Teaming in virtual space is challenging all of us, but recent Grove experience with teaching our Team Performance System online has left us excited and optimistic that real jumps in learning can happen in this format. In a recent certification workshop conducted for a client, participants expressed their sense of improvement in relationship building and team productivity through the use of high-engagement online activities.
Our certification workshop focuses on some key takeaways. We want people to 1) become fluent with the Drexler/Sibbet Team Performance Model® (Model) and the predictable challenges of teaming; 2) learn the Team Performance Survey and its graphic report for team self-assessment; 3) identify best practices for improvement; and 4) experience teaming and relationship building throughout. The virtual version adds 5) directly experiencing successful virtual work.
The El Dorado County Office of Education (EDCOE) reached out to The Grove early this year to assist it in some long-overdue strategic and prioritizing conversations. A plan was in place to conduct a two-day strategic-visioning offsite when the COVID-19 pandemic erupted, effectively stymieing the notion of an in-person process. The leaders at EDCOE chose to push forward and move the process online, and Laurie Durnell, principal consultant, along with Kayla Kirsch, Grove associate, led the organization through an impactful virtual process.
Following is an interview with Laurie about the experience of doing this work online: its challenges and successes.
Q: Did EDCOE come to you with specific outcomes for the session?
A: During a scoping call the county superintendent admitted that the need for strategic planning had been a priority for two years. There was never a good time, and despite COVID-19 implications for an office of education, the time really was now to think ahead for the next five years. Significant changes legislatively around local control of budgets, along with looming budget cuts, increased the importance of having these alignment conversations sooner rather than later.
In the pre-work we asked them what the key strategic questions were that they needed to answer through this process, and almost every single group replied, “What is at our core?” or, “What is the organization-wide direction?” “How do we develop a unified vision with diverse responsibilities?”
Q: What was the biggest challenge in taking the process from what has traditionally been an in-person session into online?
Are you needing to shift your face-to-face meetings to virtual meetings? For more than ten years we’ve been adapting our visual-facilitation techniques to address our clients’ growing need to convene people in the virtual realm. Virtual meetings have come a long way. What used to be awkward, technically challenged interactions have become humanized, technically stabilized, effective gatherings. And yes, The Grove’s virtual meetings are highly visual, making them so much more engaging than talking heads on computer screens.
So, What Do Successful Virtual Visual Meetings Look Like?
Take a peek at a few of our tried-and-true practices that we’ve adapted for virtual meetings.
Setting the Stage for a Great Meeting
We work with clients to design a session that will fulfill the unique objectives of any meeting. With a plan prepped and in place, we orient participants with the Outcomes, Agenda, Roles, and Rules on a shared screen. The above chart is an example from a meeting that spanned two days, with two-hour sessions each. We’ve found it wise to convene shorter gatherings over multiple days, rather than day-long sessions that can prove more taxing than productive in a virtual setting. [For more tips about preparation see our Grove Best Practice: Virtual Meeting Planning.]
Several years ago, select directors of organizational development within the Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) attended The Grove’s Strategic Visioning workshop. These directors work for the national BGCA and support the independently operated local and regional clubs with organizational development and tools. This team interfaces with club boards and staff around national goal-setting and planning, among other things. After experimenting with the Strategic Visioning (SV) process and tools, these directors decided that the methodology could provide an accessible, trainable approach that could work in the wide variety of clubs across the U.S. It would also provide the consistency in strategic planning that the organization needed.
Last year, BGCA engaged The Grove in a train-the-trainer program with the objective of rolling out SV nationwide. The vision for the program is two fold—on the one hand, to enhance strategic thinking between board and staff at the local/regional level, and, on the other hand, strengthen the national strategic thinking with on-the-ground knowledge coming from the clubs. Thus, the strategic direction of the national and local clubs will be more co-informed and collaborative.
Happy New Year to all! Please enjoy our annual calendar.
This year, our calendar illustrates one of the most basic and effective facilitative practices—the sticky-note brainstorm. We designated one wall in our office to the activity throughout the month of December. Armed with a spectrum of sticky-note colors, staff members were asked to supply images and words that they associated with each month of the year. Like any successful brainstorm, we came up with similar and disparate ideas and, most importantly, ideas that built on one another. These visual poems evolved through the final weeks of 2019. One word on a sticky note sums up this process: FUN.