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Getting Our Act Together by Glen Ochre

4.00 out of 5 based on 1 customer rating
(2 customer reviews)

$40.00 $36.45

Engaging, lively and delightfully personal this book is original, practical and easily understood.

Glen Ochre’s insights can be applied in all sorts of group settings – community, workplace, therapy, lobbying – wherever people come together to work collaboratively. Her passion for the transformative potential of co-operation can be felt on every page. As many who have worked with Glen have attested, the skills she shares in her book are also skills for life.

Getting Our Act Together can help you to: Understand yourself in groups, Get along with people, Make decisions collaboratively, Have great meetings, Talk about difficult ‘stuff’, Start a new group. What to do when trouble strikes! Resolve conflict

“possibly the best resource on working with community, neighbourhood, and even household, groups” – David Holmgren

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Getting Our Act Together – How to Harness the Power of Groups by Glen Ochre

We can spend a lot of time in groups – work, community, recreation and family. Sometimes groups work well and sometimes they don’t.  Common problems include not getting along together, poor decision making and inefficient meetings. However, we don’t have to leave it to chance or just put up with things that don’t work that well. If you want to work better with others, and get your act together, this is the book for you.

Director of the Groupwork Institute of Australia, Glen Ochre, brings together more than 40 years’ experience to unravel the intricate dynamics of groups. Her practical guide focuses on situations where problems most often arise and provides the ‘nuts and bolts’ of how to overcome them.

A wonderful guide to working with groups from a gifted facilitator – Bob Brown

Whimsically illustrated throughout, this book provides tools that can be applied in all sorts of group settings – community, workplace, therapy, lobbying – wherever people come together to work collaboratively.

Getting Our Act Together can help you to:

  • Understand yourself in groups
  • Get along with people
  • Make decisions collaboratively
  • Have great meetings
  • Talk about difficult ‘stuff’
  • Start a new group
  • What to do when trouble strikes!
  • Resolve conflict


Introduction • First Things First • Power and Influence • Starting a New Group • Self-awareness and Personal Responsibility • The Micro-skills for Collaboration • Getting Along Together • Group Agreements • Planning • Facilitation • Meetings • Collaborative Decision-making • Conflict • When Trouble Strikes… • Structures • Taking Care of Ourselves • Finally …

Paper Back – full colour – 151 Pages – 220 x 260mm – Self Published in 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. ISBN 9780646573984

About the Author

Glen Ochre was recognised as one of Australia’s best and most experienced facilitators. She specialised in collaborative processes for organisations and groups, working in a vast range of settings and with a wide diversity of issues. She developed a core body of processes and tools for facilitating transformation in groups.

Glen was one of the founding members of Commonground, an intentional community and venue for social change groups. She began consulting and training in 1983 and initiated the Groupwork Institute in 2000 to provide facilitation training for the next generation. Glen passed away in May 2014 after a 15 month wrestle with pancreatic cancer.

Her autobiography, Child of the Earth is also available.


Glen died on May 13, 2014, after a 15 month wrestle with pancreatic cancer. – See more at: http://tributes.theage.com.au/obituaries/theage-au/obituary.aspx?pid=171032031#sthash.NtT1fHKT.dpuf
Glen died on May 13, 2014, after a 15 month wrestle with pancreatic cancer. – See more at: http://tributes.theage.com.au/obituaries/theage-au/obituary.aspx?pid=171032031#sthash.NtT1fHKT.dpuf

Additional information

Weight .630 kg
Dimensions 215 x 260 x 15 mm

2 reviews for Getting Our Act Together by Glen Ochre

  1. 4 out of 5

    Working with groups can be as challenging as it is rewarding. Working successfully with groups requires skills and tools that we aren’t necessarily born with, and that’s where this guide can be of help.

    Glen Ochre, a respected facilitator and educator, passed away earlier in the year. In Getting Our Act Together she shares her life’s passion for collaboration with skills that she honed at Commonground – the intentional community and social change venue that she co-founded in 1984.

    Identifying the need to work on ourselves before we can become effective collaborators Glen developed the ‘community of selves’ model as a way to understand our own actions and reactions. An extensive array of micro-skills provide the communication tools for engaging with others.

    With that foundation, she outlines how to form a group, from making agreements in the beginning to planning and facilitation and on to running meetings that finish on time. With the acknowledgment that trouble will strike, there’s tips on minimising and dealing with conflict as well as taking care of ourselves so we don’t burn out.

    A useful resource for anyone interested in working effectively with groups or honing their own facilitation skills, this book can make working with others a fun and enlightening experience.

    For my extended review click here.

  2. Perhaps, like me, you’ve spent torturous hours in meetings feeling like you’d rather have a tooth pulled than endure more waffle. I couldn’t count the times I’ve watched people drift off to a dream world while the same dominant voices repeatedly fill the airspace.

    Meetings, planning workshops, therapy sessions – however we come together to sort things out, the path is strewn with potholes and roadblocks. Whether we gather as work teams, community groups or boards of management, the challenges are remarkably similar: unspoken group dynamics, poor processes, fear of conflict and inadequate preparation.

    Part of the problem is that the concept of collaboration is often sidelined in the competitive world in which we live. Think government and opposition. Prosecution and defence. Even the act of voting – for and against – produces winners and losers.

    A strong belief in the power of collaborative decision-making is one of the pillars of this guide to group work by Glen Ochre, one of Australia’s foremost facilitators. The process of seeking consensus to arrive at decisions that everyone can live with is in her view worth striving for because “the means we use to get there must match the world we want”.

    Echoes of the women’s movement and the peace movement can be felt here – Glen has been active in both. Other influences include Quakerism and its offshoot, the Movement for a New Society, pioneers of non-violence and collaboration.

    Underscoring these theoretical perspectives is Glen’s breadth of experience – as a social worker and organisational consultant, as well as an activist. She shows how the confidence that develops in a group that is able to hear and respond to all points of view, including those of the least powerful, builds a culture of safety and trust that buoys us to sail through stormy waters.

    When this “groupness”, as Glen calls it, is established magic happens. As in any complex organism, the whole is somehow greater than the sum of the parts. The inspiration for Glen’s groupwork model is the natural world, where harmony is achieved in the web of interactions between all living things. In the same way, when people come together with good intentions these healthy interactions achieve a balance that nourishes the wisdom inherent in the group, guiding it to make good decisions that benefit everyone.

    The second great pillar supporting her work – driven by the theory of group psychology as well as years of practice – is her conviction that we can’t help sort out everyone else’s stuff until we’ve dealt with our own. This is hardly a revolutionary concept, but an astoundingly powerful one for those who’ve taken the plunge and explored this aspect of self-awareness.

    Glen has developed her own model to aid self-awareness called the Community of Selves. Building on the work of Carl Jung and Erving Polster among others, the Community of Selves concept invites us to examine the various voices or Selves that drive our thoughts and actions.

    My own community, identified when I was a student in Glen’s course on facilitation, includes some prominent Selves like the Taskmaster, who has an urgent need to get on top of the business at hand. Then there’s the Anxious One, who frets over detail or possible consequences. A host of other players pop up with advice or warnings from time to time. The trick is not to ignore or judge these voices, but to acknowledge their contribution and return to the one Self who should always be in control – the Wise One.

    This is not the place to explore the intricacies of the model, but suffice to say it’s been an invaluable tool I’ve relied on many times in groups and in life where one of my triggers has been set off.

    The third great pillar that leaps out of the pages of this book is the simplest of them all – compassion. How easy it is to overlook that the love that guides our most important interactions, our friendships and our personal and family relationships, is an essential component of working together successfully.

    Whether it’s listening with our hearts, acknowledging a contrary view, or standing by someone who is troubled or feels under attack, it’s our compassion that allows us to reach others and let them be heard. When we approach people from our hearts we build a pool of goodwill that we can always draw from.

    There’s a lot packed in to this remarkable guide that bursts with practical advice, troubleshooting checklists, witticisms and pithy observations drawn from a lifetime of experience. The landscape format makes this a workbook you can throw open on a desk and the quirky illustrations by Looolooo bring the text alive with subtle humour.

    It’s also a timely contribution to the essential art of working in groups big and small. As we wrestle with increasingly complex problems, including the compounding effects of climate change, the time to strive for better collaboration is overdue.

    This review is published on my blog. Jim Buckell is a graduate of the Groupwork Institute’s Advanced Diploma of Group Facilitation. He proofread the manuscript of Getting Our Act Together.

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