Not long before I did my solo retreat in nature, I took part in a visioning exercise. The facilitator invited us to sit in our chairs, close our eyes and forget the rest of the group. He asked us to transport ourselves—alone in our chair—to a beautiful meadow, surrounded by mountains and forests, with a stream running through it.
As we heard the burbling stream and inhaled the crisp mountain air, he described a boundary on one side—a dry-stone wall with a country gate leading out of the meadow. When our scene was vivid enough, he asked us in our mind’s eye to rise from the chair and walk slowly but confidently through the gate. We were told we’d now crossed a threshold and were our future selves looking back on the person sitting in that chair. What did we see? What did we have to say to that person? What was our intent as we crossed the threshold?(more…)
It is paradoxical, but true, that even the most deeply systemic changes start because an individual wills such a change into being. This is not to say that the individual alone can make the change happen. Nor is it only the individual leader who has to go through a personal transformation.
Everyone on the team will need to undergo a mindset shift and find their own connection with the need for change and where the organisation is headed. What’s the story you will tell yourself?(more…)
My previous article, The U Journey: Stepping into Design, introduced a key part of the Design phase—the Learning Journey. This includes developing and testing hypotheses, soliciting innovative ideas from wherever they might arise, exploring the psychological and cultural frontiers of your people and organisation, and trying on new ways of working.
The principle purpose of the learning journeys is to create conditions that reduce the anxiety associated with change so the people charged with bringing the new into the world can have a safe space in which to practice the mantra ‘fail often to succeed sooner’. (more…)
The ‘Explore’ phase of the U Journey ends when you know where your vision is pointing and you start to consider what means will help you get there. A crucial first step of ‘Design’, the next phase, is the Learning Journey.
You’ve finished the Foundation Workshop and there’s a real sense of accomplishment. Order has been brought to the chaos of change. At a minimum, you have a vision of where you are heading, alignment towards your goal, a clear appreciation of where you are starting from and a program of work to get to your destination. The bonds between the members of the team are significantly stronger from taking deep dives into conversations that matter. You have a greater sense of the diversity of thought within the team and can see how those differences can be harnessed to synthesise something new which creates a whole that is more than the sum of the parts.
But change—deep, systemic change—is not the sort of thing which happens as a consequence of a single workshop, no matter how well prepared or executed.(more…)
This is Part Two of our series on the ‘Explore’ phase of The U Journey to guide an organisation through a transformation.
In Part One we looked at how to set up the Foundation Workshop for success. We considered its purpose, where it fits in the overall U Journey and some social processes required to have the kind of rich conversations which support powerful movement towards the desired future. Now we dive into the activities themselves.
The Foundation Workshop works best when run over two nights and three days. Starting immediately after lunch on day one, the first order of business is to get everyone deeply present in the room. (more…)
How do you mobilise a leadership team around a new way of thinking that will take the organisation to its goal? The process is the U Journey and the springboard is the Foundation Workshop. This article within a series on Theory U looks in more detail at what’s involved in the Explore phase. It all starts with the right preparation.
When you consider the future you would like to bring into being, what is the bedrock on which it rests? To use a construction metaphor, what kind of a building are you creating? How high can it go up, how long will it last and what will be the quality of experience for those building it and then living in it? A strong foundation is the basis of a confident step forward into the unknown frontier of the future you aspire to bring into being.(more…)