What does it take for people to align behind change? Six top tips & tools from #FacWeekchat

#FacWeekChat 2015This is the question that brought together 69 facilitation, communications and change management professionals over two one-hour twitter chats on October 23, during International Facilitation Week. In this post I’ll share six top tips and some of the tools that were shared in response.

The twitter chats were co-hosted by Michael Ambjorn of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), Faith Forster of the Change Management Institute (CMI) and myself for the International Association of Facilitators (IAF). Our aims were to bring people together to connect with and learn from each other on a topic of mutual interest, and also to make connections and foster broader collaboration between our associations and between our professions.

Participants were located as far afield as Canada, USA, Serbia, UK and India. Our experience of change included local and international work with large and small organisations in a variety of sectors and industries including health, education, IT, faith and international aid & development.

So what did we learn? What does it take for people to align behind change?

1. The context must be conducive. People align behind change “when external pressures have made the need for change evident”.  “The facilitator as midwife can only help a client that is already pregnant”!

2. High level vision and goals, and ideally values as well, must be clear and shared. Alignment happens when there is “a clear purpose… before a decision on what to do, a focus on energy & momentum for change”.

3. There must be inclusive and authentic participation. “Holistic participation in co-creating vision is the key to create buy in”.  “Co-design, co-creation, collaboration”. “Convene all with a stake in change”. “Everyone wants change, but no-one wants to be changed”.  Alignment does not happen “when when people forget that changes requires the involvement of others” or “when change is imposed from above without proper consultation or facilitation”.

4. Humility, patience and deep listening is required. “Be honest and transparent about the challenges that will be faced, otherwise when failure happens you lose people’s trust”. “Take time, constant process checks, take time, listen, take time, acknowledge resistance (did I mention take time?)”. “Come to terms with the antibodies in the system and talk candidly about them”. “The disruptive power of good listening skills”. “Pay as much attention to the intangibles amongst people as to what is explicitly being said”.

5. Be open to what needs to emerge, while remaining focused on the vision. “Start with possibilities rather than a project plan” and “be aware of groups emerging needs… [allow] the group synergy to flow”.  Alignment did not happen “when people didn’t respond to emerging needs, and when personal issues took precidence over common vison”.

6. Nevertheless, leadership must also be be clear, decisive and inspiring.  “Be a leader that makes tough decisions. The notion of change is disruptive, but strong leadership can mitigate people risk”. Make a “powerful invitation, expressed openly with integrity”. “Discussions about change are so often are negative, ie. about failure – we need to inspire people, enable them”.

What tools and techniques can help?

Favoured approaches to addressing the challenges of aligment and change included the Art of Hosting/Art of Participatory Leadership, Organisational Development, Quality Management, Coaching and Mediation, Graphic Facilitation (especially in multilingual contexts), the work of Perry Timms on ‘hacking adaptable organisations’ and of course ICA’s Technology of Participation (ToP).

Some of the particular tools referenced were Story Boarding and Lead with a Story, My Goals My Action Steps, Power/Interest Matrix, RASCI, Ladder of inference, CSITO’s Constellation Collaboration model and the ToP Focused Conversation method.

What can we learn from each other?

What can communications and change management professionals learn from facilitation? “If you want to bring people with you you have to involve others, and facilitation is a great way to do that”. Facilitation “can help transform communications ‘from cascade to conversation'” – “communicators can learn from facilitators about how to structure conversations once people are engaged”. “Change management can get caught up in project management processes – facilitation keeps the focus on what is important”. “At a simple level, facilitation can help managers learn to run more productive and enjoyable meetings”.

What can facilitators learn from communications and change management? How “to get people ‘in the room’ for facilitation, to engage all those who will never be ‘in the room’… and to communicate the results”.  Also “good use of data gathering tools”, “ways to measure/evaluate the outcomes of their facilitation work” and how to “draw out stories as they relate to the task at hand, and use these stories for sense making”.

We could all benefit from each other’s professional standards and competency models – IAF’s Facilitation Core Competencies, IABC’s communications Global Standard andCMI’s Change Management Foundation & Master Competencies.

For more of what we shared, including links to many of the examples and tools referred to, see the edited highlights on Storify or find all 707 tweets at #FacWeekchat on Twitter.

Please add your own thoughts in a comment below, or of course on Twitter with the hashtag #FacWeekchat!


For more on my work, and what others have to say about it, please see how I workwho I work with and recommendations & case studies – or view my profile and connect with me on LinkedIn.

You can connect with me also by joining my free facilitation webinars online, and IAF England & Wales’ free facilitation meetups in London and elsewhere.

Exploring the human factor in global change, and prospects for partnership, at Caux

This post was written for ICAI Winds and Waves, September 2015 issue.


Caux PalaceThe week before last I was in Switzerland to support the design and facilitation of Addressing Europe’s Unfinished Business, a conference of Initiatives of Change (IofC) at Caux Palace – a fairy-tale castle of an international conference centre, high above Montreux and enjoying stupendous views down along Lake Geneva.  As luck would have it, Jonathan Dudding of ICA:UK was there the same week supporting the parallel International Peacebuilders Forum conference, and world leaders of IofC International were beginning to gather for their IofC Global Assembly the following week. As a result, Jonathan and I were able to meet together with leaders of IofC Caux and IofC International to discuss prospects for a global partnership conference of ICA and IofC at Caux next year.

I came away (‘down from the mountain’, as they say with good reason at Caux) encouraged and enthused for the prospects of such a partnership – by my experience of the conference and the conference centre, and by what I learned of IofC and the commonalities and potential for synergies between it and ICA.  I am excited therefore that, since then, ICA International has decided in its online General Assembly in the last week to seek to develop such a partnership with IofC. So, how did such a proposal come about, and what can I say from my own experience at Caux about how I see the prospects for such a partnership?

ICA:UK and ICA Spain have partnered with IofC Caux over several years now to support the design and facilitation of their annual summer season of international conferences, and in providing ‘Technology of Participation’ (ToP) facilitation training for IofC members and others – next scheduled for 25-26 November in Geneva. Other connections and collaborations between individual members of ICA and IofC around the world date back over 30 years in some cases, in countries including Australia, Canada, India, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan and Ukraine. Ideas for building on these foundations to explore the potential for broader collaboration have been brewing for a year or two among those involved on both sides.

A partnership approach to a global conference in Caux in 2016 was proposed to ICAI last December by ICA:UK, with the support of ICA Spain and other European ICAs, to follow ICAI’s 8th quadrennial Global Conference on Human Development in Kathmandu in 2012.  This proposal was recommended to the ICAI General Assembly by its Global Conference working group, and approved in principle this last week. Parallel conversations have been underway within IofC, including at its recent Global Assembly in Caux, and we hope to be able establish a joint committee in the autumn to develop a partnership and our approach to the conference together.

I have found numerous encouraging parallels in our respective histories and approaches. Initiatives of Change describes itself as ‘a world-wide movement of people of diverse cultures and backgrounds, who are committed to the transformation of society through changes in human motives and behaviour, starting with their own’. It was founded in the late 1930s as the Moral Rearmament Movement by Frank Buchman, a charismatic American minister whose ideas and practices had been developed largely working with students in what had been known as the Oxford Group. The once-grand but then derelict Caux Palace Hotel was purchased and refurbished by Swiss supporters, in time to open in 1946 as an international conference centre where those who had suffered in the war could come together and build new relationships. Further centres were established in the USA and around the world, supporting reconciliation and peace-building through dialogue and, particularly at the Westminster Theatre in London, also through drama.  Today IofC international comprises member organisations in around 40 countries worldwide. IofC Caux hosts a series of international conferences over three months every summer, under the banner “Exploring the human factor in global change” and with the aim “to inspire, equip and connect people to address world needs, starting with themselves”.

ICA (the Institute of Cultural Affairs) was founded somewhat later, but also from a faith-based movement, as the secular successor organisation to the earlier Ecumenical Institute and University-based Faith and Life Community founded by the American former Methodist minister Joseph Wesley Mathews in the 1950s & 60s. ICA describes itself as a global community of non-profit organisations ‘advancing human development worldwide’ – sharing a ‘concern with the human factor in world development’ and seeking to mobilise and support individuals to transform themselves in order to transform their communities, organisations and societies (‘Changing Lives, Changing Societies‘). ICA pioneered its approach, including ‘imaginal education’ and what became known as the ‘Technology of Participation’ facilitation methods, in the west side of Chicago in the 1960s. ICA USA’s GreenRise building in Chicago was rescued from dereliction by volunteer labour and in-kind contributions in the early 1970s, to serve for many years as ICAs global headquarters and venue for its annual summer Global Research Assemblies, forerunners to the quadrennial ICA Global Conference on Human Development since 1984.  The ‘Band of 24’ pilot Human Development Projects in each of the 24 time zones worldwide, launched in 1976 (40 years ago next year), became the basis of today’s network of member organisations and groups in around 40 countries – about half of them countries in common with IofC.

My experience of the AEUB conference at Caux suggests that we have more in common than aspects of our histories, the language we use to describe our approaches, and our shared vision of a just and sustainable world for all.  Participants familiar with ICA’s centres in Chicago, Brussels and elsewhere, and with our tradition of living and working together in community, will welcome the expectation at Caux that everyone contributes to the care of the community and broadens and deepens their relationships by taking part in kitchen duties together. They will also welcome the time for collective reflection and for other spirit practice that is scheduled daily at Caux, as a reflection of ICA’s tradition and practice as well. They may be pleased to find that most bedrooms in the former Caux Palace Hotel have their own bathrooms (unlike many ICA facilities of the same era), and they will likely find the simple and even antique furnishings and fixtures as charming as I did. Certainly few visitors will fail to be impressed by the views from their windows and balconies, and from the garden and terrace below – the mountain location, accessed by funicular from the lakeside, was well chosen indeed for a retreat centre.

I hope that we may find plenty to learn from our differences, as well as our similarities. Whereas ICA’s focus is primarily on community and more recently organisational development, and through demonstration projects engaging the disempowered, I understand that IofC’s focus is primarily on reconciliation and peace-building, and through dialogue engaging citizens with those in power. I expect that IofC’s activities and emphases have diversified over time and geography as ICA’s have, however, and that our own people and our partners worldwide would find much to share with and learn from each other on their diverse experiences of leadership and change in their own contexts.

AEUB opening plenaryFrom a practical point of view, I think ICA could benefit greatly from Caux’s well established year-round capacity to manage the logistics of conference organisation, from handling international registrations and finances to mobilising and managing teams of summer interns and volunteer interpreters. I expect IofC could also benefit more from ICA’s participatory process design and facilitation expertise, as it has begun to do in recent years for its own conferences. The venue itself I found to be well equipped with a wide variety of spaces and facilities, from small break-out rooms and gallery spaces, terraces and gardens, to a tiered auditorium, a large and fully-equipped theatre and of course the Grand Hall. I understand that the capacity of around 400 in total allows comfortably for around 270 conference delegates at a time, in addition to the many resident volunteers, staff and other visitors.

This year’s AEUB conference seemed to me to be very well received by its impressively international, multi-lingual and multi-generational participants.  I look forward to being able to share in making the ‘magic of Caux’ again in future conferences – starting, I hope, with a 2016 partnership conference ‘exploring the human factor’ in global change and development.

For more on Initiatives of Change at Caux, find them on twitter, flickr and youtube.

Raising our ambition – a face-to-face meeting of the virtual ICAI Board

#ICAIBoard, May 2015 on Storify

Last week provided a rare and invaluable opportunity for the largely virtual Board of ICA International to meet face-to-face, in conjunction with the East & Southern Africa ICA regional gathering held near Arusha in Tanzania.  Click on the image above for the story of our meeting on Storify, featuring the real-time updates, photos and tweets that we shared during the week.

We travelled for up to 39 hours to be hosted in Tanzania, from Tokyo, Guatemala, Toronto, Chicago, London, Kiev and Lome. I am grateful to Charles Luoga of ICA Tanzania for hosting us and to Seva Gandhi of ICA USA for her logistical support, and to all involved for giving so generously of their time and energy, in spite of the long journeys.

We had last met face-to-face as a Board when three of us were about to begin our terms, in conjunction with the 8th ICAI Global Conference on Human Development in Kathmandu in late 2012. With the other five having just joined the Board from this year, and with some of us having never yet met each other in person, we felt it essential to make the effort to meet – notwithstanding the significant cost of time and money that would be required for what is a largely volunteer-driven network. I think that that investment will prove to be richly rewarded, and I hope our members will agree – I trust that they will be delighted that the meeting kept well within our tight budget as well!

Manyara National Park, TanzaniaWe met for four days, at a safari lodge near the Manyara National Park. On the fifth day we visited the park, and on the sixth we joined the first day of the regional gathering. That gathering continues to the end of this week, with four of us still present there.  We also were able to see something of the town of Mto Wa Mbu, and the nearby children’s home initiated and supported by ICA Tanzania.

Our aims for the meeting were to get to know each other, and to build team spirit and commitment; to broaden and deepen our shared understanding of ICA and ICAI; to agree strategy and plans for how we will work together as the ICAI Board for 2015-16; and to meet and learn about ICA Tanzania and the ICAs of the region. We also aimed to engage with the global ICA network remotely as we worked during the week, including by meeting virtually with our global communications teams and volunteer web developer to plan for implementation of the new ICAI website that we are developing.

Lisseth Lorenzo of ICA Guatemala in ContradictionsWe applied ICA’s ToP Participatory Strategic Planning process and the four levels of ORID to structure the week, and we shared the facilitation of the sessions. Day 1 was all about sharing Objective level data. We used the Historical Scan method to plot a shared history of ICA and ICAI, and then we reviewed the ‘State of the World’ of our membership by continent, our global governance and finances, and then the global ICA mission & values and the ICAI vision and ‘peer-to-peer’ approach articulated by the ICAI General Assembly in 2010.

Seva Gandhi of ICA USA leads Strategic DirectionsThe following three days were focused on articulating the Contradictions to that Vision (Reflective level) and developing Strategic Directions (Interpretive level) and Implementation plans (Decisional level) by which to address them. We confirmed our Board roles and reviewed our Board role descriptions as a prelude to implementation planning.

A highlight for me was the storytelling icebreaker that we invented at the start of the meeting, and returned to again and again – one of us would pose any question about ourselves or our involvement with ICA, and we would each answer it in turn. That turned out to be a simple but rich and insightful way to get to know each other.

It helped our process enormously that we used our own ICA methods, with which we were all quite familiar. Notwithstanding all that we found that we have in common, I was struck again and again by how differently we all think – that ‘human factor’ of culture at play!  That brought home to me just how valuable is face-to-face time together, especially for a largely virtual team.  I find it hard to imagine that we might otherwise ever have understood each other sufficiently to become effective as a Board or as a team in our 2 years together, let alone to raise our ambition for our service to the membership as we did.

ICAI global communications virtual meetingAs a largely virtual Board, and the leadership of a largely virtual global community, it was instructive also for us to experience the frustrations of slow internet access with which our African colleages have to contend so often when they join us in an online meeting.  We did eventually manage to connect virtually with our web developer and global communications team, and were very excited to see our draft new website taking form. We also managed to share some social media updates with the wider network during the week – but we quickly learned that if we all went online at once, when we returned to within wifi range at mealtimes, then we would all end up frustrated.

We were grateful for the virtual support and encouragement that we recieved from remote friends and colleagues, and appreciated every ‘like’ and comment.  I also enjoyed connecting on twitter with colleagues meeting at the same time at the IAF North America 2015 conference in Canada, sponsored by ICA USA, the ToP Network and ICA Asssociates. (I like to think that our photos of elephants and giraffes trumped theirs of elk and grizzly bears)

The subsequent regional gathering was attended by 17 Directors and staff of ICAs and partner organisations from across the region.  It began with a World Cafe conversation to get to know each other and our interests and asprations for the gathering, and then brief presentations from each of the organisations represented. The rest of the week was to be largely Open Space, ‘Sharing Approaches that Work’, followed by one day of strategic planning for the region.  I very much appreciated the opportunity to get to know some that I did not and to renew my acquaintance with others.  It seemed to me that the interchange within the region, and between it and the other regions represented by ICAI Board members, was very valuable.

ICA IAF collaboration with John CornwellI was also delighted that IAF Africa Director John Cornwell (also an ICA:UK Associate and for many years an ICA colleague in Africa) was there to lead a conversation on the potential for greater collaboration between IAF and ICA, at the local and the global levels, and to learn that the IAF Board is very supportive of that as I am myself.

I returned home energised and enthused myself, and excited by the prospects of a newly energised and enthused ICAI Board. Since January the Board is also enlarged from 7 to 8 members, with the very large Europe & Africa region now reallocated among three Vice Presidents (Europe MENA, East & Southern Africa and West & Central Africa respectively), and I think that too will be enormously helpful. I am encouraged by the increasing numbers of ICA partners and related organisations expressing an interest in joining ICAI as Associate members – including last week in East Africa, and also in Russia where I will be delivering ToP facilitation training next week.  I am looking forward to a growing and  strengthening global network, sharing ICA’s values, and supporting each other through peer-to-peer collaboration in our shared mission of ‘advancing human development worldwide’.

Full documentation of the meeting will be included in a new business plan to be finalised at our online Board meeting June, for approval at our online General Assembly on July 21.  In the meantime, join me in celebrating our new Strategic Directions!  In 2015-16 we will be…

ICAI Board 2015-16 strategic directions

To connect and to get involved, please like ICAI on facebook or follow ICAI on twitter!

Power to the People – why I am excited to be attending #EuroComm 2015

This was first published as a guest post on the IABC UK blog of the International Association of Business Communicators.

Eurocomm15Maybe I was just hooked by the title, “Power to the people”. What’s not exciting about that for a professional facilitator – especially one “passionate about participation and leadership”?  But why would I attend a conference of the communications profession – isn’t that all just about clever marketing copy?

Well, according to the copy, this year’s IABC Europe MENA conference is about about “the two most challenging aspects of communication today – people’s opportunity to be heard (encouraging ideas, innovation, etc.), and best practice to create practical action”. Which does sound quite a lot like facilitation to me. Besides, as a freelancer, I do have a use for marketing copy – and for extending my networks.

If that were not enough for me, this year’s regional IABC conference will be held just a couple of miles from where I live in London. Also, as a result of a new reciprocal partnership, members of the International Association of Facilitators like me are entitled to the discounted IABC member rate. Having perhaps played some small role in brokering that partnership, I felt it would be churlish not to take advantage…

I began to learn of IABC, and the value of facilitation to communications professionals, through meeting and working with Michael Ambjorn, now IABC Vice Chair. He and I worked together, on behalf of the RSA and ICA:UK respectively, to apply ICA’s Technology of Participation facilitation approach to help the RSA to engage with and mobilise its 27,000 Fellows worldwide. We developed what we called the RSA Small Groups methodolgy, to enable the RSA to increase it’s social impact and achieve its ambition of being ‘the best place to have an idea’. We worked together again, this time also with IABC members Jo Anstey and Bent Sorensen, on #ETF20 – a facilitated process designed to creatively engage a diverse, international staff team of around 120, both face-to-face and online, to reflect, learn and bond together in celebrating 20 years of collective achievement.

So I am keen to learn at EuroComm about how others in the communications profession are, or could be, applying facilitation to their address their challenges.  I am particularly attracted by session titles such as “The Power of Participation”, “Engaging in conversations that matter” and “Listening can change a whole organization”; and session leaders from organisations such as Oxfam and the European Commission, in the sectors that I typically work in myself, as well as those from Royal Dutch Shell, Mars and other corporates that are somewhat familiar to me through the work of facilitation colleagues.

I have also been reflecting on the value of communications to facilitation professionals, and am looking forward to exploring that further at EuroComm. When I am contracted as a facilitator to design and lead learning, consultation, engagement or change processes, especially in large organisations or systems and whether face-to-face or online, the effectiveness and impact of my own role is often dependant to some degree on my the broader communications of my client or partner.  Will participants arrive with clear and helpful expectations of the process, and will non-participants receive clear and helpful messages on the aims, outcomes and next steps?

A good example of where my own facilitation role was dependent to a large degree on wider communications processes in which I was largely not involved is Building a future together – broadening ownership in corporate planning, a 12 month programme engaging over 1,000 stakeholders in developing a new 5-year corporate plan for Bron Afon Community Housing in South Wales. In a 60-day contract spread over a year, the facilitation and training role played by my two colleagues and I could only ever represent a very small (if hopefully significant) fraction of a much wider change process in which broader communications were key.

Of course the EuroComm sessions on social media will be of particular interest to me as well, not least because of how much I rely on and enjoy using digitial channels for my own professional networking and for marketing communications.

I think it was a year or two year ago, soon after I had completed my term as IAF Chair and Michael had begun his Board role with IABC, that we first spoke of the potential of some sort of partnership between IAF and IABC, to support mutual learning and collaboration between facilitation and communications professionals. Now that such a partnership is in place, I am excited to take advantage and urge others to do likewise.

IAF members, join me if you can at EuroComm in London this month, and otherwise consider the IABC World Conference in San Francisco in June or check the IABC global calendar for an event near you or online.

IABC members, join me at the IAF Europe MENA conference in Stockholm in October or, before that, check the IAF world calendar for the North America conference in Banff in May or the Asia conference in Mumbai in August.

IABC Londoners, join our monthly IAF London facilitation meet-up, every second Thursday from 6-8pm near Trafalgar Square.

Members or not, wherever you are, do at least follow and engage with me and others at #EuroComm on twitter – see you there!

Getting started as a facilitator, a social entrepeneur and a freelancer

This interview was conducted by iGenius as part of their Getting Started interview series, and it is republished today to mark National Freelancers Day 2014. See also My first 416 days as a freelance facilitator, published this day last year.


 

As a facilitator, trainer and consultant, Martin Gilbraith help groups, teams and partnerships work more effectively together to bring about lasting change. What drives Martin is his passion and commitment to make a positive difference in the world, and to support and enable others to do so as well. Through his freelance work, Martin Gilbraith believes that facilitation and facilitative leadership will be key to achieving a just and sustainable world for all. The great reward of his work today is to see people awaken to their own power to make a difference, and to their capacity to join and align with others to achieve common goals for the greater good – to awaken to the power of their participation and their leadership. We spoke with i-genius member Martin Gilbraith to find out more.

i-genius: Why did you decide to go freelance?
Martin Gilbraith: I had been working with clients for years in my previous employed role, so when I stepped down from that I thought I’d carry on with whatever client work came to me while I considered my next move.  I pretty soon decided that I had found my next move, so I registered my own company and never looked back.  After years in management roles, it is a treat to be responsible for and accountable only to myself.

i-genius: What a good ingredient for a freelance consultant?
Martin: A friend and fellow freelancer once suggested to me that anyone who could be comfortable without a regular pay cheque every month could do no better than be their own boss and work freelance, and I think she has a point.

i-genius: Who’s/what’s been your continued source of inspiration?
Martin: For my whole career I have been involved in various ways with the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA), a global community of non-profit organisations and groups ‘advancing human development worldwide’. Many of the people I have met and worked with through ICA have been a source of inspiration for me, but most of all the practical methods ICA has pioneered by which ordinary people can and do change the world

i-genius: In what way is the work you do related to social enterprise?
Martin: Just as when I was employed as a charity Chief Executive, my income from client work enables me to volunteer and offer reduced rates and pro bono services to those causes that can’t pay higher rates. My most substantial volunteer commitment is as President of ICA International, supporting member ICAs in around 40 countries to support each other in their work. Many ICAs operate primarily through social enterprise, and most are actively seeking to to expand their social enterprise work.

i-genius: What difficulties did you experience setting up your freelance work?

Martin: I think I had it relatively easy because I had worked freelance before, and because I came back to freelance work after 15+ years working with clients and building my networks through that and various volunteer roles.  So I had my first freelance contract within weeks, and I was able to hit the ground running. The hardest part was stepping down from my previous role after so many years!

i-genius: What are the most crucial things you have done to grow your client list?
Martin: I have relied primarily on social media, especially LinkedIn to stay in touch with people I know and meet and twitter to reach out to new people. WordPress has been great for a simple but effective website and blog.

i-genius: Whilst freelancing do you find it hard to balance free time?
Martin: Yes, but it helps that my partner has a regular job so when he gets home I know it is time to stop work! Scheduling and booking holidays can be tricky, especially if clients are proving slow to commit to dates

i-genius: How does facilitating play an important role in today’s society?
Martin: People increasingly expect and demand to have a say and an influence in matters that affect them, and increasingly organisations are expected to engage with people to enable that – and increasingly they recognise the value of doing so for themselves and their own goals.  Fortunately, facilitation skills and tools are available and can be learned, and the facilitation community is growing to help people to participate effectively and to enable others do so as well.  I can’t think of any more important work to be involved in, than to support and enable others to bring about positive change

i-genius: What is your favourite motto in life?
Martin: “The past is approved, the future is open and the present is a gift”


For more on my work, and what others have to say about it, please see how I workwho I work with and recommendations & case studies – or view my profile and connect with me on LinkedIn.

You can connect with me also by joining my free facilitation webinars online, and IAF England & Wales’ free facilitation meetups in London and elsewhere.

Facilitation case study: Clinical Leadership Evaluation and Development with Manchester Primary Care Trust

This ToP facilitation case study from the archive was first written for and published in 2008 by ICA:UK.

The ToP Focused Conversation and Consensus Workshop methods are the focus of my upcoming Group Facilitation Methods course in Brussels, May 20-21. The ToP Historical Scan (Wall of Wonder) method features in two of my current projects, Celebrating the development of facilitation – world-wide and history long and Our ETF, a Journey Together. The process design and questions used were structured on the basis of the ORID model of the ToP Focused Conversation method (my ‘universal principle of facilitation‘).


Context

nhs-manchesterEffective clinical leadership is seen as central to the cultural and organisational changes expected of organisations across the health service, in the context of national reforms aimed at creating a patient-led NHS.

When ICA:UK was approached in early 2006, investments had been made in recent years in strengthening clinical leadership within the then South Manchester Primary care Trust (PCT).  These included the introduction of cluster working, and three Cluster Directors, to support extended primary care teams in multi-disciplinary and multi-agency working; and the creation of an in-house Education, Learning and Workforce Development Team, with a Practice Nurse serving as Clinical Lead.  Considerable further change was required and underway, including Agenda for Change and the merger of the three Manchester PCTs (South, North & Central).

Aims

In this context, it was felt timely to involve key stakeholders in evaluating clinical leadership within the PCT, and identifying opportunities and making plans for its further development.  ICA:UK was therefore contracted to design and facilitate a process to meet the following aims:

  1. to begin to evaluate clinical leadership across the PCT in relation to its impact on the organisation and organisational change, including the effectiveness of recent investments in clinical leadership;
  2. to identify opportunities for further development of clinical leadership, and empowering of clinical leaders, toward a culture of leadership within the PCT;
  3. to engage with and involve people in an inclusive and transparent way, that fosters a sense of ownership over the process and its outcomes.

Process

A series of tailored workshops was designed and delivered to meet these aims.  The process drew heavily on ICA’s ToP (Technology of Participation) methodology, notably the ToP Focused Conversation, Consensus Workshop, Action Planning and Historical Scan (or Wall of Wonder) methods.

A series of consecutive half-day Consultation workshops each followed a broadly similar process, but were tailored to engage with and involve three distinct stakeholder groups separately.  This approach was used in order that each group felt able to contribute frankly and without affecting each others’ contributions, and to enable triangulation of the results.  The three stakeholder groups were:

  • the clinical leaders themselves – one workshop for all 15-20 from across the PCT
  • front line clinicians without leadership roles – two workshops for approximately 30, identified by the Education, Learning and Workforce Development Team to be broadly representative of the total of 200 or so within the PCT
  • other key stakeholders with organisational responsibility for leadership – approximately 10-12 including the Education, Learning and Workforce Development Team, the three Cluster Directors and the Executive Director

Consultation workshops outline:

Arrivals & coffee/lunch
Opening & introductions, overview, ‘prouds & sorries’ & expectations
“Wall of Wonder” to map together the development of clinical leadership in SMPCT visually; to share stories & begin to discern chapters, trends, impacts, learnings, implications
Tea/Coffee break
Analysis of factors affecting clinical leadership development – what’s worked and what’s not worked, what supports & what blocks; in small groups followed brief plenary reports
Brainstorming of actions for clinical leadership development – in small groups followed brief plenary reports and prioritising by “sticky dot voting”
Reflection & close

In the event it proved impossible to bring the senior stakeholders together in person for a workshop, and so they were consulted instead by means of an email questionnaire.  The questions were tailored to generate responses compatible with those of workshop participants:

  1. In your experience, what have been 4 or 5 key events or milestones in the development of clinical leadership in SMPCT in the last 3 years? Please include dates (as best as you can).
  2. What are you particularly proud of, and sorry about, in relation to the development of clinical leadership in SMPCT?  Please list a few positives and a few negatives.  Please use examples or anecdotes to illustrate your points if you wish.
  3. In your experience and understanding, what are 4 or 5 key factors affecting clinical leadership development in the PCT?  For example – what do you think supports, and what blocks, the development of clinical leadership? 
  4. What 4 or 5 actions or changes would you recommend to support the development of clinical leadership in the PCT in the future, and address any blocks?  Feel free to suggest simple, one-off tasks or more complex, long-term projects – but please be as specific as you can.

A final half-day Review & Planning workshop was held the following week, for a representative sample of the three groups (approximately 20-30).  This workshop was designed to enable the group to reflect together on the output of the first three workshops, and agree an outline action plan for clinical leadership development within the PCT.

Review & planning workshop outline:

Arrivals & coffee
Opening & introductions, overview & expectations
Review of workshops documentation, questions of clarity; reflection & interpretation in small groups followed by brief plenary reports; writing up key actions on half-sheets, drawing on those brainstormed by means of the three Consultation workshops and email questionnaire
Tea/Coffee break
Action planning – cluster key actions by task forces, self-select into task forces to clarify & schedule actions by quarter, brief plenary reports, leadership & co-ordination
Reflection & close

Outputs & outcomes

The process used was documented in a Process Outline (June 16th 2006), and its outputs were documented in two reports, of the Consultation process (July 6th 2006) and of the Review & Planning (July 26th 2006).

A key outcome of the process was the establishment of four task forces, each comprised of 3-4 members from across the three groups, and each with its remit defined and with a first-draft work plan including quarterly milestones for the coming year and beyond. The remit of the four task-forces were:

  • Growth, Development, Training Opportunities
  • Redefinition & Clarity of Role & Responsibility & Expectations
  • Supporting Systems and Processes
  • Transparency, Communication & Access to Support

According to participants’ end-of-workshop feedback, highlights of the process included:

  • “Liked interactive style – getting up & moving around”
  • “Group interaction helped people to understand other point of view”
  • “An opportunity to speak and hopefully implement change”
  • “Feel process was moved on to something constructive”
  • “Positive actions proposed at end of session to take proposals forwards”

Follow-up process

Seven months on from the workshops, in early 2007, it was clear that the four groups had all met at least once, that their plans had progressed at least to some extent, and that at least some others had become involved.

The context of the work had changed significantly, however, with the merger of the three Manchester PCTs into one from October 2006, and with expectations of increased multi-agency working with for example Childrens’ Services & Adults’ Services, and also privatised services.  A new Associate Director of Services & Development had been appointed, whose remit was to  include clinical leadership development across the new PCT.

ICA:UK was contracted again, in early 2007, to design and facilitate a follow-up process to meet the following key aims:

  1. to engage the four task forces in reporting, and learning from, their progress together;
  2. to document their learnings in a report, including quotes, by which they may be disseminated within the new Manchester PCT
  3. to celebrate the accomplishments of the task forces and bring closure to the project, while sustaining a sense of achievement and potential for applying their learnings – at least as individuals, if not also as Manchester PCT

These aims were met by way of two related pieces of work.  An initial email questionnaire was circulated in February, to all participants and invitees of the process to date, to discern their experiences of the process and their perspectives on progress made, barriers experienced, and learnings.  A follow-up workshop was then held in March, to bring together the four task-forces and any email contributions received with the new Associate Director – to report on and celebrate progress made, to learn from experience, and to consider implications for themselves as individuals & leaders, and for the new Manchester PCT.

The email questionnaire in February comprised the following questions:

  1. As far as you know, what have been 2 or 3 key events or accomplishments that have occurred as a result of last July’s consultation and planning process?
  2. As far as you know, what have been 2 or 3 barriers or blocks that have hindered implementation of the plans made last July?
  3. What have you as an individual learned as a result of your involvement in this clinical leadership development work since last July?  How has that affected you personally, or your work?
  4. What would you identify as the one or two key lessons for the new Manchester-wide PCT to learn from this experience, relative to clinical leadership and its development?

Follow-up workshop outline:

Arrivals & coffee
Opening & introductions, overview & expectations
Evaluating progress – events & accomplishments, barriers & blocks, lessons learned; drawing both on email responses and on insight of those present
Lunch
Key learning messages for the new Manchester PCT – Consensus Workshop to weave together everyone’s insights into a single clear and concise statement
Reflection & Close

The process used was documented in a Process Outline (February 22nd 2007), and its outputs were documented in a report (April 2nd 2007).

The key output of this follow-up workshop was the output of the Consensus Workshop, a clear statement from participants of the 7-month process articulating their “key learning messages” for the new, merged Manchester PCT, from their experience of clinical leadership development:

We recommend that Manchester PCT should…

  • engage at all levels to ensure that structures, systems and behaviours are conducive to demonstrating effective leadership;
  • engage everyone in developing and communicating a shared model of effective leadership;
  • invest in the development of leadership at all levels;
  • support people in taking calculated risks within an accountability framework;
  • support clinicians to identify client needs when developing services;
  • analyse what we have, clarify what we want … and get on with it.

Impact & feedback

Gabrielle Wilson, Public Health Consultant Nurse and the client for the process, wrote:

“The participative methods adopted throughout this work encouraged clinicians, managers and senior stakeholders to engage with the process. Evaluation and feedback indicated that this inclusive and transparent approach was valued by participants, and that clinicians welcomed the opportunity to systematically identify learning messages for the new organisation.”

Christine Pearson, new Associate Director of Services & Development, wrote:

“Although not in post to be part of the initial work, I attended the follow up workshop in March. The style of engagement adopted ensured a participative approach and effective, valuable feedback that will inform future leadership development within the organisation.”

A further indication of the impact of the process may be an increased appetite within the PCT for applying the ToP approach to participation and partnership working.

A further series of Consultation workshops and a Review & Planning workshop were delivered later in 2007, on Management and Leadership Development.  This adapted the format and process developed for Clinical Leadership Evaluation and Development in South Manchester to engage with a cross-section of staff of the new Manchester PCT – to begin to develop a consensus on “a Manchester way of managing”, a core set of leadership and management competencies to deliver this style, and a few priority actions for “quick wins” over the following months.

Since then the approach has also been applied to review and planning “away days” with individual staff teams including the Joint Occupational Therapist Unit of Manchester Equipment and Adaptations Partnership (a joint service of Manchester PCT and Manchester City Council) and the Manchester PCT Interpretation Service.

EU-funded places available on ToP facilitation training next week!

Facilitative Leadership and Group Facilitation Methods for Social Cohesion and Gender Equality

Two places have become available at short notice on an EU-funded facilitation training to be held next week, December 9-14, in English & Spanish in Madrid, Spain.

The course is titled “Facilitative Leadership & Group Facilitation Methods for Social Inclusion and Gender Equality“, and is organised and delivered by ICA Spain with ICA:UK.

For full details, please download the course information and practicalities (pdf), and for enquiries and bookings please email catalina@iac-es.org or info@iac-es.org.

The course starts Monday 9th at 17.00 and finishes Saturday 14th, at 13.30. ICA Spain will be glad to cover the 750 Euros course fee. Participants are asked to cover their own accommodation, meals and travel (round trip). If interested they could discuss these expenses.

The course is designed for people responsible for facilitating multicultural and interdisciplinary groups more effectively within educational, social, political, cultural sectors; for team leaders and managers dealing with social inclusion and gender equality policy making; and for youth and community workers and social development agents responsible for implementing social cohesion and gender equality policies.

Comments from the evaluations of last year’s course include:

…. a solid and intelligent combination of professional competence and personal drive and engagement. Great attention to detail was evident from the logistical organization to the high quality of delivery.” (Participant from Switzerland).

Excellent course, excellent facilitation, truly an opportunity to learn valuable skills. Highly recommend it.” (Participant from Spain).

It was an excellent course both on providing knowledge and skills on the topic.” (Participant from Greece).

What stood out especially was the trainers’ attention to each particpants’ professional development and the strong participatory elements.” (Participant from Germany).

The approach was very successful because we had moments of theory, demonstration and practice of the new methodologies. We had the opportunity to participate in some cultural and study visits which make us connect with the contents of the course and know more about the host country.” (Participant from Portugal).