Mea culpa for not writing much in the blog lately – I have been tres busy as its facilitation season.
Been traveling and bopping about helping different groups with their visioning and planning needs (as well as being a coach, I’m also a facilitator and change consultant to groups and organizations).
Last week I was with a Vancouver area secondary school – doing a joint visioning project with students, parents and teachers/staff.
Our intent was to meet with all of the various stakeholders of the school and create a shared five year vision (at a later meeting we will create an action plan to reach that desired end state).
There are lots of ways to do visioning with large groups. However my preferred way is a graphic template method, called The Strategic Visioning Process, from The Grove Consultants International (my former employer from back in my San Francisco days).
Grove has great products that assist facilitators in working in a visual way. This is especially handy in large groups, as the graphics make efficient use of time and enable the different stakeholder groups to express and communicate their unique perspectives.
To develop a vision, I first like to use a classic Grove template, called The Cover Story Vision (I actually helped create this product, back when I was intern for them in the mid 90s).
This is an exercise that helps me get participants into an imaginary/brainstorming kind of mood.
The first group I worked with was the students themselves (about 25 working in two groups). How refreshing to work with teenagers – really! They are less jaded and cynical than the rest of us. Natural visionaries. It’s just a matter of setting the parameters and then letting them loose to facilitate and create themselves. Which they did wonderfully!
After the kids, I worked with the parents in the evening during their PAC meeting. Then the next day, spent the morning with the teachers and staff (about 70 of them). Broke them into six groups and did the same Cover Story Exercise with them. Then did a Gallery Walk of their work, plus an unveiling of the work that the students and parents did (which everyone was very curious to see).
After the Gallery Walk we have the converging task of wrapping all the different versions into one, over-arching cohesive vision. Lots of stickie notes, clustering and word smithing: that eventually results (after some studio work afterwards) in a Vision Chart like this: voila! This become Version 1.0 of their collective Vision. A end goal to set their sights on and to build their planning around. More work to be done, however a very productive use of their time and focus.
If you are a consultant, facilitator, educator, etc looking for an interesting and effective way to engage your group in a visioning/planning discussion, I highly recommend Grove’s products. I’ve been using them for a decade now with consistently good results.
Christina Merkley, Graphic Facilitator.