In these turbulent times The Grove, like everyone else, is heading into rising levels of uncertainty. We know that uncertainty is also a challenge for all of our clients as well as the visual practitioners and change leaders we support. It feels like a perfect storm *, and we’re preparing for the big waves.
Navigating Waves of Change
When change comes quickly from external forces that you can’t control, there are some imperatives. It is vital to support your people aligning on core values and competencies—the hull of your organizational ship. It’s also important to take down some of the tall sails, batten down the hatches and be more conservative.
On the other hand, you need to be moving decisively in the right direction, with full-force energy powering your motivation engine so you are pointed straight into the waves of change and are not in danger of being broadsided. You also need an internal compass that orients you to your deeper purposes for reaching the other side of the waves.
This is How The Grove is Responding
The GLEN. We are preparing to launch the Global Learning & Exchange Network (the GLEN). Its purpose is to evolve the methods of collaboration to address the big challenges of our times. What timing! Our founder, David Sibbet, and Gisela Wendling, vice-president of global learning, are co-directing this effort. The GLEN is organized around core values of collaboration and mutual respect. We intend to support sorely needed action-learning projects and accelerated professional development. We are now fast-tracking this initiative and are seeking founding members. An interactive website will launch this spring. Look for announcements about the GLEN soon.
Integrating Services to Support Client Change. We know that the greater the uncertainty, the more people need to communicate. We’re upping our game in this regard by integrating several of our methodologies to support organizations that are facing change. We are continuing to share and evolve our customizable visual tools and facilitation methods with clients and partners around the world, integrating our Team Performance and Strategic Visioning practices under the leadership of our co-presidents Laurie Durnell and Bobby Pardini. Rachel Smith’s groundbreaking work in virtual collaboration—with new trainings, best practices and a forthcoming book—is helping organizations work more effectively and enjoyably with distributed clients and team members.
Also, Gisela Wendling’s in-depth understanding of human-systems change, and of dialogic organization development in general, is helping us deepen our understanding of the people dynamics and consulting processes required to lead organization change. She asks, “What constitutes real engagement over time? How do we pace the momentum of change? How do we sustain communication and focus during implementation? What’s the role of generative images and Storymaps in change? How do visuals work when creating new narratives? Why is connecting to purpose and personal vision so important during uncertain times?”
Visual Consulting: Designing & Leading Change. The Grove is also taking its successful Visual Leadership book series with Wiley & Sons and pushing out to define what visual-change consulting looks like as an integrated approach. There will be a new book by David Sibbet and Gisela Wendling addressing this downstream, building on our Designing & Leading Change Intensive. This work is driven by our sense that consultants need to know not only how to lead clients visually, virtually, and dialogically, but also how to keep themselves grounded and in touch with inner resourcefulness during the more challenging phases of a change process.
Opportunities within the Challenges
The Grove is one of the longest running organizational-development firms in the country, starting in 1977 (yes, it’s our 40th year!). We are still going strong because we change. In taking our own practices seriously, we head into these times with energy, hope, and an even deeper resolve to support our clients who are facing challenges and uncertainties.
We know that traditional planning needs to adapt during turbulent times. What if precious group time included sharing stories of past resilience during change? What if leaders consciously upgraded their mental models of how things work? What if they collaborated with customers and constituents to co-create new, shareable representations of these systems? What if consultants learned how to distinguish purpose and direction from quarterly goals, and how to fuel the engines of commitment by deepening crucial relationships internally and with partners?
The Grove is organizing to support our clients in all of these ways. We are heading right into the waves, so stay tuned.
* The image of the boat in a storm is from the movie The Perfect Storm (2000). The movie is an adaptation of the book (same title) by Sebastian Junger, published in 1997 by W.W. Norton & Company.