Visual Consulting: Harvesting The Grove’s Change Leadership

grove news organization change Sep 05, 2018


From its inception to the present day, The Grove has helped design and lead large organizational- and community-change projects by successfully applying its visual facilitation, teaming, strategic-visioning, and process-leadership methods. Now Grove founder David Sibbet and Gisela Wendling, vice president for global learning, have written Visual Consulting: Designing and Leading Change, the fourth book in the Wiley & Sons Visual Facilitation Series. It includes several new frameworks and a rich set of practices for facilitators wishing to become visual consultants or consultants who wish to become visual.

Visual Consulting introduces a new model for change, called the Seven Challenges of Change, and integrates an underlying archetypal framework for change developed by Gisela Wendling called the Wendling Liminal Pathways Change Framework™ with other Grove frameworks that support thinking about process. The book grounds its ideas in a case study of a major change project and details how consultants can become aware of the inner dynamics over the course of a change process as well as the outer process structures that support real transformation.

In writing the book, Gisela and David are defining visual consulting as a conscious blending of visual facilitation, dialogic practice and working with clients over the long arcs of organizational change—processes that are invariably complex, time-consuming, and full of emergent dynamics. They also emphasize the importance of working with your own self as a key element in change.

Three patterns are explored and integrated in Visual Consulting.


Fundamental Pattern I: Building on an Archetype of Change

Gisela’s doctoral work focused on researching the processes traditional cultures, especially indigenous people, use to help guide individual and community change. Rites-of-Passage is an anthropological and universally applicable framework of change. It reflects that there is a period of separation from what has been, followed by a transition or liminal period (liminal means threshold or margin), and then whatever emerges needs to be integrated.





Gisela’s Wendling Liminal Pathways Change Framework™ highlights two additional universally applicable dimensions important to guiding successful or transformative change—the inner process a person experiences going through change (orange beads) and creating an outer structure that focuses and guides the energy of change (blue beads). Together these create the crucibles of transformation or a chrysalis effect.


Fundamental Pattern II: Building on an Archetype of Process



Gisela and David have integrated the Wendling Liminal Pathways Change Framework™ with a Four Flows way of understanding process that underlies many well-tested process models used by The Grove. These levels, or “flows” of process, reflect the four ways humans break down and make sense out of the larger whole at any one point in time no matter what is happening.

Flow 1: We imagine what is happening with our attention and awareness. This is depicted as being a “top-line” consideration. It is in our inner awareness that we aspire and dream.

Flow 2: We directly feel energy, emotions, and movement in the ongoing flow of activities.

Flow 3: We think about the information contained in words, graphics, and numbers that we use to communicate and represent everything else.

Flow 4: We directly sense and touch the physical, operational, three-dimensional world and real constraints that we all live in. This is depicted as a “bottom-line” flow.

These flows are all working together, of course, but our awareness moves from one to another as we facilitate and consult.


Fundamental Pattern III: Combining the Basic Patterns

Combining the Wendling Liminal Pathways Change Framework™ and Four Flows of Process Model resulted in the Seven Challenges of Change Framework, the structure that shapes much of the book.



This framework shows the different flows of process moving from the initiating stages of activities, 1 to 4, moving from the freedom of top-line aspirations down to the real work constraints at the bottom line, across the four flows of process (the A, E, I, O letters on the left). When these are adequately handled, then the process can regain freedom through movement and expression during the actualizing stages of activities from 4 to 7. This freedom-to-constraint and back-to-freedom movement is the underlying pattern of process that Arthur M. Young delineates in his Theory of Process. (This is also the pattern of teaming processes, as anyone familiar with the Drexler/Sibbet Team Performance Model® will recognize.)

Visual Consulting unpacks the inner-process dynamics of change and the outer-process structures through all seven stages, showing how to balance these two in a successful change process. It explores the idea that “crucibles” of change are possible at each stage of activity. Like a rite within rites of passage that cultivates and harnesses the energy of change, “crucibles” have a similar function. Visual Consulting shares how you and your client leaders actually experience it all and can hold both uncertainty and structure as you move through change.


Application in Practice

Gisela and David have tested the framework and the practice of consciously integrating visual facilitation, dialogic practice and change work with a wide range of clients. This includes a year-long program teaching internal managers at the Metropolitan Council in Minnesota how to be change and process leaders. Another large project in which this work was implemented occurred at the University of California, Merced, where David and Gisela helped guide the university’s vision- and change-alignment process.



Visual Consulting is packed with examples and suggested best practices flowing from these field experiences. The book is scheduled for release on September 12 and is already available for purchase on Amazon, along with the other books in the Wiley Visual Facilitation series: Visual Meetings, Visual Teams, and Visual Leaders.



This book grew out of, and now supports, The Grove’s Designing & Leading Change workshops. In September Gisela and David are sharing insights from the book through interactive workshops in Germany, Austria, Italy, and Poland, in addition to their upcoming Designing & Leading Change intensives in San Francisco. The next SF session is Oct. 10-12, 2018.

Learn more about The Grove’s Organization Change services.

Purchase Visual Consulting.

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