Working Group

Working Group
November 20, 2016 11:45-2pm

How do we work? And how could we work, together, better? As the distance between psychotherapy and group team-building exercises grows steadily more narrow, we can’t help but ask ourselves what we are missing out on in the HR agendas of corporate America. Focused around those underserved by management and interpersonal relations techniques that seem simultaneously hackneyed and a little bit useful, Working Group asks how we can offer ourselves better individual and group career services for the contractor, the adjunct professor, the arts organizer and other nontraditional workers of the new economy. By addressing a number of different types of labor and workplace environments, we hope to provide an alternative to more exclusive or adversarial options currently available, such as the “lean-in” philosophy aimed at already successful female managers in corporate environments. What of these rules apply to the challenges faced in non-traditional workplaces?

The reading list will include classic texts from behavioral psychology–particularly focusing on the formats of the training and encounter group, interpersonal relations spectrums like FIRO and DISC and their historical spatialization and application in various office environments–and political philosophy–including Chantal Mouffe’s conception of agonism, notions of immaterial labor, the freelance economy and the changing workplace and civic theories of dissensus and new forms of participation.

We will build on historical and theoretical conversations from the readings by asking how they apply in concrete ways to our personal experiences. We will structure a loose agenda for collecting and structuring information using performance drawing and mind mapping, but the content will mainly be participant generated. We invite those with different perspectives based on discipline, position, age, race and gender orientation to help us gain a better understanding of the challenges facing members of the WCCW in team communication, collaboration, employer and institutional hierarchies and overall culture, whatever their career paths. We also hope to make this an open environment for the discussion and redefinition of the term “career” as a guiding metric for personal and professional success.

This conversation will build the foundation for a series of speculative workshops utilizing the tools of training groups, management theory and human resources intended to create a generative learning environment through collective experience. The group will engage in scored group walks and challenges, workplace role-play, agonistic conflict management (rather than resolution), and personal assessment exercises designed to heighten our awareness of group dynamics and the reflexive creation of work, identity, culture, territory, and self.

Organized by Maura Lucking and Jia Gu with Workshop Facilitators Nakisa Choupani, Psychiatric Social Worker at Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and Kate Rouze, Certified Leadership & Transformation Coach.
NOTE: In light of the outsized emotions and real fears for future change we bring with us following the presidential election, we plan to discuss intersectional strategies for advocacy both within the workplace and ways to use the economic and institutional power of even small collectives of coworkers to engage in civic activism. We are also asking (but not requiring) that participants donate $10 to participate, the sum of which will be donated to Planned Parenthood.
 Readings are available for download – please email and with any questions. 


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