Tag Archives: group relations

Turn Out

Free Play Softball
The photographer was player number twenty. Ringers Adam and Matt stand out because of their uniforms.



Free Play Softball enjoyed its first ideal turnout of the season. Twenty came, twenty played, and, hopefully twenty will return next week. As a group we have long been resourceful about our numbers. Everybody plays. This is true when the group obtain epic numbers–say, twenty-five or more–and, also, we’ve figured out how to configure a game when half the ideal number, ten, show up.

But, twenty is ideal.

This year, so far, we’ve played on field #8 once, choosing on other weeks to move our diamond away from the treacherous swamp formed by poor drainage behind the path from second to third base. This week we also adjusted our location and played on the fenced-in league field #3 adjacent to our scraggly open grass field, #8. It’s a fast, unforgiving infield attached to a capacious outfield that goes up hill.

In the past we’ve opted not to use the so-called pro field because it really demands keen infield play on its dirt infield. The consensus has been: we’re not really up to the challenge. But, once a year a group with a permit takes over the hallowed diamond and we make our way to a normal field, with benches, and fences, and puffy bases. This week two ringers showed up and were convinced to play in our grizzled circus.

The high point for me was the return of Dave B. His shoulder on the right side underwent some off-season carving, so I challenged him as to what position he thought he could manage throwing underhand. I put him out at pitcher and he did really well. His team moved him to second base–he’s an ace fielder–and he quickly generated an effective sidearm throw. And, testing his bony geometry with bat in hand he slapped hits around the field as if a surgeon hadn’t paid him any off season visit at all!

Free Play Softball
Once the game began all tools remained in the toolbox.

Authoritative Interventions
Prescriptive – You explicitly direct the person you are helping by giving advice and direction.
Informative – You provide information to instruct and guide the other person.
Confronting – You challenge the other person’s behavior or attitude. Not to be confused with aggressive confrontation, “confronting” is positive and constructive. It helps the other person consider behavior and attitudes of which they would otherwise be unaware.

Facilitative Interventions
Cathartic – You help the other person to express and overcome thoughts or emotions that they have not previously confronted.
Catalytic – You help the other person reflect, discover and learn for him or herself. This helps him or her become more self-directed in making decisions, solving problems and so on.
Supportive – You build up the confidence of the other person by focusing on their competences, qualities and achievements.

John Heron’s Six Applications for Intervention

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Filed under experiential learning, play

Between Anarchy, Hierarchy, Bureacracy; and, the Minimus Link

Free Play Players

I spoke to the gang about arriving at the field on time. Offering how it would be neat to commence play close to the traditional ten o’clock time.

How about arriving in a timely fashion, or, agreeing to complete seven innings and go past the traditional noon ending time?

Could we collectively reclaim the principle of playing a full game? Is this year’s collective attenuation of the traditional ten-to-noon time slot a problem?

The Freeplay Sunday Softball league remains an experimental design in practice. The Drs. Kolb have theorized the game mightily, while I have only partially theorized it. And, different than the Kolb’s emphasis on the game-as-learning-space, I’ve had to approach it in terms of its explicit pragmatics, and approach it also as the alignment of these (to a degree) within the concrete action space–out of which game play is evoked every Sunday. It would be accurate also then to state I’ve had to approach it as a once-a-week problem of repeatable organizational development.

My conscious role is to capture the projective identification collectively commensurate with having the minimum authority to assist the initiation of the game. This is an obtuse way to describe the flow of leadership features being pushed upon me and pulled away from me, ending up predictably as enough of a leader to help instantiate the game. This role is connected to predicates, and the most substantial four are: the equipment is stored in the trunk of may car; I make out the line-ups and have done so for nine years; I voice the necessary commands to shift the players to the next step of the initiation of the game; and, I am a willing and sticky enough egoic character with respect to those aforementioned projections.

I was away from the game for four weeks and the requisite authorities were recreated and put upon replacement characters, and this was accomplished without fuss.

After I communicated my entreaty about arriving on time or playing seven innings, a miniature discussion ensued. Several persons stated the noon ending time would remain their ruling assumption; one person stated there wasn’t a problem anyway; two people reminded that we often play six or seven innings in less than ninety minutes. I ended by reminding the entire group that “I could do in the future the experiment of starting on time with whomever was here.”


One player came up to me and suggested, “You’re the boss so you can do what you want.”

Well, yes to a degree, and, ‘no’ to a much greater degree.

I understand my temporary authority has to most rigorously attend to the minimal set of verities. I am one of the principal stewards of those verities. They are marvelously concrete too. The essential one reflects the truth of: commencing the first pitch, batter, play of the game!

After the first pitch, under normal circumstances, my authority fades away, having fulfilled the slim portfolio of duties.

Interestingly, this is given by my privileged perspective–after all, I am one of only a tiny group of participants who have implemented an intentional [1] third order [2] viewpoint; am one of the few who reflect on the game and step back from it and theoreticize about it.

I’m not the boss. Theoretically, my role can be described as mediating the practical Object Relations within the holding field of the game’s ritual space. This way of putting it captures theoretical concerns. What then could be told of the practical way projection works in the matter of holding group concerns together so that group objectives may be predictably achieved every Sunday? It’s OD.

The actual phenomena is much more complicated. None of our group wants me to disrupt the internalized flow of predictable anticipation to bring to their attention a problem of so-called organizational development. The status quo is partly primitive. Don’t bother ‘it!’

Oh, what’s he on [us] about now?

Actually, I go into this, knowing I am in a better position, as against the group, to voice my individual concerns. Nobody had come up to me to ask me to advocate for more group sensitivity to the game’s temporal parameters. My prior experience has been that we may complete seven, eight, nine or more innings of free play softball should we commence the game around ten o’clock. My own view is that more play is better than less play.

However, here is the gist of our case of organizational development: whatever I deem optimal for myself is just so, for myself. Although I could approach this soft need as a group problem–and I did so–what I found out was that it wasn’t a group problem at all. I didn’t smoke out any alignment [3] with my concern at all.

[1] implication of intentional is a determined, directed, effort, rather than the more informal ‘folk-psychological’ and tacit efforts presumptively deployed by players in directing their own efforts to make operative sense of the softball activity when experienced as a meeting of different other minds, so-to-speak

[2] selecting apt analytic/interpretive frames (3rd order) having reflective experience of (2nd order) direct experience (1st order)

[3] a minimus link: given by supposing any need to use organizational development for the sake of obtaining new optimal goals do require maximal linkages.

Learning to Play, Playing to Learn: A Case Study of a Ludic Learning Space, Alice and David Kolb, The Journal of Organizational Change Management (2010)[pdf]

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Filed under adult learning


Locus of Control Matrix (Original discussion on this blog: Slowing Down to Better Problem Solve.)

Group Entry Norming Matrix (Posted to the Netdynamics 2.0 group blog, Group Entry Schema.

My colleague, Eldon, and me enter into a dialog in the comments. This dialog points toward this:

Cognitive Construal Vectors

Anybody conversant with social psychology will note the conventions captured in this schema. The schema does not represent formalized theory-making. It simply depicts a way of looking at the conjunction of the egocentric/stereotypic conventions. (Hmmm, I shall coin a term, egotypic, less confusing to me than egocentric given the latter’s numerous meanings.)

I’ll be referring to and saying more about Netdynam 2.0. It is an offshoot of the Netdynamics email discussion list, of which I have been a spiky participant for 13+ years. If you’re interested in interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, or, oh yeah, post-disciplinary, wandering through the mashed fields of depth/social/group/personality psychology, and linguistics, and applied semiotics, and ecosemiosis, and, disruptive poetics, and the internet and Web 2.0, you can peruse the offerings, and, maybe give our tiny crew a pinch or two.

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Filed under social psychology, organizational development