President and Founder of The Grove Consultants International—organizational consultant and information designer, building on years of experience in leadership development, strategic visioning, organization change, and futures study—author of leading-edge group process tools and models for facilitation, team leadership, and organizational transformation. These reflections are for Grove colleagues worldwide.
I selected the following large Storymap's as representative examples of my information design work at The Grove where I was a lead designer on the project. Each of them were critical in moving us to another level of confidence and excitement about this big picture way of working. What these photos do not show, of course, is the rich process of facilitated design meetings that we led as a way of generating this material.
I've included this photo album of some of the people in The Grove's associate network that use our facilitation and Strategic Visioning methods integrally in their work. They are my teachers and I theirs. Collaboration networks are behind most truly innovative, robust methodologies, and our is no exception. Claiming credit as an individual would be like a tree claiming credit for the forest. If you aren't here and know that you should be, send me you picture and a writeup and I'll post it.
These are two supportive visuals for a Partners for Change model I co-designed with Sissel Waage and Ruth Rominger. It shows how we would bring multiple sustainability researchers and activists together around critical issues and support them to create collaborative efforts in media and tool creation.
Firehawk Hulin and Amy Lenzo helped The Grove make a video introducing our new Visual Meetings book on Amazon. Take a look here and let me know what you think of it! Thanks. For more information click Visual Meetings.
This last week I was at The Clearing in Washington DC , co-facilitating a workshop designing an interagency approach to logistics for crises like Haiti. At the conclusion The Clearing's founder,
Chris McGoff, introduced Visual Meetings and invited everyone to join staff and associates of The Clearing in a post-meeting reception and book signing. Chris's new company is making graphic facilitation a central part of their offering, since their mission is to tackle the most complex problems government faces. They don't believe they can do this without visualization, partnering with The Grove. It was impressive to be sharing about this work right inside a conference room filled with the evidence. Many a person in the meeting said they were so relieved not to have to go to a meeting full of PowerPoints. A couple of the participants got extras for their kids -- a request that made my day.
Imagine holding the book you see here in your hands, and knowing that you wrote, illustrated and designed all 262 pages! I got that chance last Friday when Visual Meetings arrived from Wiley & Sons. The process began in December of last year when
Richard Narramore called and wondered if I would like to write a book about visualization for groups, following the success of Dan Roam’s book Back of the Napkin. Little did I realize then how fun it would be to deliver this sweeping review of 35 years of leading visual meetings all over the world. I’m writing here to share some of the process I went through for those who might be interested in how books like this come to be. If you want to skip this post and go right to getting the book, then click on this link to a special page on our web site at The Grove—About Visual Meetings. It has all the details. If you want to hear my personal story of this journey read on.
Imagine a three channel, six city, tele-computer-graphics meeting with over 40 people involved and lasting four hours. I can and actually helped facilitate one recently when a consumer goods company from France decided to review its plans for talent management in Asia with its teams in Tokyo, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Singapore and San Francisco in a virtual rather than face to face setting. Here’s a picture of our video link (I was represented only by my graphics).
My coaching colleague Ward Ashman shared a link to TechWeb's interview with Dan Briklen, inventor of Visicalc and now developer of a real note taker app for the iPad. Click here to see what it can do. I was up and running in ten minutes and was delighted to find that I could write with my finger in the zoom screen and have it appear on the page as decent handwriting. This is just the tip of the iceberg, I believe -- and so does Dan. "The iPad isn't a viewer it is a controller," he says. "People want to have direct control."
I read in the news recently that productivity apps are outselling the other kinds as users begin to give Apple the feedback about what this tool is really for. Did those of us who are in visual practice have to figure this out. I don't think so!
I woke up this morning thinking about freedom and independence, not just because it is the celebration of the United States freeing itself from England, but also because it is the anniversary of my freeing myself to create my own business.
That was back in 1977 when I set up a personal consultancy focused on organization development, communications, and graphic & design. My logo was a bright yellow spot, looking a bit like a light bulb. Here’s the image. (Note: I don’t live on 6th Avenue any more.)
Looking back the feeling of excitement about declaring “independence” didn’t last very long. I wasn’t very “free” in those early days, in the ways that mattered most. Deciding to be “independent” I was also deciding to take on a new set of responsibilities. I now had to do my own marketing, selling, writing, fulfillment, invoicing, and all the other things that make a company a company. My little startup was really nothing more than idea, and the next three years were a slide into challenge after challenge as I struggled to figure out how to run a business.
For eleven days early this May I accompanied twenty nine national park superintendents, deputy regional superintendents, and head rangers on a brand new immersive leadership training called the National Parks Institute. There were park execs from all over the United States and eleven others countries—including Chile, Paraguay, Lebanon, the Bahamas, the Dutch Antilles, Kenya, Australia, China, and New Zealand. I was the “facilitator.” I put this in quotes because it was a unique role – part master of ceremony, part process designer, part graphic facilitator, part participant observer, and part California Native speaker. It was a transformational experience for me and for the others. I want to share some of its impact here.
Here we all are at the end of the tunnel leading into Yosemite Valley.
This post links you to a video about my presentation on Visual Meetings at a recent TEDxSOMA event at the ParisSOMA loft South of Market Street in San Francisco. My Parisian college Meryem Le Saget introduced me to the sponsor Clement Alterseco, President of FaberNovell in Paris, several months ago and it led to an invitation. ParisSOMA is a shared workspace for young entrepreneurs, very much in the spirit of the TED events, whose motto is "ideas worth sharing." My own ideas have formed over the 38 years I've been a visual practitioner and are condensing into a book for Wiley & Sons on the subject that will come out this summer. My 10 minute fly-over is a fast-paced review of what feels like a real revolution in how we communicate in organizations.
My father, the Reverend Laing Witherspoon Sibbet, passed away this New Year’s Day at Sutter Solano Medical Center, in Vallejo, California. His death, as did his life, touched me deeply, and I’d like to share some of this story. He was 93, and up until his last sermon on Christmas Day in 2008, a full time Congregationalist pastor. I’ll begin at the end with what I wrote to the family the evening of his passing.
“Dad peacefully left his body tonight at 8:05 when he stopped breathing at the conclusion of a ceremonial last supper we held for him in the hospital. The day was a graceful ballet of our family— gathering and forming a loving container for his passing. He began to doze midday, after some animated attempts to talk and relate to his great grandson, Benjamin in the morning. (A severe stroke the prior day had left him unable to talk or move anything on his right side.) As the afternoon wore on his temperature cooled, his heart slowed, and the doctors were pretty sure he would be passing within the next day or so. At 6:00 we read him a very moving goodbye letter from his grand daughter Sage. Not wanting to leave him at this point, but needing dinner, we decided to have a “last supper.” A nearby Lucky Store provided unsliced sourdough loaf, grape juice, a candle, cineraria in full blue bloom, and tapioca pudding, his favorite. His wife Joanne, my brother James and
wife Carole and I created a little altar on the hospital bed at his feet and
stood around him in circle as he labored to breathe. He wasn’t in pain, and looked like he was going.
Lynn Kearny sent me a link to this stunning graphic portrayal of what science knows about our universe. It's a humbling, inspiring experience to watch, imagining that our lives are part of such an incredible dance of light. On this day when we celebrate the birth of new light in so many traditions, let us remember that however we represent the universe, that it is alive, and whole, and probably aware.