Allan Drexler: In Appreciation

I was saddened to hear that my friend and colleague Allan Drexler passed away recently. He was 88. In the 1980s, he and I co-developed the Drexler/Sibbet Team Performance Model® (Model) and the facilitative methods and tools connected with it. Without Allan we would not have this model. The depth of his field experience with teams, coupled with his deep understanding of group dynamics developed in sensitivity training at National Training Labs, kept the work grounded in the real world of working teams.

How the Work Began

I first met Allan in 1982, when I gave a workshop about facilitation that included Arthur M. Young’s Theory of Process. Allan shared a team-building model he had developed with Jack Gibb, an influential social-science researcher, and Marv Weisbord, a thought leader in organizational development. It laid out predictable questions people ask when joining a group: Why are we here? Who are you? What are we doing? How will we work together?

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Managing Team Integrations


Increasingly teams are being mashed together: different specialties or functions, or different parts of organizations being merged as a result of leadership experimenting with cost-cutting or efficiency initiatives. This new landscape of teaming benefits from focused approaches to syncing up these newly formed teams. The goal is to integrate their efforts smoothly and achieve the organizational benefits they were reconfigured to achieve.

For example: in multiple organizations we have worked with recently, functional teams previously based in the divisions were centralized in corporate headquarters. Then a magic wand was waved and bingo, a new team was born. Extra responsibilities were added to already full workloads. Team members looked around at each other and said, “Okay, we’re a team. Who the heck are you?”

“We Used to Do It That Way”

When different functions are linked that may not have worked together previously, the newly integrated team needs—in a time-efficient manner—to get acquainted with one another and make agreements about the work to be done, who is going to do it, and how it will be accomplished. The risk is that people will revert to old patterns and relationships as a survival tactic in the face of uncertainty and lack of clarity.

“We used to do it that way” is a fallback approach that reflects more than resistance to change. read more…

Let Grownups Be Grownups in Remote Meetings

In The Grove’s recent Facilitating Virtual Collaboration workshop, the topic came up about how facilitators can engage participants in a remote meeting so that they don’t check email, tune out, stop listening, and fail to … well… participate. My unusual and occasionally unpopular advice: it’s not entirely your problem.

Let me clarify. As a facilitator, and especially as a facilitator of remote meetings, it’s my job to create a space in which people can do their best work. It’s my job to work with the group or the meeting sponsor to clarify the work’s outcomes. It’s my job to design a process that will lead to those outcomes, and it’s my job to select tools that will support each process in which I want the group to engage.

It’s not my job to entertain people. I’m actually quite bad at that, and nobody would pay me to do it. Looking at my actual job, here are my responsibilities: read more…

Global Collaboration: The Grove Partners Program

Collaboration, networking, relationship. These ideas resonate with many in The Grove’s network, from clients and associates to consultancies in places all around the world that wish to foster creativity and collaboration in their businesses. With this last group, the consultancies, we have formalized a pathway to partner with The Grove.

Who We Partner With

The Grove Partners Program is for small-to-mid-size consulting firms collaborating with The Grove on client work, licensing Grove methods for internal use, or translating and distributing Grove products. Typically these firms offer a blend of services in the organizational consulting space, with mutual interest in visual strategy, teaming and leadership development, or change consulting.

The Partners Program formalizes our longtime ad-hoc partnering from the many years that we have worked internationally. Seeds of visual facilitation and collaborative practices have been sown worldwide through Grove consulting and trainings. David Sibbet’s Visual Leadership book series, published by John Wiley & Sons and translated widely, has further expanded the global network of visual practitioners and raised the profile of this way of working.
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The Virtual Experience is a Human Experience: Interview with Rachel Smith

Rachel Smith, The Grove’s director of digital facilitation services, is finishing a book about facilitating remote collaborative work. We chatted with her—virtually, of course—about the key themes she’s working with and what she’s learned along the way.

Grove: Your book is about how to be more facilitative in virtual settings, whether your role is as a facilitator, a team leader, or a team member. Why did you decide to write about this?

Rachel Smith: Because the virtual experience is a human experience, and ultimately humans are what will make it or break it. People tend to think virtual work is all about the tools, but it isn’t. It’s all about human interactions and relationships, and how to work effectively with people when you can’t be in the same room together. Skilled facilitation makes virtual work better, shorter, more engaging and more effective.

Grove: Why is a company like The Grove that specializes in highly engaging face-to-face meetings interested in virtual work?

RS: Let’s face it—a lot of virtual meetings are pretty painful. We know how to make these meetings engaging and productive. Most of our clients have teams or work groups that are not co-located, so incorporating more virtual facilitation into the mix is a natural next step for The Grove.

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