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…
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.
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.
Want to make your writing more legible when you are working on charts at work—or any other time when having readable handwriting smooths the way? Watch this short tutorial with Grove consultant Malgosia Kostecka:
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. read more…