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Whenever transformation is involved, it is stated that a mindset refraim has a key role to play. Many initiatives threaten to fail because people remain in their old “patterns” instead of opening up to the new. Even the best chains of argumentation are of no use. And even horror scenarios or idealized visions of the future miss their target alone. Time to reflect on a very old format and its power – the effectiveness of the circle.

The failure of transformation

Each and everyone is currently engaged in primarily digital transformation. However, many are apparently not making much progress in this area, and it can be often heard  that they are “lagging behind”. Transformation initiatives often drag on for years and seem to be stagnating.

According to the study Shifthappens 2020, two out of every three initiatives fail. If one follows the many analyses and studies that examine this, the disruptive factors are usually the classics of change management: lack of vision or future prospects, too many activities at once and the resulting sand dune effect, incorrect planning, lack of support from promoters.

And above all a culture shock. Whereas in the past, classic silos, services according  to instructions mentality and cascade goals were required, collaboration, self-organization and iterations are now suddenly on the agenda. A 360-degree turn, so to speak, with a clear panoramic view. A bit much at once, for one or the other.

The importance of communication

Communication is one of the central success factors for successful change, which is a transformation. Even if the holistic version of the Change. Lack of communication leads to resistance. And this makes the entire transformation process slack. Helpful communication, in turn, takes the players on the road, involves them, and ensures integration. So far so good. Has been understood.

But what kind of communication should inspire the transformation? Nicely designed slides with many good arguments. The arguments that are plausible to the creator of the slides. Optimized to the point that they convince every member of the steering committee and beyond.

It obviously does not work. This kind of communication does not seem to bring people into effectiveness and action. Rather, it seems to make them persevere. Otherwise, many transformations would not be where they are.

A question of the mindset

It is really not about communication. It is only a means to an end. It wants to move. To bring people into thinking. Change perspectives. Broaden perspectives. Create desires. Arouse interest in co-design.

It’s more a matter of stimulating the mindset to change. To expand it, to move it out of its rigid corset and comfort zone and to go on a journey of discovery.

And this is certainly not possible with a plausible set of slides. But maybe with good stories. Not with one but with many. Maybe with analogies and personal experiences. And with individual wishes and desires. And with the medium of emotion instead of reason.

The effectiveness of the Circle

And this is where the Circle comes into play. A circle is a conversation circle, which allows to reach deeper levels of communication. In literature several names are used for this circle, e.g. Communication Circle or Talking Circle.

The Circle is a “learning format” that is still actively used by many indigenous people today. For the development of their children or to make decisions for example. It has been used as a method of organizational development and facilitation in recent years for organizations and companies and can work true miracles.

For a circle, a group of people (approx. 6-30+) comes together, whose connection consists in answering a common question. These groups sit together in a closed circle.
This can take place around a table or in an open circle of chairs.
The question for a circle is published for all to see.
A talking stick is used, which moves from group member to group member. It can either be passed on directly when a group member has spoken, or it can first be moved back to the center and then picked up by the next member who wants to contribute.

The effectiveness of the circle can be traced back to the setting, but above all to its principles.
Each member speaks in turn and has the right to speak as long as he or she sees it as appropriate and holds the speaking stick in his or her hands.
There is no external dialogue in the sense of questions or debates, but rather contribution after contribution. Sometimes with reference to previous speakers, sometimes without.
Once the circle is complete, it begins all over again.

An accompanying facilitator can at this point set a short summary of the preliminary round or a focus e.g. with reference to the initial question.
In this way, up to four rounds (depending on the size of the group) can take place. Then the facilitator closes the circle.

The Magic of the Circle

The principles of this format allow the minds of all participants to come to rest and listen to each other more and more intensively. Since an answer cannot/should not be given immediately, the attention remains with what has been said. From different perspectives and aspects, a new and extended  view of things crystallizes in small steps. In mini-steps your own mindset changes. By themselves. On the basis of a diverse view, but with your own thoughts and feelings. This is sustainable and works. This is how action is planned.

Interesting is the effectiveness of the Circle. It works through itself. Change happens. Just like that. Without chains of argumentation. Without logic. From within itself. How magical.

To everyone’s satisfaction, by the way. It is astonishing. Everything important comes up. Represented by all. Thus a wonderful example of self-organization and collaboration is created. And thus changing culture. In every circle.

Circles also have success factors

Two factors are crucial to the effectiveness of the Circle.

First is this: the question. It needs to be carefully chosen and well formulated to reach everyone and to raise the potential inherent in the community. Ideally, it should be formulated in several iterations together with representatives of the Circle and the facilitator.

Then the attitude of the facilitator. No, a facilitator is not a moderator. Rather, it is a person who unintentionally shapes the room and “holds” it, i.e. ensures that the Circle process runs smoothly and in accordance with the principles. This is a very special art that needs to be learned.

 

You use the effectiveness of the Circle to make Mindset Refraim.
With us it goes well.

 

A Company Future Journey is a very familiar topic for us. Since our foundation, “The Company Journey Guides” have accompanied people and organizations in a variety of ways on their journey of finding an identity, cultural design, reorientation of business models as well as working and learning formats.
We know about the power of a vision and have learned to appreciate and prioritize the value of a purpose. We have often been able to experience how individuals and teams regain their full strength when the meaning of their own actions becomes clear, or how each of their strengths can be brought to bear. Sometimes we have even experienced a silence which occurs when it becomes clear how personal values and needs are in line with those of the organisation.
And yes, we have also gained experience with the fact that every change is gladly repressed and rejected initially before the path through resistance leads the way to shaping the new.

Departure – every beginning is hard

At the beginning of this year we set off on our own journey again. Our experiences during our projects gave us the courage and drive to start our own TCJG Company Future Journey.
It was easy to set off so far, questioning everything and verifying its future sense and suitability.
At the same time there were doubts and appeasements. Everything is actually (still) going well. And we have enough to do. Why should we now expose ourselves to a “pupation”? Especially since we know that our journey will lead through the four fields of the Change House (Claes F. Janssen). Defensiveness and resistance need to be expected along the way.
Things became turbulent right at the beginning. At first, we didn’t agree, neither about our departure nor about the direction. Leaving our comfort zone, even if it was just mentally, caused stress.
At the same time, it became obvious: now is the right time to leave. There was already a big crack in the cocoon. And a butterfly was waiting for us.

Start with the WHY

Following the principles of Simon Sinek , the first part of our journey led us to the WHY, the description of our Purpose.
Along this way we first dealt intensively with our past, our achievements and effectiveness. We reviewed our values and the motives for our actions. We found that our: values (mindfulness, truthfulness, sustainability) still remain valid.
At the same time, we analysed our strengths and identified what makes us unique.

We then asked ourselves what really mattered to us. Then we quickly agreed: human beings. And their unique and unmistakable contribution to shaping a company’s future.
We had already arrived at the “Purpose” and the caterpillar had hatched.

Taking time during the HOW

The short rest at our Purpose made it clear to us how invigorating it is for the entire team and it therefore was a real pleasure to continue our journey. Very quickly, the “Silver Line” on the horizon became clear. That’s where we should be heading. We empower people and organizations to shape their future and actively contribute to making this possible. WOW!

During our HOW, the development of the Governance and the Guiding Principles then again became somewhat bumpy. This is exactly where it comes down to business if you are to take this journey seriously. How exactly would we like to offer our services? What unites us in this regards? What don’t we want any longer, even though it is well familiar to us and makes us feel safe? What do we stand up for with all our strength and also ready to go the extra mile? What can our customers rely on? When do we say yes and when no?

That was really challenging and sent our team through another new process. Frankly, the doubts and concerns came back. And not everyone was always happy. Especially since it became clear that certain beloved habits would not continue to travel with us.

The result were eight Guiding Principles and four areas, of how we work. And now we are really happy with them. We have set them as a measure for ourselves and thus become effective accordingly.

We have learned: Allow enough time with the HOW. It just takes time. Well, caterpillars, just the same, take their time and move slowly.

Arriving at the WHAT via our customers

Before we actually turned off to the “WHAT”, we took a long detour via our customers. Following the principles of design thinking, we first wanted to find out and understand what they exactly need and what their concerns might be. Where do they see added value and why would they need our support at all?

We created personas for this purpose and looked at the world from their perspective. This was a very enlightening process that we can recommend to every organization and every team. We then carried out a Customer Value Proposition for these personas and were able to sharpen our HOW once again.

Then came the exciting moment: matching the focus of our customers with our core competencies and strengths. And four new and inspiring business areas emerged from this: Mindset first, Leadership? – Leader-Shift!, Zeitgeist L&OD and Hero Customer.

Now is the time to make them come to life. We already possess a certain amount of services and product offerings for these areas from our past and will contribute them accordingly. Others are currently under development, following the DT principles of iteration with our customers. There is still a long way to go. Consequently, our Company Future Journey will continue even further.

Some of our previous services also had to be left behind. They simply no longer have a place in our new travel baggage. We’ve already said goodbye to some of them, while for others this process is still outstanding. This is of course a little bit sad.

And yet: the butterfly is now unfolding its wings. It is magnificent and multi-faceted. And it is the future.