Design for One-Day Retreat LO2817
Thu, 14 Sep 1995 16:28:31 -0400


I've been on this list for the past three months and have found these
"dialogues" very stimulating. Thanks to all of you and a special nod to
Jackie and Michael and Barry and John and Jack for your perspectives which
have triggered some nice learnings in me. I'm writing to present a
challenge I'm experiencing with a client.

For small bit of context, my background is business and psychology. The
question that has compelled me is how to personally and organizationally
evolve, only recently have I also started asking the what and why
questions. I worked as a consultant with Arthur Andersen back in the early
80's and have "progressed" (quotes to signify particularly loaded words
for me). to working as an independent OD consultant. I just returned from
a couple years working overseas, with over a year working with some
troubled hospitals in the UK. One of my favorite hurdles on that project
was, "things must be really bad over here if we in the UK are having to
rely on Americans to help us sort out our health care system". My response
was, "if you say so"... and the Brits say we Americans don't get irony.

So here is the challenge. I've been asked to facilitate a day long retreat
with a university extension group. Their stated mission for the day is
"How can we develop and strengthen the entire cluster team over the next
12 months?". The group consists of 20 folks who are compromised of 3
subgroups. One is the Masters degreed "professional educators". A second
group is the "para-professionals". The third is the support staff. Three
of the stated challenges are: morale, not working well together and
turnover of staff. Because of a very small budget I have been asked to
help a small multi-functional design team design the day and then act as
the facilitator for the day. The day is designed as follows:

* Context- 4 staff will talk about where the group has been
and what they have accomplished
* Visioning- What would people like to see created as new
possiblities for the team. Here we may use storytelling or
have the group draw images of that possible future as a
gateway to shifting perspectives from the analytic and
to some deeper learning and building some shared meaning
* Roadblocks- What get's in the way of the vision
* Strategies- What are ways the blocks can be resolved
* Tactics- Actual detailed plans of enacting the tactics

I've led a number of sessions with all sorts of organizations built around
these themes. My problem is I don't think they work anymore, if they ever
did. I've seen organization after organization use similar models and
after a couple weeks or months "regress back to the mean". Using images or
storytelling and even some work on roadblocks feels like trying to tweak a
dying paradigm. My beliefs around a OD consultants role have held a
tension between participative/learning processes on the one hand and
having the client expect me to be in control and be responsible for the
day and have the right answers on the other. This frame of mind no longer
feels like it works, for me or the client organization.

So what do you all suggest? Are there ways to introduce LO practices in
a one day ( annual? ) workshop? How can we balance LO practices with the
clients hope to be transformed in a day? Are there LO practices that we
can introduce as an intro to the team being able to self-sustain further
practice with the principles ( and outcomes of deeper learning and
delivering enhanced organization results ) in one 6 hour session? These
are groups that seem to be longing for ways to get unstuck.

I see lot's of requests from organizations for this type of work,
especially with smaller to medium sized clients and not-for-profits who
"can't" or don't feel like they can afford more time or money for this
type of work. It feels like the "We're too busy just trying to make ends
meet, but we do set aside one small amount of time each year to do this
stuff" mindset. How do we assist such a group?

I could say a lot more about all the buttons this pushes in me, lately I
seem to be in a place where I have a lot of questions and no answers
anymore. This feels both somewhat liberating and very scarey. For now, I
look forward to any thoughts, images, suggestions and stories that are
triggered by this dilemma.

Warm regards, 
Chuck Kingsley;