Whole Systems Consulting Workshop Coming Up!

If you’ve been paying attention to your emails from AKRI or looking at the AKRI calendar on the website, you’ve noticed that we’re offering a Whole Systems Consulting weekend workshop this November.  It’s actually our fourth Whole Systems Consulting event, and the second weekend workshop led by René Molenkamp and Mark Kiel.  These events have been remarkably successful and we believe that they reflect a demand in the GR community for additional training events focused on application.  I’d like to briefly describe the backstory and the “why” behind these events, as well as some reasons I think they’re quite special.

There’s always been widespread awareness of the difference between Group Relations Conference (GRC) consulting and professional roles that involve consulting.  The AKRI membership has its share of the latter—whether full-time OD practitioners, or those whose professional roles involve consulting to the realities of their system (e.g., managerial, clinical, administrative, pastoral, or leadership roles).  But while AKRI offered formal training to become a GRC consultant, it offered nothing formal to develop the applied consulting skills in the world. 

 This has had a few effects.  First among them, anyone who wanted to get further training from AKRI in Group Relations work had only one option, with one outcome: certification as a GRC consultant.  This has certainly fallen short of serving the full range of interests in training opportunities, and it’s frequently noted that more people get trained to be GRC consultants than have the opportunity to be hired.  The second effect is that AKRI has hasn’t fully explored adapting our experience in conferences to consulting to external organizations.  

The Whole Systems Consulting program is meant to be a step in the direction of meeting more training needs and developing our organizational capacity around applying Group Relations thinking out in the world.  It’s the brainchild of Charla Hayden, whose vision has guided it through the years.  Along the way, Charla has been joined by Sonny Cyntrynbaum, Earl Braxton, Sarah Rosenbaum, René Molenkamp and Mark Kiel.  Together, they’ve drawn on their experience both in Group Relations and OD consulting as well as in teaching and mentoring to design an workshop for those with GRC experience who are working on ways to use their conference learning in their professional roles.

 Reviews of the first weekend workshop were superb (see below).  Many participants noted that the small size and case-based format meant that its impact could be felt immediately in their current roles and situations.  The training is intended for people with both GR conference experience and professional roles that involve consulting.  You can read more about it here — https://www.wholesystemsconsulting.org/ — including about the theoretical underpinnings, the workshop design, and the weekend logistics.  

 Please consider attending — registration is open and early-bird discounts are good until 9/23 — and recommending it to friends, students/trainees, and colleagues.  Feel free to email questions or comments here: [email protected].  Registration is limited to 12, and we’ll hope to see you in Chicago this November!


Here’s what past participants have had to say about the program:

“An excellent blend of aspects of theory, contextualized through experiential learning, with sufficient space for questions and reflection.”

“I learned a great deal about applying group relations theory to organizations.  The case examples were rich sources of data to influence my capacity to look at what data is needed to support recommendations.”

“Very thankful for the clear synopses provided by Mark and René, particularly around some complex concepts.  All materials covered became immediately accessible.”

“This was a great experience in the application of group relations theory to organizations.  Would like to see more of this.” 

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