Exploring Metaphors of Change Management

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.


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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.
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Envisioning a Geography of Hope

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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?

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Introducing Gisela Wendling, Ph.D., The Grove’s New Director of Global Learning

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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.
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20 Tips for Facilitating Virtual and Blended Meetings

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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.
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Optimizing Collaborative Bandwidth in Virtual Meetings

The following article is excerpted from “Collaborative Bandwidth: Creating Better Virtual Meetings” by Rachel Smith, part of the Organization Development Journal’s Winter 2014 special issue on “OD in the Digital Age.”

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Rachel Smith doing virtual graphic recording of a remote meeting

Remote participants often find that virtual meetings are not an enjoyable or effective way to accomplish many of their intended objectives. There is some quality of a face-to-face meeting that is lost during a virtual meeting—it becomes more difficult to do collaborative and creative work. People are less efficient, productive, and creative, and retention is adversely affected.

We propose that this missing quality is collaborative bandwidth, which relates to the number and capacity of available communication channels.
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