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Change process toolbox


The most important tools in your toolbox are connected to imagination, play and construction. Your first challenge is to imagine, what this change process is going to look like. You are designing and planning two things at the same time: The change process and the construction of the change process.

When the change and learning takes place it looks like this: A group of highly concentrated and engaged people in a conversation using all their senses.

What is happening is that people are imagining, playing with and constructing

  • Who they could be and how they can contribute to the new community they are going to build
  • The personal relationships they need to have in order to achieve this future
  • The landscape inside and around the community
  • Who and what in these landscapes can influence the future of the community
  • Events that could help the new community to prosper or to make it break down
  • The preventive actions they can take in order to keep the community safe and on the right track to the future they prefer

The participants are on a journey of exploration to their new community bringing all their experience and skills and lots of hopes of success and hopes of avoiding too much failure.

You are going to produce the stage and script for the events that make it possible for people to do that together in a group that is much more diverse than they usually see themselves.

As the designer of the change process you need to imagine yourself as a creator of a total theater production, where the audience is creating the content of the play in a series of stages. Each stage unites elements of performing, auditory and visual arts with philosophy, psychology, organizational theory and literature into order to achieve unique results.

So you need to feel comfortable in this creative process, which usually means that you should choose which of the performing arts and which of the theoretical foundations you believe in yourself. If you invite people into the universe of a theater production you will be surprised how skilled they are in creating a fantastic play.

If you use the metaphor of a circus production, you can ask people to build a circus performance like this: Divide the participants into groups, who have to invent and rehearse their act, one group is the clowns, other groups are the wild beasts, the orchestra, the acrobats, the jugglers and so on. You give each group 2 hours to prepare the act and tell them where they can find materials for their performance and where the circus performance is going to take place. They have to coordinate the performance while they rehearse. They have to give the order of the performance to the director of the circus, who is going to do the introductions.

In a change process you create the stages and provide the things people need to build the play. You probably need help to create the theater and the sets for the stages in the play. If you provide professional support for the participants they can build the sets for the stages themselves.

In total theater the idea is to create space and time for that make it possible for the participants to be capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason. Total theater aim to explore ideas and points of view and open the doors for alternative models of perception, organization, and understanding. Of course as times, technologies and experiences develop strategies on how to achieve this will have to shift as well.

What you need to bring in your change process toolbox is knowledge on how to do the different logical tasks presented here. You need to have examples of

  • Well proven overall methods for change processes in large groups, I suggest you should know Open Space Technology, Appreciative Inquiry Summit, Real Time Strategic Change and Prosperity Games
  • Well proven ideas on human change and learning processes for individuals, groups and organizations, Social constructionism is at the centre of the methods for change processes in large groups
  • Well proven ideas on performing arts where storytelling is at the heart of all of them
  • Well proven exercises, scripts, timelines, invitations, agendas and everything else you need in the design and planning of the change process

You do not need to have experience with all of these but it is much easier to make a change process design if you have been a participant or facilitator yourself. If you need help, you should be able to find people with experience in the many different areas involved in the design process. And you will need many of them to participate in the construction of the exercises and sets and as facilitators or practical assistance in the process.

If you want a more scientific introduction to what you are doing in a change process, you can search for the science of Lego Serious Play. I can be a good source if your client wants to know why you are doing things in this way.

The last time I searched for it, I found it here: http://www.rasmussen-and-associates.com/downloads/science_of_LSP.pdf

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Categories: Design tasks
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