Guidelines for Group Assignment

  1. Each person in a learning circle group will present a problematic situation that he/she has experienced. The group will then select one such problematic situation which is agreed by all members to be a good “living case” because it represents generic issues relevant to the group and to the course (e.g., stuck patterns of behavior, systemic structures enacted through mental models which are not apparent to actors, etc.). It would be good (but not necessary) if more than one person in your group can relate to the problematic situation in their own work or personal experience.

  2. The person who has lived with the selected problematic situation will help the learning circle group understand the dilemmas and challenges within the situation, for example, by conducting a “projector and screen exercise” with the other group members. This exercise will be part of our introductory 3-day workshop, so you will know how to do this.

  3. The learning circle group will explore and articulate the problematic situation through designing “an embodiment exercise” to be enacted with members of the class. This exploration and articulation can be done in several ways:

    1. Writing a scenario and scripts that specify the roles, statements, and actions of various actors. The “script” can be fairly precise or it can be open-ended so as to allow the actors different possibilities for interpreting the situation.

    2. Providing a general description of the situation which includes:

      • the setting in which the problematic situation is manifest;
      • the different actors who are involved in this setting;
      • an articulation of different actors’ aims, expectations, habits, and binds; and
      • anything else that would help people get a feeling for what makes the situation problematic and challenging.
  4. In the class session, the learning circle group will seek volunteers to perform the different roles of the embodiment exercise. The learning circle group will then coach these volunteers in their roles, observe their “performances,” and debrief the whole exercise with the class.

  5. The debriefing should include a discussion (first in small groups, then in the larger group) of the enacted dynamics (habits of thought and action) evident in the problematic situation. This discussion can then be followed by further debriefing, if appropriate, using other tools (e.g., ladder of inference, 4-player model). The debriefing should close with a discussion of how the problematic situation might be addressed and resolved. A good debriefing should help each student connect the situation at hand to their own experiences, and show how the concepts and tools of the course can be applied.

  6. The overall aim of each embodiment exercise is to bring to life a real situation where enacted structures are shaping what occurs, so that the class gains insight into how and why people get stuck in problematic structures, and how they may come to understand their situation in alternative ways, thus allowing them to enact more effective structures.