workshop

There's a place for us... Choosing a venue

There's a place for us... Choosing a venue

There are some venues which make my heart soar – and some which make it sink!  What can you find out about a venue ahead of time, which will help you pick a great place and enable you to design your event or workshop to suit its idiosyncrasies? Here’s a great five-point checklist.

'Greening' our practice as facilitators

'Greening' our practice as facilitators

The two worlds I straddle - sustainability and process - interweave in all sorts of ways. And one of those ways involves challenging myself, and other facilitators, about the sustainability of our own practice.  And although I've called this blog post 'greening' our practice, of course there are the social and ethical aspects of sustainability as well as the environmental ones to consider.

On the spot, in the room

On the spot, in the room

Any fool can design a workshop. What really tests you is having to redesign it part-way through.

You’ve done a great plan, and prepared your materials.  You know how you’d like the space laid out, and your workshop will take the group on a journey towards a convergent, satisfying conclusion.

And then it all goes horribly wrong.  Nasty surprises throw your plans into disarray.  You need to redesign and you need to do it NOW!

Final places remaining - book now! Still conversations for sustainability leaders

Just a week to go until the second ‘still’ conversation.  Here’s what some people thought of the first one

“Thank you, Penny, it was a really powerful event you created a wonderful opportunity to reflect, listen, think and learn.  A really enriching experience and I would encourage any of my network in the sustainability community to consider signing up for one or more of your other forthcoming 'still' conversations.  A very worthwhile investment for both senior managers or practitioner level.” Thomas Enright, former Head of CSR, Affinity Water
“Thank you for your generosity, kindness and skill in making such a trusting space possible.”  Kath Dalmeny, CEO, Sustain
“Penny has created a unique space to reflect and share experiences. The carefully facilitated session provided new insights and a real sense of shared purpose with the other attendees.”  Matt Loose, Director, SustainAbility

There’s just one space left for next Wednesday, 12th April.  To find out more and book that place, click here.  The third 'still' conversation in this season is about getting sustainability into your organisation's strategy, and will be on 10th May.

To be kept informed about future ‘still’ conversations, drop me a line at still@penny-walker.co.uk

Carousel in action

A description of carousel technique in action plus a free download on how to run one yourself.

Still...... a new season of workshops for spring

Images: David Caines

I'm very excited about this season of workshops that I'm piloting - still conversations. 

It's a vision I've had for a while, and it's begun to take shape over the last six months.

The groups will be small - a maximum of ten people in each conversation.  The atmosphere will be easeful, open, creative.  People will learn from each other and from the opportunity to think aloud with others who understand what it's like to grapple with sustainability - trying to move fast enough while bringing others with you; finding the authentic way to be truthful and motivating. 

To begin with, I'm offering three conversations on different topics and people can come to one, two or all three.  The themes are:

It's an experiment, so the price is deliberately low with discounts (for multiple bookings, self-funded people, people who took part in the survey earlier in the year, IEMA members).  So it's just £100 plus VAT for a single session (discount if you book more than one).  And I'll be looking for feedback on how to make them as useful as possible for people.

It's a chance to take time out and be still. Think aloud with other sustainability leaders. 

I've emailed and sent personal invitations to people via LinkedIn, and the feedback is that now, more than ever, those who don't already have these kind of supportive professional-yet-personal networks in place are keen to get involved.  The Personal Resilience theme is definitely striking a chord.  

 

Find out more and make a booking here.  

What do we need now, from sustainability leaders?

Belaying. Aimee Custis Photography,  flickr .

Belaying. Aimee Custis Photography, flickr.

When I got the news about the US Presidential election result, I went through a lot emotions that I'm still processing.

One that may have been shared by those of you who are looked to for leadership - in ways big or small - was uncertainty about what to say to people who are wanting guidance.

I had to think about this pretty quickly, as I'd been asked present on leadership in the closing session of a four-day workshop on sustainable business.

So what now?

What kind of leadership do we want, what kind of leaders do we need to be, when the going gets really tough?  For me, it boils down to resilience and responsibility.

Resilience

It will be tough. There will be defeats and failures.  People will try to stop the things we are working for.  For some of us the challenges will be unbearably hard.  For some of us they already are.  (I know I speak from a position of privilege as a white, well-educated, able-bodied, straight, comparatively wealthy person from a Christian cultural background - I don't know I'm born.)

Part of what defines stepping up to lead - wherever we find ourselves - is that we are resilient and find ways to continue the work, especially when it is tough.

This doesn't mean that we can't take time out - rest, recharge, recuperate, get some R&R - these things are part of keeping ourselves resilient.

As Rabbi Tarfon said:

It is not your responsibility to finish the work of perfecting the world, but you are not free to desist from it either.

Responsibility

Knowing isn't enough.  We need to take responsibility.  Find the intersection between what we think is needed and what we are able to do, and step into that space.  If you are there already, thank you.

If you are able to step up, thank you.

What if you're not sure, yet, what is in that intersection?  Then keep doing the good you were already doing, and when you are sure you can step up. You're unlikely to be doing harm in the meantime.

Collaborate and support

Not all of us need to be leaders all the time.  Being a great supporter is an essential job too.  The climber relies on the woman belaying, in the picture. If the work you are doing is to enable and empower others to lead, thank you.

The event

The workshop was part of the 2016 Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Value Chains, part of the suite of brilliant executive education on sustainability offered by the Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership.  Thanks team for asking me along!  The full slide set I used is here.

What kind of workshop? Some metaphors

I've been working with a small client team to design a workshop.  The client team see lots of weaknesses in the current set-up that the group is a part of.  As the fighter pilot said when surrounded by enemy planes, it is a target-rich environment.  So where do we begin? 

We discussed jumping in and asking the biggest, baddest questions about the group's role and existence.  We played around with focusing on process tasks like revisiting terms of reference.  We thought about starting with easy wins.

The someone suggested a garden metaphor: the group and its work is a garden and - so he thought - the implication is that we want to do something evolutionary not revolutionary.

Maybe.

It got me thinking about the different kinds of interventions you might make in a garden - which could be radical as well as incremental - and we used these metaphors to help us reach a clearer common view about what the workshop should be like.

Dreaming of warm sunny evenings

Especially at this time of year, when nothing much is growing and the days are moist and cold, many gardeners will be dreaming of long summer evenings with a glass of wine and artfully placed candles. Scents and seating and shade. We could use the workshop to dream about the desired future, building a rich shared vision that inspires us during the hard months ahead. 

Rip it up and start again

Not all interventions in gardens are evolutionary.  People sometimes decide to completely remodel their garden: hard landscaping, tree removal, new soil, the works.  So a workshop could work on new plans: where to put the pond, as it were.  And people could even move on to project planning: when to get the diggers in.

Weeding party

Or the workshop could be like a work party: lots of practical immediate stuff to get on with: weed the borders, turn the compost heap, sew the broad beans and repair the fence.

Using metaphors helped us decide

Tossing these options around helped us decide on the kind of workshop we wanted, before we agreed on the detailed draft aims.  We went for the weeding party. Trowels at the ready!

What metaphors have helped you, in designing and planning workshops? 

Location, location, location

Picture the scene: the room, which you haven't been able to check out before, has a low ceiling, tiny windows that somehow don't manage to let in much light, and is decorated in shades of brown and purple.  There are uplighters on the walls, which have large strategically placed paintings screwed to them.  And, of course, you have been told that under no circumstances can blu-tack be used on the rough-textured wallpaper.

What your facilitator will ask!

So you've decided that the meeting or workshop you have in mind needs an independent, professional facilitator.  You call them up and guess what? They start asking all these awkward questions.  What's that about?

Facilitators don't just turn up and facilitate

Facilitated meetings are increasingly popular, and many teams and project groups understand the benefits of having their workshop facilitated. More and more organisations are also wanting to have meaningful, productive conversations with stakeholders, perhaps even deciding things together and collaborating.  Facilitated workshops can be a great way of moving this kind of thing forward. But facilitators don't just turn up and facilitate. So what are the key things a facilitator will want to know, when they're trying to understand the system, before the big day itself?

Start with the ends

Your facilitator will always begin with the purpose or objectives - why is the meeting being held? What do you want to be different, after the meeting? This could be a difference in the information that people have (content), new agreements or decisions (process), or it could be that what is needed is a shift in the way people see each other (relationships) - or some of each of these things.

Context and history

Once the facilitator is confident that you are clear about the purpose (and this could take some time - the facilitator should persist!), then the facilitator will want to understand the context, and the people.

Context includes the internal context - what has you organisation done up to now, what other processes or history have led up to this workshop? It also includes the external context - what in the outside world is going to have an impact on the people in the room and the topic they are working on?

Who's coming?

Often, the one thing that has been fixed before the facilitator gets a look in is the people who have been invited. But are they the right people to achieve the objectives? Have some important oilers or spoilers, information holders or information needers been left out? And do they understand clearly what the objectives of the meeting are?

Getting the right people in the room (and making arrangements to involve people who need to take part, but can't actually be there on the day) is just part of it. What do the people need to know, in order to play an effective part in the meeting? And how far ahead does this information need to be circulated? Apart from passively receiving information, what information, views or suggestions can be gathered from participants before the meeting, to get people thinking in advance and save time for interaction and creative discussion on the day? What questions can be gathered (and answered) in advance?

What do the participants want out of the meeting? If this is very different to what the client or sponsor wants, then this gap of expectations needs to be positively managed.

When and where?

Apart from the invitation list, the other things which are usually fixed before the facilitator is brought in, and which they may challenge, with justification, are the date and the venue.

The date needs to be far enough away to ensure that participants get adequate notice, and the facilitator, client team and participants get adequate preparation time.

The venue needs to be suitable for the event - and for a facilitated meeting, traditional conference venues may not be. Inflexible room layout, a ban on blu-tack, rigid refreshment times - all of these make a venue hard to use, however handy it may be for the golf course.  There's more on venues here.

Workshop design

Sometimes, of course, the date, venue and participant list are unchangeable, whatever the facilitator would like, and have to be taken as fixed points to be designed around. So what about the overall meeting design? The facilitator will want to understand any 'inputs' to the meeting, and where they have come from. They'll want to talk about the kind of atmosphere which will be most helpful, and about any fixed points in the agenda (like a speech by the Chief Exec), and how these can be used most positively.

A design for the meeting will be produced, and circulated to key people (the client, maybe a selection of participants), and amended in light of their comments. But the facilitator will always want to retain some flexibility, to respond to what happens 'in the room'.

What next?

And after the meeting? The 'after' should be well planned too - what kind of report or record is needed, and will there be different reports for different groups of people? This will have an impact on the way the meeting is recorded as it goes along - e.g. on flip chart paper, on display for all to see and for people to correct at the time. If there are specific 'products' from the meeting (agreements, action points, priorities, principles or statements of some kind, options or proposals), what is going to happen to them next?

And how will the client, facilitator and participants give and receive feedback about how the process worked?

All these things will need to be thought about early on - clients should expect their facilitators to ask about them all - and to help them work out the answers!

Challenging conversations

So to sum up, the facilitator will potentially challenge the client team about:

• Objectives • Context • Participants • Space • On-the-day process • Follow-up process

Free download

If you'd like to download a version of this, click here.

What is it afraid of, what's it trying to hide?

I've not blogged in months - too busy and too tired. But lately I'm emerging from bonkers levels of work and have the time and energy to read the papers. Even the review sections!  This blog post is triggered by an interview with M John Harrison by Richard Lea in Saturday's Guardian. I like science fiction in a casual and (I'm afraid) ignorant way, including Margaret Attwood's speculative fiction set in eco-dystopias and Philip Pulman's theological atheist fantasy parallel universes. But I'm afraid I don't know M John Harrison's work.

What really struck me - and the reason I read the article - was the quote pulled out to headline it:

"A good rule of writing in any genre is: start with a form, then ask what it's afraid of."

In touch with fear

Some people are in touch with their anger, others with their guilt, a lucky few with their joy and exuberance.  I'm very aware of my fear - although I don't always spot what's causing it at the beginning.  (As a tangent: it may not be fear at all.  In the same edition, Oliver Burkeman writes about physical symptoms being (mis)labelled as particular emotions.)

So I'm wondering about my own practice, and if it might be liberating to consider the form - the genre- and the fear that Harrison claims can exist outside the individual practitioner and in the form itself.

As a trainer and facilitator, and as a consultant, what are the genres I work in?  And what are those genres afraid of? What are they trying to hide?

What's the genre?

First, define your terms.  This will get too dull if I try to examine too many.  So I'll stick to the designed, facilitated meeting.  This is my stock-in-trade.  The aims are untangled and combed through until they gleam with clarity, realism and honesty.  The meeting is made up of sessions lined up in the optimum sequence.  Attention is paid to ensuring a mix of modes (individual, pairs, small groups, whole group; spoken, written, thought, drawn; presented, discussed, explored, agreed and so on).  We consider in advance what kind of record is needed, and what needs to be recorded in the room to make sure this happens.  I could go on - at some length.

What is this form afraid of?

I think there are two principal fears.  It's afraid of wasting people's time and it's afraid of people hiding things which - when shared - are important for mutual understanding and progress.  These seem like right and proper things to want to avoid.

There may be some other fears, which are worth examining and asking - in Harrison's words - "what it's trying to hide".

What's it trying to hide?

The genre of the planned facilitated meetings may be trying to hide things about itself, or about the people involved in making it happen.   I'll return to this question in due course, but find myself stumped for the moment!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Occupy movement: the revolution will need marker pens

On my bike, between meetings last week, I was passing St Paul's Cathedral in London so I wandered through the Occupy London Stock Exchange 'tent city'.  Occupy LSX has divided opinion. At the meeting I was going to - a workshop of organisational development consultants, facilitators, coaches - some people made rather snide remarks about the likely impact of the first cold weather on the protesters, and about unoccupied tents.  There's a retort here about the infamous thermal imaging scoop.  Others were interested in and sympathetic to the dissatisfaction being expressed, but frustrated by the lack of a clear 'ask' or alternative from the occupiers.

Emergent, self-organising, asks and offers

What struck me, however, were the similarities between the occupy area itself, and some really good workshops I've experienced.  There was plenty of space given aside for 'bike rack', 'grafitti wall' and other open ways of displaying messages, observations or questions.  There was a timetable of sessions being offered in the Tent City University, and another board showing the times of consensus workshops and other process-related themes.

There was a 'wish list' board, where friendly passers-by could find out what the protesters need to help keep things going. Marker pens and other workshop-related paraphernalia are needed, as well as fire extinguishers and tinned sweetcorn.

I saw these as signs of an intentionally emergent phenomenon, with a different kind of economy running alongside the money economy.  Others have blogged about the kinds of processes honed and commonly in use at this kind of event or camp, in particular if you're interested there's loads on the Rhizome blog.

Don't ask the question if you don't already know the answer?

I recognise the frustration expressed by some of my OD colleagues about the lack of clearly-expressed alternatives.  This kind of conversation often occurs in groups that I facilitate: someone (often not in the room) has expressed a negative view about a policy, project or perspective.  The people in the room feel defensive and attack the grumbler: "I bet they couldn't do any better" or "what do they expect us to do?".  Some management styles and organisational cultures are fairly explicit that they don't want to hear about problems, only solutions.  (Browsing here gives some glimpses of the gift and the shadow side of this approach.)

But I see something different here: a bottom-up process where people who share broadly the same intent and perspective,  come together to explore and work out what they agree about, when looking at the problems with the current situation and the possible ways of making things better.  The are participatively framing a view of the system as it is now, and what alternatives exist. This takes time, of course.

They are also, as far as I can tell from the outside, intentionally using consensus-based processes rather than conventional, top-down, leader-led or expert-led processes to organise this.  Understandably frustrating for the news media which rely increasingly on short sound-bites and simple stories with two sides opposing each other.  And it could get very interesting when the dialogue opens up to include those who have quite different perspectives on "what's really going on here" (for example mainstream economists, bankers, city workers).

The other thing I notice about this expectation of a ready-made coherent answer, is how similar it is to some group behaviour and the interventions made by inexperienced facilitators and coaches.  When I am training facilitators, we look at when to intervene in a group's conversation, particularly when to use the intervention 'say what you see'.  (This makes it sound very mechanical - of course it's not really like that!)

The trainee facilitator is observed practising, and then there is feedback and a debriefing conversation.  Perhaps they chose not to intervene by telling the group what they observed.  Sometimes during this feedback and debrief, a trainee will say something like "Yes, I noticed that, but I didn't want to say anything because I wasn't sure what to do about it or what it meant."  They are assuming that you can only 'say what you see' if you know what it means and already have a suggestion about what to do about it.

But it also serves a group to say what you see, when you haven't a settled interpretation or clear proposal.  (In fact, it is more powerful to allow the group to interpret, explain and propose together.) All questions are legitimate, especially those to which we don't (yet) know the answer.  Ask them.  Guess some answers.  And this - for the time being - is what the occupy movement is doing.

The revolution will need marker pens

All this consensus-based work and open-space style process needs plenty of marker pens (permanent and white-board).  So if you have a bulging facilitation toolkit and you're passing St Paul's, you know what to do!

Update

Others have spotted these connections too. Listen to Peggy Holman talking about Occupy Wall Street on WGRNRadio, 9th January.

Finding the house keys

I facilitated a workshop once, where everyone knew that they wanted to work together on something, but they didn't know what. They were all lawyers of one kind or another: barristers in private practice, in-house legal eagles for NGOs, members of the judiciary.  They shared an interest in human rights and climate change.  They shared a suspiscion that existing human rights legislation (including conventions) and existing courts which hear human rights cases (including some international ones) might be a good way to take forward cases which would catalyse action to reduce emissions and ensure victims of the impact of climate change get proper help.

During the workshop they shared information and stories, hoping that they would find one exciting thing to work on which had real potential. They discussed the detail of different legal approaches, what a perfect case would need to look like, the pros and cons of bringing cases in different jurisdictions.

As the workshop went on through its first day and towards lunch on the second day, they still hadn't found it.

And then suddenly they had!

How did that happen?

What did they do to find the focus? What did I do to help?

I don't know.  Nothing different than we had been doing for a day and a half.

Bingo!

It was like that moment when you find the house keys.  We had been looking and looking in all the right places and all the right ways.  It wasn't that we started looking better just before we found them.  It's just that we finally found them.

(It's funny how they're always in the last place you look.)

Environmental professionals - getting the savvy of the change-maker

Back in March 2011, I enjoyed working with the IEMA to facilitate a workshop for environmental professionals, ably supported by Debbie Warrener. The workshop was organised to give some of the UK's most long-serving and successful internal environmental specialists a chance to share experiences of leadership around sustainable business practice, and collaboratively sketch out the skills environmental professionals need if they are to shift their organisations strategically towards sustainability. There were no presentations - it was a collaborative venture where everyone in the room had wisdom and expertise to contribute.

During the workshop they created a mind map of key skills. This was done very rapidly, following several rounds of discussing challenges successfully met and skills used in doing so.

I came across my notes of this mind map in the nether reaches of my filing pile just now, and it struck me as one of those things which you could work away at for a long time and not improve much.

So here it is.

I was really pleased to see how much was to do with interpersonal skills, influence, collaboration and mainstream management and leadership skills.  We have heaps of fantastically technically expert environmentalists working in organisations. Too often they are marginalised and lacking in power or influence. They can find themselves shaking their heads sadly at the decisions made by the people with power, who don't see the unsustainability of their actions or can't see how to change.  Combining technical excellence with the savvy of the change-maker is essential.

IEMA's current framework

IEMA have since developed a skills framework at a number of levels which draws on this work, and other research and engagement they have done with their members.  You can see it here and read more about how people are reacting to it here.

And there's another framework mentioned in this earlier blog post and the article it links to.

Update

In November 2011, IEMA's magazine published this, looking at the skills and aptitudes needed by some very senior sustainability people in UK businesses, and includes personal stories from a number.

Multi-stakeholder collaboration - some headline sources

This blog entry is written for a very specific reason: I've just advised a group of people to look at my blog for initial sources on multi-stakeholder collaboration... but reviewing the blog I realise that it'll be quite hard to find the things I mean, and some of them I haven't even written about yet! So, especially for them - and for you, dear other readers - here's a quick brain dump of key sources and ideas which I think form a good set of starting points, mostly from my own experience.  Which means that if you have other great resources to tell people about, please do post them in the comments box.

Examples

There are some really interesting examples from the UK of the Environment Agency spending quite a lot of time and resources thoughtfully engaging in conversations with communities and other stakeholders when considering flood defences and coastal erosion risk.  For example, Shaldon and Medmerry [transparency alert - I worked on the Medmerry project] where engagement with stakeholders was carefully planned so that people could influence the decisions which the project team was making as the plans developed. Both schemes are ongoing.  See for example this report from the UK's Sustainable Development Commission which includes Shaldon as an example, and this short case study from the Environment Agency on Shaldon.  A search using 'environment agency', shaldon, stakeholder and 'liaison group' will bring up other interesting views on the engagement approach and its success.There's a bit more about the EA's ground-breaking work in this area in this article on DAD/EDD.

Another place-specific collaborative approach is described in this article "Human Systems Intervention And The Natural Step" by Jenny Sardone & Magdalena Szpala, first published in AMED's Organisations and People journal. I believe that it's not available electronically, but I'm trying to chase down an e-version so I can link to it.

Much better known are the FSC and the MSC - now well-established multi-stakeholder organisations which tried to 'get the whole system in the room' to work out credible consensus-based criteria for what might be considered sustainable management of forest and marine resources.  They have had varying degrees of success over the years in getting buy-in from all the different interests (environmental, social, economic). I wrote about the MSC a few years ago, an article called plenty more fish in the sea.   Current examples include WWF-UK's Tasting the Future, Forum for the Future's work on tourism, and CPSL's work on both climate and insurance. Some of these have crystalised into organisations, others are more fluid than that: fellow travellers collaborating with intention.

Theories, techniques and patterns

Fascinating to ponder on what the circumstances are which bring about authentic whole-system engagement, and what you have to do to get the right people in the room in the first place, and then to keep up the momentum. The best resource I know of at the moment on this is Peggy Holman's Engaging Emergence.  But I'm sure there are lots of others: please help me collect them by posting your favourites in the comments box.

Favourite techniques which can help include World Cafe, Open Space Technology and Future Search. I've blogged about the first big Tasting the Future meeting here, which combined a number of techniques.

SDC resources on collaboration, dialogue, engagement

Since its demise, it's really hard to find the engagement resources on the SDC's website. So here are some direct links to some of them:

  • SDC's response to National Framework for Greater Citizen Engagement (2008)
  • Final report on the SDC's Supplier Obligation stakeholder and public engagement process "Household Energy from 2011", with a description of process and findings.  There are links to other documents about this process here. [Transparency alert - I worked on the Supplier Obligation project.]
  • An independent evaluation report about the SDC's Engagement in Tidal Power process, which brought together stakeholders and the public to think about criteria and issues in harnessing power from the tides.
  • The groundbreaking and really rather wonderful (for process geeks) guidance on designing engagement, published by the SDC but drawing on pioneering work done by InterAct Networks (Lindsey Colbourne, Lynn Wetenhall, Jeff Bishop, Richard Harris and others) and developed through practitioners at the Environment Agency among others. This work continues, for example through work Sciencewise-ERC has done with DECC.
  • Some specific gems from this guidance include 'engagement and the policy making cycle' and a 'typology of engagement' and some definitions of different kinds of engagement. [More transparency - I work regularly with Sciencewise-ERC and as of 2011 am a Director of InterAct Networks]

Add your wisdom

This has been a very rapid post, and most of the examples and ideas are those which I'm personally familiar with. There must be lots of others, including some great compilation resources. Please use the comments space to link to your favourites and to critique what I've posted here.

 

Make more progress in changing your organisation!

There's a typical pattern for sustainability change agents: enthusiastic spotting of an opportunity to change (a solution) followed by a flurry of activity and then the obstables begin to show themselves. Then it can go two ways:

  • reflecting on the 'stuckness', exploring it and finding a way beyond it,

  • giving up.

Actually, you need to see the obstacles clearly to be able to deal with them, but that doesn't stop people feeling downhearted if they'd set out imagining no obstacles at all!

Theories for the perplexed

I find it reassuring when a bit of theory (or framework, model, checklist) explains that the low points are predictable, expected and indeed part of the journey.

And theories can also help us make sense of a complex reality, find the patterns in chaos, see "what's really going on here" and understand our unconscious assumptions.  If we bring them to conscious attention, we can make choices about doing things differently. Our assumptions might be about organisations (what they are, how they work, what's amenable to change), or people (how to interact respectfully whilst intending things to change) or sustainability (what might the journey look like, how you know you're going in the right direction).

And like the man said, there's nothing so practical as a good theory. (The man in question being Kurt Lewin, social psychologist, of the unfreeze-change-refreeze model.)

So I've assembled some bits of theory which I find particularly useful and popped them in a slide show here:

Organisational change theory 2011 generic

 

View more presentations from PennyWalker

There should be some notes pages with more explanation and references, but I haven't managed to get Slide Share to show these yet. So here's a pdf with the notes.  This is a presentation I give at the fabulous Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Business course, developed and run by CPSL and Forum for the Future.

Ideas into action

So theories are all very well, but what might it mean for your situation? I love to help people work out what their next steps might be, and a good way of doing this has proved to be the one-day Change Management for Sustainable Development workshop I developed and run with the IEMA.

We've got one in London on May 25th. So why not come along and we can help each other use some practical theories to make more progress? You can book here.

On Q – a great icebreaker

At the start of a six-month course, which mixes face-to-face workshops with remote group work, we wanted to get people networking and breaking ice fast - within and between their 'project groups'. I'd come across On Q before, because the AMED Council has been using it to get to know each other better in on-line conversations.  I ordered a set.  It comes in a reused video box, very neat!

Going through the cards, I looked out for ones which would be suitable for an international audience, were revealing without being threatening, and would make sense for a group of people who hadn't met before.  Nearly every card contained a question which met my criteria.

I used the On Q questions to produce larger (A5) cards for the participants, each with a different question taken directly or slightly adapted from an On Q question.  Each card also had instructions:

  • During the break, your task is to find three members of your project group (this can include your tutor) and ask them your question.  Listen to the answer.
  • For a bonus task, find three people who aren't in your group, and ask them your question, and listen to their answer.
  • Enjoy!

There was no debrief or feedback - the experience of asking the question and hearing people's answers was enough.

I wasn't sure if people would react positively to having their networking structured in this way.  I needn't have worried - the buzz in the room was immediate and people carried on asking their questions in other situations during the 24 hour workshop.

Favourites of mine included:

  • What did you used to be afraid of, that you're not afraid of any more?  (Me: the dark)
  • What do other people say about you, that you don't agree with? (Me: that I'm scarey)
  • What flock, herd or group of animals would you join? (Me: a wolf pack.  Perhaps that's what people see as scarey!)

Thoroughly recommended!