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Beginnings and endings


A good beginning is half of a success. Maybe the other half is a good end. In a change process the participants seem to remember the ending of an event like a workshop.

Most of them do not remember clearly what happened in between the beginning and the end. If a dialogue is working very well people will be tired and their points of views has been challenged and often changed because they have entered a new perspective on things.

A successful change process is like a good fairy tale. The journey of exploration starts at home, where the hero lives in relative order. Then something happens and the hero begins the journey. Before leaving the home the hero goes through a dragon gate.

At the dragon gate the dragons ask: Do you really want to go on this journey? Do you think you have what it takes?

Your job is to invite people to this journey of discovery and persuade them to feel safe even when they face ambiguity, disorientation and uncertainty. In a change process you will

  • be without a clear sense of direction
  • leave the normal protection from ambiguity and uncertainty
  • leave a clear sense of role and sense of time and space
  • experience the diversity of interests
  • build new standards for behavior

So you need to help people find the answers to the questions of the dragons:

Why are we entering this journey?

What have we done to prepare well for the unexpected things we will experience on the journey?

You can make the answer to these questions in really technical and academic. But a journey of exploration deserves better. So give it all a catchy name that opens people’s imagination. “The journey of exploration to the most attractive organization in the world!”

If you use the best traditions of storytelling in your practice you will be closer to a good beginning. You are starting on an adventure together!

One good way to invite the participants into this spirit is to ask them:

  • What are your hopes and wishes for the outcome of the journey?
  • What are your hopes and dreams of how the journey will be like?

You document their answers so you can use them when the process ends and the dragons ask you: Was it really worth the trouble? Did you find any treasures on your journey? Wasn’t it a horribly hard journey?

At the ending you should give the participants the possibility of telling their stories. It is called a debriefing, where they can present the outcomes of their journey and the experiences they would like to share. Now you all are seasoned travelers and need to tell your stories.

The host, the design team and the practical helpers also deserve to know how you appreciated their help.

If you know a good ritual that celebrates a good home coming of a winning team you know what the participants really deserve. Give people a change to say thank you!

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