Building a Better Team Metaphor



We’ve all heard of the term “team building”—based on the industrial-age metaphor that people are like construction blocks. You might not even think of this as being a metaphor, but it implies you start with nothing and somehow, after a group process, teams are “built” and everything works.

When Allan Drexler and I set out to create a comprehensive model for team development in the 1980s, we agreed that the building metaphor doesn’t capture how groups really work. Teams are more like athletes and artists than buildings, and are in a journey that fluctuates between freedom of aspirations and real-world constraints—seeking a resolution of the two in action. They pass through different stages of engagement and often go back and forth between these stages as the team coalesces. We decided to visualize the Drexler/Sibbet Team Performance Model® as a bouncing ball, with four stages to create the team and three to describe increasing levels of sustained performance. It starts with people “up in the air” imagining the purpose and bounces off the “ground” of current realities, regaining freedom of movement through mastery of the constraints.

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Showcase: Visual Practice Part 1

A few weeks ago, I invited visual practitioners to send me samples of their work. I requested images representing each practitioner’s individual creative style, and as you’ll see, the range is very extensive even in this comparatively small sampling of work. I also asked folks to tell me why they picked the particular image they did. Let’s take a little tour of some of the beautiful pieces that were so generously shared. The list is alphabetical by the last name of the practitioner. I’ll share more of the entries in another post.

If you’re interested in contacting any of these folks about potential work, please follow up with them on the website listed with their name.

Claire Bronson,




Claire chose this image because, in her words, “the content is near and dear to my heart.” Her chart records a talk by Kevin Hagen about sustainable business practices at REI, given for the Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future. I love the springtime colors she chose and the fun, funky lettering of the subtitles in this piece.

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The Principles of Graphic Facilitation: Facing the Blank Paper

I’ve been working at The Grove for almost a year and finally had the opportunity to take The Principles of Graphic Facilitation workshop from Senior Consultant Laurie Durnell in April, 2011. I signed up for three days: a two-day workshop that focuses on using graphics to lead group processes, and a one-day workshop that teaches agenda design, custom template design, facilitation and graphic-format selection. In this article I’ll be reflecting on my experience as a participant with virtually no background in graphic facilitation, as well as sharing some of the ideas presented in the workshop.

Day 1

I arrive at The Grove offices at exactly 8:25 a.m. and find I am the last one here. I take the one empty seat, settle into my chair and contemplate the bulging bag placed in front of me. Two blank sketchbooks, three textbooks on graphic facilitation and a small bound book called Pocket Pics. I get the idea we’re going to be covering a lot of ground in three days.

Most of The Grove’s workshops admit a maximum of ten people to make sure breakout groups are small and everyone gets one-on-one attention. This time there are exactly ten participants including me. They come from a variety of locations: Nova Scotia, Alaska, British Columbia, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Seattle; and backgrounds: education, ontological coaching, art therapy, academia and marketing.

Laurie introduces us to the OARRs (Outcomes, Agenda, Roles and Rules) Graphic Guide® template on the wall. This chart addresses participants’ expectations at the beginning of a meeting and makes sure everyone is in alignment. We all set to copying the format into our sketchbooks. I’m already loving this new way of taking notes. It feels quite natural and slightly subversive; like I’m not supposed to be drawing while someone is talking.

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Grove Facilitates U.S CIO Meeting Silicon Valley



David Sibbet recently graphically facilitated a meeting between Vivek Kundra, the first CIO of the United States appointed by President Obama, and a collection of Silicon Valley venture capitalists and technology innovators, including, Mozilla, and Facebook, at IDEO Labs to discuss how government can improve how it is delivering services to the American people.

Doug Solomen, an old colleague of David’s from Apple, now works at IDEO and invited David to participate. Vivek subsequently wrote about the visit and posted this graphic on the White House Blog in the technology area. Link to the official article is here.




Strategic Visioning Agenda Planning Kit Simplifies Strategic Planning Processes



An uncertain economy requires resetting your vision, assumptions, and plans. And tight budgets mean you’ll probably need the tools to do it yourself.

The Grove has developed the Strategic Visioning Agenda Planning Kit to help you apply our Strategic Visioning Visual Planning System™ (VPS) to your most pressing organizational planning challenges. It’s flexible and even fun, and based on more than 30 years’ experience guiding organizations large and small through periods of change and new business challenges. read more…