A Virtual Holiday Party Idea

Need an idea for the virtual office party? Do a virtual gift certificate exchange using a digital whiteboard like Mural. It’s a nice way to keep the holiday party vibe alive and support some smaller retailers at the same time. Below are some basic instructions for setting up the game. The idea is very similar to a white elephant gift exchange. Look up the basic rules for a white elephant if you are unfamiliar. When the party commences, the game “facilitator” will need to set up an order for the gift opening/stealing. Perhaps post names in the web conference “chat” in the order that folks arrive at the party. Then, let the gift opening and stealing begin, marking gifts that have been claimed with a sticky note. In case you are curious, The Grove allows a gift to be stolen twice, then it is locked! Happy Holidays!

A Call for Grove Calendar Artwork


Each January The Grove offers a free, downloadable calendar to our mailing list and social-media followers. For our 2021 calendar we are opening up the artwork creation to anyone in our community. We’re looking for graphic recordings, drawings, cartoons, paintings or collages. 

Original artwork should answer the question, “What does democracy mean to you?” 

Responses to this question may come easily or may be more complex. We look forward to a variety of perspectives, including those from our international community. We don’t want this to be about political parties or political candidates. We consider democracy to be a larger concept.

The Grove believes in democratic processes in our work and as such, our staff will democratically choose twelve entries to place in our calendar.


Submission guidelines

  • Artwork files should be no more than 5 MB. JPEG, PNG or PDF files are fine.
  • Email artwork to submissions@thegrove.com.
  • Deadline: Send in submissions any time before Dec. 11th, 2020.
  • Landscape format. Artwork will be placed in a layout with an image area of roughly 6.5” wide x 4” high. We encourage artwork that fits nicely in those dimensions.
  • Please include your name and where you live in the text of your submission email, so we can attribute your artwork.

We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Questions from the Field

Clients and colleagues are reaching out about the work challenges they are facing in this unprecedented time. The following represents some of the questions we are hearing and the approaches we are taking.

1) How do we help facilitators and meeting participants get comfortable with virtual meetings?

We’ve found that facilitators who were comfortable with large conference rooms, large sheets of white paper and colorful markers at their disposal, are having various reactions to the switch to virtual meetings. The range is from “I hate this” and “I’m bad at this” to “this is an interesting way to work” and “this might make our work flow more efficient.” The deciding factor we are seeing is one’s attitude.

If there is an attitude of curiosity toward technology and a recognition that practice makes anyone more comfortable with anything, then the reaction will be favorable. We recognize that an unfavorable attitude often comes from a fear of looking inexperienced and a general frustration with technology. 

To ease tensions around these feelings, we recommend that facilitators take the pressure off of themselves from the start of a meeting and state that everyone is learning new methods including themselves and to please hang in there if things don’t run as smoothly as they used to with in-person meetings. Setting ground rules also helps keep participant frustration to a minimum. Wording such as “keep an open mind about technology and its flaws, or “approach technology with curiosity” usually helps people roll with it a bit better. 

Getting people comfortable with being uncomfortable is no easy trick, but setting up this expectation from the outset of a virtual meeting can help folks be less judgmental of themselves and the technology limitations they will undoubtedly experience.

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Coro Staff Collaborate Virtually Across Centers


Coro has been a pioneer in experiential-leadership education since 1948. Well-known graduates, such as Senator Diane Feinstein and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, started their careers at Coro. As COVID-19 hit in March and shelter-in-place restrictions began, Coro centers across the country faced a challenge going virtual and asked The Grove for help. Coro needed to transform a high-engagement, face-to-face way of working to a virtual setting. They were also accustomed to working as independent centers in Northern California, Los Angeles, New York and Pittsburgh rather than as a whole.

The Grove introduced new virtual practices and helped facilitate a cross-center learning cohort by leveraging the group wisdom of Coro trainers. A workshop series emerged, following several rich design sessions with Coro leadership using Mural—an online visual collaboration tool—and other online applications.

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Teaming in the New Virtual World


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.

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