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Interest Group in the Systems Psychodynamics of Organisations (IGSPO)

Society for Industrial and Organisational Psychology of South Africa

Interest Group Overview

The Interest Group in Systems Psychodynamics of Organisations (IGSPO) is a professional association of practitioners and scholars who are interested in applying the principles of Systems Psychodynamics to the study of organisations.

The Role of IGSPO

To create awareness of the nature, role, and importance of studying the systemic unconscious dynamics affecting organisational behaviour. A further goal of IGSPO is to create opportunities for SIOPSA members and South African organisations to become informed and gain competence in organisational consulting and coaching below the surface of consciousness. This is important in authorising psychologists and organisational consultants to include working with unconscious behaviour in their practices.

A brief description.

IGSPO was created by Dr Frans Cilliers (DPhil, Emeritus Professor) in 2013. The primary task of IGSPO is to create awareness of the nature, role, and importance of studying the systemic unconscious dynamics affecting organisational behaviour.

Interest Group in the Systems Psychodynamics of Organisations IGSPO

Which field of psychology does the interest group target?

Members of IGSPO come from a variety of backgrounds, including organisational consultants, psychologists, sociologists, and business professionals, among others.

Vision and Purpose

To provide a forum for members to share their knowledge and experiences, exchange ideas, and engage in professional development opportunities.

Strategic Objective

The goal of IGSPO is to create opportunities for SIOPSA members and South African organisations to become informed and gain competence in organisational consulting and coaching below the surface of consciousness.

IGSPO applies the Systems Psychodynamics approach to understanding the dynamics of human systems, such as organisations, that emphasizes the unconscious processes, dynamics, and emotions that are often hidden beneath the surface of organizational life. This approach draws on concepts from psychoanalysis, group dynamics, and systems theory to explore the complex, interdependent relationships between individuals, groups, and the larger organisational system.

IGSPO sponsors conferences, workshops, and other events focused on the application of Systems Psychodynamics to organisational life. Its members also publish articles, books, and other materials that explore the principles of Systems Psychodynamics and their application in organisational settings.

Committee Members

Dr Louise Tonelli
Dr Calum McComb
Dr Inette Taylor
Prof Michelle S May
Thembi Kgengwenyane
Dr Denis Haley

Recent Achievements

IGSPO/Tavistock Group Relations Conference 2023 – Ancestral meaning systems as they relate to leadership and Authority.

Group Relations Conferences represent the meeting point of a breadth of academic and phenomenal viewpoints. In many ways it is a synthetic-syncretic roadmap illuminating the path of human behaviour and thought processes. Group Relations’ unique proposition is: that the individual human being cannot be understood without consideration and appreciation of the context, both temporal and spatial, in which they are embedded and from which they emerge.

The work of psychoanalysis, one of the foundational concepts in Group Relations Conference thinking and action, has a clearly historical approach. Psychoanalysis states that our adult mental state and its associated behaviour, has at its roots, our early childhood experiences. Further illustration of the historical approach is the nature of the psychoanalytic profession itself. The importance placed on the lineage of the analyst is significant– many analysts spend time researching and drawing a line from Freud, Klein, Bion and Jung for example, down to their present analytic circle. A bit like the Old Testament lineage of Adam and Eve, where “x begat y”, analysts take pride in and take seriously the pedigree of their analytic lineage. Likewise, many older systems of learning and sensemaking, sometimes called Shamanic or Traditional systems, also consider the importance of lineage and their impact on our daily lives. In these traditional contexts, the terms used are ancestors. It is believed that Ancestors are living beings, who no longer have human bodies, but are vitally engaged in the shaping of human affairs, if one knows how to engage, listen, and respond to them.

Ancestral meaning systems also relate to our ancestors in Group Relations work – when we stand on the shoulders of giants to look to the here-and-now and the future. Then we encounter ancestors in our places of work – those we can identify with and those we are uncertain how to engage with. Then, our ancestor from our familial lineage also impacts of lives in ways we do not always reflect on.

This unique Group Relations Conference opens a portal for us to explore what is possible in making sense of the notion of ancestor, and to study what it could mean for our “here and now”, and what ancestral voices might mean in a cross-trans-post-colonial epistemology of what it means to be human, and how they relate to leadership and authority.

This conference is “Live-Online” from the Cradle of Civilisation, South Africa, and invites all interested in exploring the shamanic, and systems psychoanalytic in contemporary contexts and across generations.

Annual Listening posts: 67 minutes Mandela day pre-occupations A Systems Psychodynamics exploration (18 July 2022)

"What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived; it is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead." Mr Mandela (1918 - 2013)

Mandela Day is celebrated on 18 July every year to give thanks for his life, his leadership, and his devotion to humanity and to humanitarian causes. As part of IGSPO’s contribution to Mandela Day celebration,we call others to participate in this Listening post to contribute 67 minutes by elucidating our thoughts, feelings, preoccupations (conscious and unconscious) as communities in South Africa and across the world are affectedby many socio-political and socio-historical issues.

Annual Listening Post: South African organisations on the couch

Listening Posts (LP) are centrally associated with the Organisation for Promoting Understanding in Society (OPUS) situated in the United Kingdom. The premise is that a small group will unconsciously express some of the characteristics of the broader society which are discernible from themes and patterns in the discussion (Cummins, 2018). The LP, South African organisations on the couch invites the collective unconscious to speak through individual participants’ experiences and what the individual represents in the larger system. Convenors and participants, reflect on their experiences in their social, political, and economic environments, with the aim to learn about group, organisational and social dynamics, and relatedness to organisations. This has the benefit of reflection on important conscious and unconscious matters manifesting in organisations that organizational citizens do not normally have the time for or are allowed to do.

Annual Winter Solstice Social Dreaming Matrix

The Solstice Social Dreaming Matrix is a reflective space in which dreams and associations are shared. The focus is on the dream and not the dreamer and once a dream is shared it belongs to the system. The Winter Solstice marks the longest night in the calendar year and serves as a metaphor for the unconscious and dreaming. The Winter Solstice also marks the turning point at which the sun illuminates more of our waking lives. It is a transition point from Thanatos to Eros and forms an ancient natural cycle that connects us to the earth and to the stars. The Winter Solstice Social Dreaming Matrix provides an opportunity to connect and reflect with the unconscious, the earth, and the natural rhythm of life on a deeper level.

Annual Systems Psychodynamic Leadership coaching workshop

The primary task of the workshop is to provide opportunities for participants to study the unconscious manifestation of systemic leadership behaviour, to take up the role as leadership coach to these dynamics, and to process the learning towards its application in their own work environments. Learning opportunities are provided for participants in Systems Psychodynamic leadership coaching skills, awareness of rational and irrational / unconscious organisational behaviour, of using the self as instrument, negative capability, the application of object relations, the forming of attachments, and the formulation of working hypotheses towards influencing a work system below the surface. Also included are an ethical awareness whilst working with unconscious behaviour, and The Seven Eye Supervision Model (Peter Hawkins).

Our Research Component

Research is an important aspect within the system psychodynamic world. IGSPO formally takes up the opportunity to do research in different settings, including research related to events hosted by IGSPO. This research will enable different research outputs, including but not limited to (conference) presentations, research articles and research reports. To do research and publish articles in accredited journals, ethics clearance will be applied for from SIOPSA or different universities depending on the research network of the primary investigator. As the research portfolio develops this allows for those members interested in doing research, to take up research project within IGSPO and probably in collaboration with a university or accredited research institution. All research projects started by IGSPO or with IGSPO as a research partner must be registered, with IGSPO’s research portfolio. 

Primary task - Use IGSPO events as research and publication opportunities to publish SP research. 

Joining this Interest Group

Who can join this interest group?

Members of IGSPO come from a variety of backgrounds, including organisational consultants, psychologists, sociologists, and business professionals, among others.

Why Join (Benefits and Opportunities)?

Overall, IGSPO is a community of professionals dedicated to deepening our understanding of the complex dynamics of organisations and supporting individuals and groups in their work within these systems.


Upcoming Events

Interest Group Resources

Group Relations Conference April 2024

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2023 GRC pre-conference dialogues

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