Trends in leadership development and implications for their implementation

Everyone wants to know what the global trends are for this thing or the next so that they can know if they measure up. Am I on par? As innovator in the space of leadership development, I am usually more interested in whether I am ahead or have an edge that makes me different from all the rest, but, I acknowledge the value of looking at the patterns evident in large scale social behaviour, if only to see what not to do. Was I pleasantly surprised! What the trends indicate we ought to do, is not what we see prominent leaders doing worldwide.

By following the trends, we may be doing something truly radical.

So, here you will find an analysis of six different sources dealing with the global trends in leadership development. I did this analysis to understand how a leadership coach and consultant should think about her own work in response to these trends. I also thought it would be valuable for organisations to see if their own leadership development strategies are on par with world trends and how they should judge the value of various leadership development options. In the top row I identify the source from which the information was drawn. They have been organised from the most predominant trend to the least prevalent trend. Once you have taken the time to go through the analysis, you may read my interpretation for implementation afterwards.

Read the rest here…

What is applied performance?

What is applied performance?

Applied performance is a cross disciplinary field that uses performance process and practice, be it acting, music, dance or other forms of art, backed up by socio-political theory to address social and political issues. The purpose is to make a change and bring about sustainable transformation.

At Playing Mantis we have developed applied performance processes specifically suited to organisational change and development. Its rootedness in the arts ensures a holistic learning process that is experiential and that can bring about systemic change.

Delegates telling stories

Its use of narrative strategy and story telling also allows organisations to reframe their own narratives and reimagine their strategic objectives and ultimately their future. Applied performance is particularly valuable for culture change processes and is essential for organisations that are serious about transformation towards gender and racial equality.

Our applied performance model is called strategic narrative embodiment. The art forms that it most depends on is theatre, story-telling and improvisation sometimes inviting elements of visual art, dance and music. It functions on the levels of design and technique to help change makers create processes that really works. Read more.

Strategic Narrative Embodiment (SNE) in a nutshell

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SNE is inspired by the three elements of a story

Every story, fictional or real, consists of three elements:

  1. Someone who wants something
  2. Obstacles in their way
  3. An attempt to get what they want in spite of the obstacles.

Everybody wants something. It is what motivates them. Tapping into this motivation is important for every coach-facilitator. It is the key to engaging people in the work of sustainable change that is for the better (change for good). Every time you, as a coach or facilitator, enter into a relationship with a client, you start by clarifying what the client wants: their strategic intent. This is often informed by existing documents like value statements or strategic objectives. Once your mandate is clear, and you begin to work with the designated group or individual, you once again have to create a picture of the intent with the people in the room – including you as enabler of that intent. It sets the context for the work. Of paramount importance here is that this intent must be owned and influenced, or made sense of, by all stakeholders not only by the paying client. Everyone needs to be invested in the process.

From this point on, you embark on a journey together, led by the narrative design. You are attempting to get what you want together. You are living through a story, artfully shaped, but not controlled by you, the coach-facilitator. Along the way you and the delegates are going to encounter obstacles. However, because you are using embodied participation as your mode of enquiry, you are allowing an interaction between the narrative design and the embodied participation that mirrors reality. As delegates overcome the obstacles, they are practising for the times they will overcome them when they are back in the real world after the process is over.

Because you are working with a narrative design through embodied participation, you are also inviting into the space the stories about all the other times delegates have tried and failed to get what they want. In this way they are able to identify and reflect upon dominant and habitual narratives that may no longer be useful or practical. These are things that people believe or do in relation to the strategic intent that are not producing desired results but that they continue doing out of habit or conviction. The process is non-threatening and playful and allows delegates to experiment with alternative possibilities and solutions.

The SNE model

The diagram above shows the relationship between the narrative design of the workshop (represented by the horizontal process line) and a participant’s interaction with it through embodiment techniques (the vertical process line). The entire dynamic is contained by the original strategic intent of the workshop (the circle in the diagram). The centrifugal arrows indicate the new possibilities that are released when the unofficial, dominant or habitual narratives are fractured by the interaction between narrative design and embodied participation. The dotted and curved arrow indicates an emergent new narrative that arises as the more effective one in closing the gap between what delegates want (strategic intent) and what they have (embodied reality).

The strategic intent of SNE

SNE is designed for Shift, yet it believes that Shift is only possible in a particular way and because of how people open up to new ideas. It is informed by a particular learning philosophy and a certain understanding of how the brain works. For now, let us explain it by distinguishing SNE from other kinds of theatre-based learning systems like industrial theatre and storytelling skills or presentation skills

Usually when people hear we use drama or theatre processes in organisations, they immediately assume we do industrial theatre. We emphatically do not. Industrial theatre is like presentation skills, voice training and storytelling skills. All of them help people improve top-down communication from management to teams. SNE is designed to have multilevel, multi-stakeholder conversations in complex systems where leaders feel the need to hear from and listen to team members, where teams need to work together across functions and need to break down silos, and where collaboration, innovation and new direction is sought.

SNE is good for strategic planning, relationship selling, customer service, vision and values alignment and leadership development. It is great for organisation development and innovation, team development and facilitator training, but only in forward-thinking organisations where employee engagement, collaboration and a flattening of hierarchy are important themes. SNE addresses systemic problems and works on the level of relationships. It can address embodied reality, behaviour and action and move beyond words, ideas and dreams.

SNE is designed to close the gap between what we want and what we have, what we say and what we do.

An Ethical code for Applied Performance work in Organisational settings

Aligning with associates and clients with a shared set of values.

How many times have you experienced a values clash with a client or a fellow consultant when using applied performance techniques?

What you find here is a set of 7 values that had been work shopped with applied drama and applied improvisation practitioners who do work in organizational settings. Three different groups came together at three different occasions (two of them happened at our last Flying Pig sessions). We used a combination of embodied images, role play, conversation and systemic mapping to interrogate the meaning of each of these values sharing scenarios and stories to help us find the appropriate nuances. You are most welcome to comment, question and contribute to the conversation.

Playing Mantis and Associates Ethical guidelines

It is important to us that our associates and clients understand and resonate with our ethical approach and values. These can be articulated as follows:

1. Deep collaboration: We craft our work in deep collaboration with all stakeholders involved. We do not use the powerful tools of story and embodiment to ‘download’ information top down to participants. Rather, we create work that introduces ideas and then facilitate conversations to allow audience members to interrogate and make sense of those ideas for themselves. It is important to us to value the input of all stakeholders equally.

2. Sustainability of human relationships: Sustainability to us means that no process can be a fly by night affair. It requires relationship building, negotiation and development over time. We are deeply interested in the sustainability of the organisations that we support, which includes all of the human aspects of the employees and the wider stakeholder community that will inform the organisational culture.

3. Intersectional symbiosis: We support and enable leadership styles that seek to negotiate solutions between the organisation and the community, between management levels, between departments, sections and divisions, between leaders and workers, between skilled and unskilled labour so that all impacted parties benefit. This means that all parties also have to be willing to adapt and rework solutions based on intersectional input.

4. Intrinsic value and contribution: We support the notion that every individual and every social grouping has value and can contribute positively to the workings of an organisation and its health. This means that every person working in an organisation, and also the community outside the organisation that supports the individuals, have value and can contribute something unique to the organisation that the leaders may not be aware of at the outset. We work to surface and incorporate these in all the work we do.

5. Systemic awareness: We support the notion that every issue must be considered in relation to larger systemic influences and conditions. These include social, environmental, political, historical, strategic, legal and technological factors that may or may not be visible and recognised by stakeholders at the outset. We work to surface and acknowledge the effects of these in all the work we do.

6. Rigorous self reflexivity: We hold ourselves and everyone we work with accountable to honour their responsibilities and agreements they make. We train and support everyone involved in our projects to be self reflexive and able to see and consider their own perspectives and positioning in relation to those of the other stakeholders so that prejudice, egoism, nepotism, domination and corruption are never an option.

7. Responsible sharing of intellectual contributions: We value our intellectual property and yours. It is our livelihood. At the same time we want you to be able to use what you receive through interaction with our work and integrate it into your own. We also want others to find their way to the materials and use it. We therefore ask you to reference our work wherever possible in written or oral format if you use it explicitly or if your own work was adapted from ours. In all these cases please reference us as follows:

– State the nature of our influence e.g. taken from / inspired by / adapted from

– State the author or entity e.g. Playing Mantis People development Consultants / Petro Janse van Vuuren

– State the specific model/ tool /idea e.g. the SNE model / Moving Story Structure / Pig Catching process etc.

Examples:

“Inspired by Petro Janse van Vuuren’s SNE model.”

“Taken from Playing Mantis’s Moving Story Structure”

Online Facilitation of Applied Improvisation Exercises

A black squirrel from the side

Nine things I learned from Gwen Gordon and Erica Marx

After Christian and I facilitated an online session at the Applied Improvisation Network’s conference some weeks ago, Gwen Gordon contacted us to say that she also learned a few lessons doing this work – would we like to play together. On Tue this week, Erica Marx and I joined Gwen for a session of mutual learning. Here is what I took from the session:

  1. Zoom is a great platform, especially when used on a laptop. It offers various tools to play with including white board and breakout sessions. It is essential, though, that everyone plays on a laptop, rather than a tablet because the latter’s functionality is limited. For instance: I could not change my view from speaker view to gallery view (it may just be my own ignorance or inexperience). Gallery view is essential so that all participants can see each other.
  2. It may be fun to rename participants with playful names. Gwen likes to allow people to choose alternative names for themselves and use the zoom rename function to do so. This helps with distancing. As mentioned in our blog on online embodiment work, online processes can become very intimate and make participants feel vulnerable because the screen finds you where you are in your private home or office.
  3. Games where you pass on something from person to person work really well. Examples of this kind of game are the sound/energy ball and the gift circle. Because people do not appear on each other’s screens in the same order, Gwen gives each person a number and adds it to their name when they rename themselves at the start of the session.
  4. It works well to give people numbers as a way to establish an order for each exercise. Because you cannot organise people physically, establishing a response order is crucial. Christian and I usually establish an order by simply saying who goes after who (see a previous blog on online facilitation). Gwen cleverly uses numbers. The constraint of this is that, as someone who does not see well, I am better at remembering names than at following numbers that only appear visually on the screen. Still, it is worth trying, especially, as Gwen pointed out, when you have 22 people in the Zoom room.
  5. Games that build on each other are more fun and create greater connection across virtual space. We played ‘Yes lets’ in this way. Buttons (Gwen) would suggest an action ‘let’s melt’ and as we all melt, Squirrel’ (Erica) would suggest the we begin sizzling in the pot, and then Sideways (me) suggest that we begin to pop the corn etc. For some reason, I never played the game as one that builds, but rather as one that introduces a new action every time, but the building makes much more sense.
  6. You can use the features of online rooms to spark the invention of new games. Gwen invented a game where she asks all participants except two to strike a pose. The two remaining participants then comment on the gallery of images as though they are looking at a collection of artworks. In paired rhyme form, they then comment on the exhibition taking turns. This was hilarious
  7. Online processes can feed back into face to face sessions. Erica enjoyed commenting on how she might use the experience in the class she was about to teach after our session. The interplay between off line and online processes is a growth area. The switching between the two enriches both as we see well known exercises from a fresh perspective.
  8. The strategic edge offered by the SNE (strategic narrative embodiment) model. Applied Improvisation exercises are used by Gwen, and possibly many others, mostly to shift energy or to create a certain mindset for other work. I asked about the strategic use of the exercises as a way to work with content, and this seemed like a novel idea to my fellow players. Granted, we did not have a lot of time to get into it, but I know that in my own work, I use applied improv exercises to generate ideas for the very content we are working with, not only as a mood setter. We may, for instance, use the gift circle to name the gifts we received from a give session as way to reflect on our learning. Other times I have used the props game to generate ideas around solving a specific niggly issue. This strategic element stands out as being particular to my work. Want to learn more?
  9. Applied improvisation fits into the larger story design of a session. Another particular feature of my work that interested Gwen and Erica was the narrative nature of my session designs. I asked about how exercises might build on each other twards landing particular content. Again this seemed to my fellow players to be a new perspective. I think it is my applied drama training that has influenced this way of working. I design every session, on or off line, as a story arc. Starting with participants’ current realities, through moments of transition, tests and trials and sometimes playfully coming face to face with our own nemeses to return to the now, reflecting on our learning and thinking about the elixirs we are brining home. Want to learn more?

If you are interested in the strategic narrative aspects of improvisation, you may want to take the SNE course for coaches and facilitators. Our next face to face course is now in Oct 6-7 Oct for Module 1 and 13-14 Oct for Module 2. It happens in Johannesburg.

Alternatively, join us for our next online Flying Pig Catching series starting 16 Nov in the Zoom room near you.

Many thanks to Gwen and Erica for such fruitful playing!!

Also read:

Principles for doing online facilitation and embodiment

Change how you coach and facilitate with SNE

Where does Strategic Narrative Embodiment Techniques (SNETs) come from?

The heart of Strategic Narrative Embodiment (SNE)

 

Let’s solve the world’s problems in 90 minutes flat!

IODA Flourish conference 2017

What happens when we change the rules for how we interact with each other?

Industrial psychologist, Burgert Kirsten, and I will be hosting a workshop at the International Organisation Development Association (IODA)) conference in Cape Town this coming week.

The theme of the conference

THRIVING THROUGH DIVERSITY

The role and form of OD in embracing diversity in organisational, systemic and social change

We are planning a high energy action orientated, playful investigation of the systemic powers that perpetuate inequality, othering and injustice.

Our topic is:

Solving the world’s problems in 90 minutes flat – Applied improvisation for Social innovation

Objectives:

  • Creating a climate for risk taking
  • Making it safe to differ.
  • Playing with unusual roles, identities and actions.
  • Taking diversity challenges head on.
  • Moving from conversation that control to conversations that connect.
  • Addressing the systemic forces that perpetuate othering.

Here is a short video to a predecessor of the work we will present at the IODA/Flourish! conference.

The outline of our proposed session is as follows:

S – Setting the strategic intention

What are the problems in the world we want to solve and why are they so hard to address?

Improv rules are used to change how we are together so that we can change default behaviours and become aware of our interaction choices.

T – Transitional exercises’

Applied improv games that push the boundaries of race, gender class etc. in a fun and playful way allowing reflection on our boundaries and how they function.

Choosing the problems (2 or 3) we will take on today. (processes that identify the system of interactions that govern these problems.

O – Open experimentation

Using Strategic Narrative Embodiment techniques based on Boal’s image theatre and systems thinking to build models of the problem systems. Activating them to see how they function and playing with alternatives to try and change them.

R – Reflection

We reflect on the meaning of the experiments for each of us and for our work and other communities.

I – integration

We choose and ‘rehearse’ alternative actions that we can take to change our stories and our systems relating to the problems we see in the world.

Practical information/skills/tools participants will gain from this session

  • How to change the rules of an encounter.
  • Exercises that create conversation about barriers and boundaries between people.
  • A system awareness of power relationships.
  • An introduction to frameworks and techniques that address these barioiurs and boundaries.
  • Tools for moving beyond talking, towards taking action.

We are indeed privileged to present at this conference and looking forward to the collaboration and connection with other OD practitioners.

How does one use embodiment in online rooms?

Session at Applied Improvisation Network conference

(update: Literatur on Emodiment also in online rooms,  WriteUp of the session; and a video of the session – see this post)

My friend and collaborator Christian and I will be presenting a session at the Applied Improvisation Network’s annual conference next Sunday 27 August. To me it is a kind of dream come true. This will be the third time I attempt to attend the AIN conference in some way. The last two attempts failed because for various reasons I was unable to make the trip. This year, though, Christian and I solved half the problem.

We will be attending the conference from the comfort of our home offices.

He is in Austria, I am in South Africa and we will meet together online and on screen to present a conference session in California!

I say half the problem, because, while we get to present and interact for an hour, we still do not get to attend and connect with all the other wonderful contributors and players. Next time!

Our topic: How does one use embodiment in online rooms?

Over the past two years Christian and I have been offering online pig catching sessions and learned a number of important principles for doing embodied exercises online. I have colleagues who do not believe it can be done and when I challenge them, they say: “I am sure something essential gets lost.”

Well, we have found that there is a unique kind of intimacy that develops online when people play together – a kind distinctly different in quality than when you work with someone offline. Part of the reason is because you see yourself on the screen interacting and this creates a certain vulnerability that adds to the connection.

To engage the imagination through the body  requires some innovation when working online.  We found ways to use the unique feature of online rooms to access the imagination and people’s creativity in fresh and unexpected ways.

We have discovered how to contain the work when there is no physical room within which to contain activities and relationships.

We have found out how to bridge the divides between participants and build playfulness and connection in new ways.

All these insights will be shared at the conference on Sunday morning and I look forward to sharing some of the principles here in a blog or two soon.

For the curious, here is our conference abstract:

An important aspect of Applied Improvisation is using and perceiving the body: your own and those of others in the room. It therefore seems logical, that “room” is a physical construct, a place with enough space to move and also to rest.

In a connected world “rooms” in the World Wide Web are part of the reality of more and more people: 3,6 Billion people have direct access to the internet, which is about half of the world population. Especially in Europe (over 70 percent of the population) and North America (nearly 90 percent) using the Internet is a part of daily life. An important aspect in the still growing numbers of direct users is mobile access to the internet via smart devices.

Internet “rooms” are used more and more often to learn together, to plan projects and them into action step by step. Topics are not only “tech related” – they are also about facilitating, coaching, developing various kinds of people, individually and in groups. Live online tools are often used in these contexts. They enable participants to hear and see each other. Nonverbal communication is a key aspect of Applied Improvisation. It is also a key aspect of live online rooms.

In our contribution we will summarize studies on using embodiment in settings enabled  by technology. We will present different improvisation methods that can be used in online settings highlighting its effects on collaboration and interaction on one hand and  and on personal development on the other.

Facilitators

Dr. Petro Janse van Vuuren, petro@playingmantis.net, Playing Mantis and Drama for Life, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Applied drama researcher and practitioner, coach and consultant.

Christian F. Freisleben, christian.freisleben@improflair.at, Halftime: St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences (Didactics in Higher Education, E-Learning); teacher, trainer, journalist in the fields of education, health care and social affairs

[1] Http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm (14. 11. 2016)

Africa may soon be digitally connected but can we put ourselves on the world economic map?

You are invited to catch flying pigs with usFlying Pig

Face to face Pig Catching in Johannesburg
TOPIC: Engaging Africa
DATE: Fri 26 May
TIME: 8:30-11:30 – experience (Please come on time for coffee or tea, we start at 8:30 sharp.)
12:00-13:00 reflecting on the methodology
PLACE: 19th floor University Corner Building Corner of Jan Smuts and Jorissen Braamforntein.
FACILITATOR: Janet du Preez
COST: R250
DRESS: Comfortable clothes you can stretch and move in
RSVP: by  Wed 24 Mayto petro@playingmantis.net

Upcoming dates: Fri 25 Aug and Fri 1 Dec.

Online Pig Catching
TOPIC: Engaging Africa
DATE:19, 22 and 26 June (Mon, Thu and Mon)
TIME: 20:00-21:15 – experience
PLACE: a ZOOM room (we will send link)
FACILITATOR: Janet du Preez
COST: R250 or $20
RSVP by Thu 15 Jum to petro@playingmantis.net

More on the topic
As a continent we may soon be digitally connected but can we be cohesively engaged to put ourselves on the world economic map?

Our pig for this session is the engagement of Africa.
Using Strategic Narrative Embodiment and the Dynamic Engagement Framework we will explore:

  • How engagement changes outcomes
  • The role of trust in engagement
  • The character and faces of trust
  • How we foster trust

Are we mad? Maybe a little!
Does this matter? Yes!
Can we be the agents of continental change? Why not?

 – by Janet du Preez who will be co-hosting Pig Catching sessions in February and March.

About Janet du Preez
2017-04
Janet du Preez is a friend and accomplished flying pig catcher. she says about the SNE tools: “The SNE processes are a vital addition to my toolkit because of their creativity and impact. I am constantly seeking new ways to engage whole people in transformational journeys. SNE processes encourage new encounters with beliefs, thoughts, emotions, relationships and behaviours. When people engage themselves and engage with themselves in unexpected ways they learn and grow. We will not see change in the conditions in Africa until we transform who we are as Africans. We need every possible tool at our disposal to enable us to transform if we are to change our trajectory. SNE is a particularly powerful tool.”

Janet is a versatile leadership and organisational effectiveness practitioner and a passionate, provocative and creative thinker. A strategic people developer and engagement protagonist, she is constantly alert for good people, good ideas and good systems which can be made even more effective.  Janet uses her well-honed coaching, facilitation, process development and strategic consulting skills to engage talent, passion, insight and action in pursuit of great leadership and effective systems. She is completing an MSc through the da Vinci Institute developing a universal integrated sense-making framework for engagement in organisations.

About Pig Catching

Pig catching is what coaches and facilitators do when we chase the moment of insight that brings shift and transformation in our clients.
Please note: No pigs get harmed, our pigs are purely metaphorical and they have wings.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?

Coaches, facilitators, game changers, thought leaders like you who can accept the following
1        This is not a showcase or sales event geared to impress or win you over. If you come, you already believe that metaphor, embodiment, improvisation and imagination are powerful, fun ways to bring about transformation and you want to know more about using them in coaching and facilitation.
2        Experimentation and mistakes are part of the process.  You must be willing to play with ideas that may not work or may be a bit uncomfortable, but that could lead to new heights of freedom and insight.

Join our group on Facebook:

Upcoming dates: Fri 25 Aug and Fri 1 Dec.

WE’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO BEING INSPIRED BY YOU. OINK!

More Story-Strategy for trainers and facilitators (and coaches)

shutterstock_72734719A good workshop design, like a good story:

S      helps people see their Situation in a new light and Summons them to new possibilities

T       Guides them across a Threshold full of Terrors—Facing their fears

     Provides Obstacles  and OBSTACLES as they journey through tests that challenge skill and paradigms.

R       Rewards their bravery and hear their commitments as they Return to their work-life.

      Supports them in Integrating their learning into their Identity so they transform their world.

…     Remembers that the story never ends and that no facilitator can completely control another’s journey.

For more detail on this model click here.

The success of trusted workshop processes lie in their ability to guide participants successfully across the two thresholds.  First from their current situation through the barrier of their resistance and fear into the landscape of your workshop filled with insights, theories and skills development. Secondly over the threshold back to their own realities armed with new tools, skills and understanding with which to face their recurring patterns of thinking.

Most workshop processes are really good at helping people cross the first threshold. Few get the second threshold crossed successfully. That is because most of us do not have the luxury to remain with our clients as they return to work or life. If you can offer them a coaching programme, or some kind of follow-up support system online, you have a better chance.

But what if you could cross this threshold In the Workshop?

Play it out in a safe space

Applied theatre processes like Applied Improvisation, Theatre for the Oppressed, Embodied Reflective Practice and Theatre for Development all use the power of embodiment and action to help people ‘rehearse for their futures’ (Augusto Boal). By using processes that require people to play out the learning, they get the opportunity to try out new ways of being in a safe environment before they have to go back into the ‘real’ world.

Play it out with your whole body, brain, heart and guts

Applied theatre processes also involve the whole of a person: not just the whole brain, but also the whole heart, body and gut feelings. As if this is not enough, it also involves a community: learning with others. The doing, playing, laughing interacting and learning that happens when people play together helps to access more parts of a human being and creates more opportunities for deep learning on core value level.

This is one of the main reasons that Applied Improvisation is taking off as a leading- edge workshop methodology and why it works so well with Story-Strategy (as summarised by the STORI… model) for designing workshops. The way in which both AI and Story-Strategy can navigate participants across the first and second thresholds  is also the reason why coaches find Applied Improvisation such a handy set of skills and tools and why Story-Strategy help them to structure their coaching programmes. Coaching itself functions to lead people over both thresholds, but especially the second one.

Catch Playing Mantis and Raymond van Driel at the Applied Improvisation Network’s annual conference in Austin Texas!!

You might also be interested in:

S.T.O.R.I… – A strategy using story principles for Trainers and Facilitators

P.L.A.Y.! – A summary of Improvisation principles for Trainers and Facilitators

Podcast interview with Petro Janse van Vuuren (PhD) on Story-Strategy.

Podcast interview with Raymond van Driel on AI and the PLAY! model.

Trainer workshops in South Africa, click here.

Coaching contact Petro in Johannesburg, Burgert in Cape Town and Raymond in the Netherlands.

The Applied Improvisation Network Click here.

AIN conference Train the trainer workshop Click here.