We have heard from many of our clients about the frustrations they experience when working with people who are not co-located. In response, we are developing new resources for working virtually—especially for managers, team leaders, and facilitators who need to help groups complete complex collaborative projects at a distance.
As a central part of this offering, Rachel Smith, The Grove’s director of digital facilitation services, is preparing to write a book on virtual collaboration. It will include interviews with master facilitators who are working with distributed teams, using best practices and tools that you can apply in your own virtual work environments. Supported by digital resources, the book will be full of ideas about how to bridge the gap and make collaborators feel that they are working together in the same physical space, even when they are not.
You don’t have to wait until the book is released, though!
At the 2015 Association of Change Management Professionals conference, The Grove’s Gisela Wendling and David Sibbet led more than 800 participants in an hour-long general session exploring how to use metaphors to communicate about change management. David’s reflections on the experience follow.
Metaphors provided the doorway into an exciting community conversation at the recent conference of the Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP). The organization challenged Gisela Wendling and me to lead a provocative and interactive hour-long general session, aimed at finding a clearer way that participants could respond to the question, “What is change management?”
Setting Up the Dialogue
Designing a session for 800 people was a challenge—metaphors provided the solution. Our strategy was to facilitate three simple conversations that were supported by a standard Grove tabletop template, customized for exploring change-management themes.
At the 2015 Geography of Hope: Women and the Land conference, The Grove’s Laurie Durnell and Associate Kathy Evans drew from an unusual mix of visual facilitation methodologies to listen, engage, and reflect participants’ thoughts. A final summary image was the fruit of a rich collaboration among the participants, poets, artists, and visual facilitators.
This conference takes its name from Wallace Stegner’s famous “Wilderness Letter” to Congress in support of the 1964 Wilderness Act. In it he described wild landscapes as part of our “geography of hope.”
Now, as humanity navigates an unknown terrain with potentially fearful hazards, where do we look for hope?
Two Core Questions
First, Laurie and Kathy created a large graphic for the plenary session of the conference that was designed to hold sticky notes containing participants’ contributions. Like a braided river, the template symbolized a weaving of participants’ answers to these two key questions:
• What do you love too much to lose? and
• What will you do to protect it?
Gisela Wendling, Ph.D., joined The Grove in June 2014 as a new senior consultant and Director of Global Learning. She brings to The Grove a fine-tuned mindset and deep experience in organization change.
Gisela describes transformative change as a process occurring over time, with distinct phases and a momentum that, if guided well, can overcome obstacles and resistance.
New Grove Intensive: “Designing and Leading Change”
At The Grove we are finding a growing need for organization and culture change work. Getting long-term results involves dedicated effort over time and significant shifts in values, focus and ways of working.
As humans we naturally function better when we are face-to-face and can draw on the full range of our sensory capacities. When we meet with others in virtual settings, we can’t easily access the visual information and body-language cues that inform group communication.
Still, working virtually is with us to stay. So here are some guidelines for facilitating your next meeting with people who are in different locations. These best practices will help you lay the groundwork for a successful and enjoyable experience for your team or work group.