Work organizations and institutions such as family, education and community have undergone radical shifts, and are continuing to change. Engaging with these shifts has meant dealing with stresses of isolation, loss of belonging, and self- doubt. The human being has created, for his/her self, a situation of near crisis while generating desired outcomes by way of material securities, productivity and comforts.
At the individual level, both self-identity and social identity have become fraught with doubts and misgivings. These confusions are managed with claims of success, achievements and status. Meaningfulness and hope are becoming major casualties here.
Given the wide flux in values, relatedness, and individual lifestyles, work organizations become the recipient of accumulated barriers to creative output. These barriers join together while the creative impulses remain submerged within individuals. The world of relationships faces the pulls of reality and expectations become fraught with evaluation and disappointments.
All institutions of belonging (family and community) and faith (brotherhood, religion) today face the constant threat of disintegration, with feelings of cynicism, let-down and hurt. The spiritual and psychosocial needs of people are ignored or made esoteric, leaving the human being in an atmosphere of functionality, acquisition and manifest achievements.
We believe that the time is at hand for people to recalibrate their frames of relationships, self-worth, meaningfulness, productivity and spirit. It is time for new definitions, congruent with emergent realities that constantly confront each one of us. We believe this would help people discover dignity with compassion. It will provide them the energy and convictions to redesign their life space and search for freedom of expression both in task and affiliative systems.
The Summer Program space of Sumedhas is one of the crucibles where such recalibrations, redefinitions and consequent release of new energy and convictions as described above may be explored in a psychologically safe setting with supportive resources.
Introducing underlying premises of Process Work and OD
These are key axioms and perspectives that underlie our offerings in the area of Process Work and Organization Development. These perspectives are summarized for the reader who may not yet be familiar with our work, our offerings, and the language.
1. Primacy of Identity
We believe that the wholeness and integrity of a living system is sustained through its identity (i.e. a reasonably stable set of internal processes/self-concept, and external interfaces/world view). While Identity is not static, it is the primary vehicle through which the living organism experiences a sense of continuity as also growth, transformation and evolution. In Process Work, identity becomes a key pivot for the individual to work with, and build on the aforementioned continuity, leading to growth and transformation. Labs on Identity and Role Taking become foundational work – the meta-labs build upon this work. In OD, Organizational Identity becomes the primary focus of Sumedhian thought as well. We believe that strategy, structure, systems, management processes, etc. are derivatives of how Identity is sustained.
2. Intraspective - Extraspective
A central principle in all interventions of Sumedhas is to “act with” rather than “act upon” the individual or the system. Consequently, “empathy without collusion” is its main currency. This necessarily entails an intraspective stance - imbued with compassion and to resonate with in the internal world of the individual and or the system. Simultaneously, since all individuals and systems also generate “closed loop transactions” which cannot be seen and broken from inside, a look from outside is equally necessary. Co-holding this location of being intraspective and extraspective becomes a key premise of our work.
3. The Simultaneity premise
This premise states that opposites co-exist and energy is generated through a tension between seeming polarities. The law of contradiction is not a feature of the phenomenal reality but only of the mind that is trying to comprehend it. Thus, what seems contradictory at one level of consciousness appears only as two sides of the same coin at another. In this sense, all dualities work towards unification.
4. Immanence and Transcendence
To us, Immanence (i.e. celebrating what is, and giving in or submitting to the context, and experiencing the consequent resonance and harmony within) is as important as transcendence that is usually associated with dynamism, purposive growth, action, and evolution. In our labs, there is an emphasis on both Immanence and Transcendence, and the space is not seen as a vehicle for mere achievement and growth.
5. Primacy of Dialogue
To us, the process of Dialogue is key towards taking the next step of change and transformation. Dialogue implies voluntariness in stating an authentic human encounter, and in non-judgmental listening to the other, thus creating a space for exploring convergence and correspondence.
6. Phenomenon Centricity
In our labs, we engage with the phenomenon and not normative categories like problems, etc. We believe that, often, surface level disturbances are needed for maintaining a deeper level of harmony in a living organism. Hence, problem solution can sometimes be more harmful and destructive. It attacks the dignity of the individual and is evaluative. In OD, since every phenomenon has different meanings for different parts of the system, its classification as a problem is, necessarily, a political exercise. Problem-centricity, therefore, creates inadvertent collusion with the existing power structure. Thus, engagement with any problem must include exploration of the context as also people who experience the problem and wish to solve it.