. Born in Togo, based in France.

Matome Enias Mafokoane  MBA, MM Public & Development Management (South Africa)
Organisational Change & Development Consultant and Coach; Founder and Managing Member: Ditlou Solutions Management, Organisation Development and Training Consultancy; Board Member: Africa Board for Coaching, Consulting and Coaching Psychology.

Thabo Mofomme  (MPA) Masters of Public Administration (South Africa)
Organisational Effectiveness Specialist in Human Capital Development Planning and Monitoring at South African Revenue Services (SARS), Registered Master HR Professional Organisation Development in SABPP; Integral Coach Consultant.

Lerato Motsoaledi   PhD (South Africa)
Organisational Development Consultant, Executive Coach and Clinical Psychologist in Independent Practice.​

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Info and Fees

13 - 17 May, 2019.
​Exact starting and ending times, plus all relevant details for joining the conference, will be communicated well in advance to all registered conference members.

Alpha Conference Centre, Cradle of Humankind, South Africa
K41, Lanseria Road (R512), Broederstroom, South Africa (25°50'03.5"S+27°53'15.0"E)

Conference Fee
All meals and 4 nights' accommodation are included in the fee.
Full fee - R 23,500.00
Discounted fee* - R 18,800.00

*Prospective participants meeting any of the following criteria qualify for a 20% discount:

Pre-registering for the entire Certificate Programme of four modules;
Having participated as a member or staff in at least one TILT Group Relations Conference or other training event since 2016;
Having participated in at least 10 of TILT’s monthly Thinking or Reading Systems since 2014;
Being one of two or more participants from the same organisation;
Being a full-time student, academic or independent consultant or coach.

​For more information please contact the Conference Administrator, Lurinda Maree and Mncedisi Nkhoma

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Bursaries are available. Please enquire from our Conference Administrator, Mncedisi Nkhoma.

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Application process:

Spaces are limited, so apply as soon as possible.
Application deadline: 28 April 2019

Submit your application online or download the PDF form and email your completed form to our Conference Administrator, Mncedisi Nkhoma

All applications should be accompanied by a R5 000.00 deposit, which is non-refundable except in the event that an application is unsuccessful.

Eligible applications will be taken on a first-come basis, taking into account the programme directors’ selection policy of aiming to achieve a diverse and balanced participant group.

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Web Sites

Online form:
Tilt International:

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