Have you ever experienced a Time Out Of Time?

Benjamin P. Taylor
2 min readMar 29, 2023

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A moment when the action of work, play, or society stops.

A freeze-frame, when the actors step out of the scene and turn to face the audience — to face each other — and can explain their motivations, their feelings, their *experience* which is driving their behaviour.

How powerful would that be for management, conflict resolution, entrepreneurship, human resources?

It rarely happens in real life — though it could.

But it’s a powerful facilitation technique I learned from Barry Oshry’s power+systems work.

It’s a part of the experiential workshop where normal work is stopped. Where people move to a neutral space, sit in their groups by role (Top/Middle/Bottom/Customer/Helper in The Organisation Workshop, Dominant and Other in Encounters With The Other)… and share what their perspective on the #system is.

In ordinary life (and in workshops), it’s as if we’re interacting from one mysterious world to another — with a brick wall between. 00I pass something over the wall to you, you pass something back. I don’t know what’s going on behind your wall, in your world.

TOOTs provide an opportunity to share this.
It’s important that this special separate space isn’t a space to carry on the business of normal life, and it’s not a space to tell anecdotes (he said this… then she did that…) — it’s important to keep it abstract, not personal.

It’s a place for each part of the system to share what life is like for people in those conditions. What it feels life, how people in those roles relate to each other, and to others.

Not always and not every time, but with great predictability, you will see shared experiences and systemic explanations for the group dynamics. Not group unanimity — there are always outliers — but clear, deep patterns.

And then, with that systems insight, as a group, you can consider how to respond with better and deeper information.

Have you experienced something like that?
Have you had such shared insights into group patterns? How did you respond?

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