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The New Practice of Structured Visual Thinking


Changing the way we Change

EXCITING TIMES We are reaching a new period in our Practice, one with a new model for engagement that comes with new commitments to delivering value - and equally new conditions set for the work that we will take on. We are a Practice that delights in constant discovery and exploration and in inventing new frameworks and tools to drive out the very best thinking, tackle and organise complexity and create new meaning and therefore potential and opportunity. When we release ourselves from the past and the way we have typically delivered to clients we can see that there are a variety of ways that we can reach teams - that offer opportunities to reach more people, create more impact and achieve greater success.

Welcome to our Manifesto for Meaningful and Authentic Change

We have been thinking For a long time now we’ve witnessed clients seeking to change or improve in some way and not achieving it. We don’t believe it’s because they don’t want to but because various conditions stack against them and the tools and techniques we’ve used haven’t addressed the full extent of what it takes to make an outcome sustainable.

Because we are passionate about creating valuable outcomes this has preoccupied us a lot. So we reviewed what we felt was actually valuable. Value is in the eye of the beholder. Value is that unit of worth that can be recognised at a key point or moment. In our world that’s a considerable variable. It’s no secret that value is different for everyone. It emerges at different points in time and from a wide range of things. It’s that very variability that drove us to review literally everything we do and how we do it.

It has also forced us to challenge the nature of our engagement and conversation with clients and partners. 2

“The definition of an ‘insight’ suggests the capacity to discern the true nature of a given situation”


Thinking Dierently About Delivering Value

Every single organisation has its own uniqueness and we see that manifest itself in their attitudes, their preferences, their ambitions, their challenges, their environment and their work ethos. Everyone who comes to us to discuss a possible engagement has some kind of challenge or opportunity. Ultimately they simply want to be better, more successful or make progress in their chosen discipline or industry. Historically we would start to talk about a program with a quick start, a short, sharp exposure to a snapshot in time and a simple deliverable of some sort. If you think about it these ‘Programs’ - fixed plans that contains a series of events and activities to achieve an end goal - are unlikely to properly accommodate the discovery that they will unearth. As a result we are abandoning them in favour of engagements based on far more meaningful relationships with the client together with a highly flexible portfolio of approaches that can be arranged at each step. 4


INNOVATION In every case we’ve ever worked on - where there is a challenge to be addressed or change is needed - there’s something within the organisation either holding them back


It boils down to a few fundamentals that are not given the time and attention they deserve, if indeed they ever were. It’s what consistently marks them out as shining examples (that everyone quotes) of the benchmark for an expression of ‘excellence’ - at least the one that’s currently most valued All are just words with very little shared meaning and while many pay homage to them we observe the achieving of them falling very short and the c o m m i t m e n t t o t h e m i s l a rg e l y superficial.



WE HAVE SEEN AND LEARNED A LOT We have now spent 15 years working with teams across many industries and different types of organisation and we have witnessed many attempts at solving a wide range of ‘exam questions’. Our model has always been based on a philosophy that we believe in wholeheartedly - one where objectivity and critical thinking run through everything and where we aim to pass on as much insight and new thinking and therefore new capability - as we can. The idea being that we leave teams better equipped to achieve what they desire. This rested on a belief that we could reduce the dependency and therefore cost and time of our involvement and transfer the ability to sustain to those who we believed were best placed to take on this responsibility.

Our Dilemma A significant part of the process has In theory we have equipped that team

We know that we can get a team to a new place in a very compressed time frame - a place where they are re-engaged, more inspired, clearer about their chosen direction and more appreciative of the business as a whole - as opposed to their particular ‘silo’.

always been a group ‘intervention’ - with a new way of thinking about how a workshop, sometimes a series of to tackle their challenges and think workshops - where we facilitate more strategically and more critically m e a n i n g f u l a n d m o re c re a t i v e themselves.

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conversations - about the things that organisations should be talking about The alternative to this is an ongoing every day. They may talk about these dependence on external consultants things every day but they seldom give to do your thinking for you and for the themselves the ‘luxury’ of time to life of us we couldn’t understand why engage across functions, departments, anyone would want to do that business units, partners, stakeholders - especially when there is so much all the vital ‘players’ and ‘contributors’ evidence to show that the only real who ultimately make or break the winner is the company providing the success of any venture.

‘guns for hire’. The reality however was that far too many of the teams that we worked with left us with the best of intentions and promises to sustain the work but very quickly - surprisingly quickly found themselves ‘sucked back’ into an environment unable or unwilling to embrace a new way of thinking and



We have been thinking long and hard about this dilemma. It is a very real dilemma for us because the obvious answer is to sim ply design longer programmes and stay with teams longer - making us no different to the traditional consulting model, one that we fundamentally disagree with. As we launch our new model we are focusing on three quite distinct forms of engagement. Each is designed to suit specific situations and circumstances and each can be ‘packaged’ in a variety of ways. The manner in which we shape an engagement will be directly influenced by some important criteria that will show us just what really need to be done. We will only recommend engagements that will actually deliver results and we will decline engagements where we feel the necessary conditions are not met or that we simply don't think we can deliver lasting value. 8

A New Design These engagements are designed to get the heart of any challenge - to spend whatever time it takes to get to the real insights and to establish a coherent architecture for the business and the way it operates so that it is fully in control of its destiny and is following a much more resilient approach. At times this will require us to work closely with a small team,

The freedom and flexibility that comes with these engagements

possibly individuals to ensure that progress is achievable. At

brings it's own reward - it's far more natural and and far more

other times we will need to work a specific problem right through

likely to yield far more value. We like that we can dig deep

from identification to resolution. Sometimes we will be helping to

into complexity and get to what really matters in a far more

reconnect people to genuine purpose at large scale.

human and natural way and in a way that the whole team can appreciate and engage with.

These engagements will cover the potential sticking points that are most likely to cause an endeavour to fail. We have been thinking about all of this for a long time - we are now ready to make this a reality. What follows is a high level introduction to the new model for Group Partners. We will be happy to discuss any aspect of this in more detail. This is still a journey for us and we will continue to evolve the model as we learn how to create even more value for organisations.


A new approach brings with it new principles for engagement along with the criteria mentioned earlier. Our aim has never been to unnecessarily widen our role simply to create work and maximum revenue. In this model we might even be able to reduce the overall cost through the different forms of engagement described in the next section - for example taking on more of a mentoring or remote advisory role. This way we can reduce the extensive or larger cost associated with sessions in situations where there are much more effective and appropriate ways to achieve the right result.


This will take 2 f or ms We already invest a significant amount of time and energy before

1. We will facilitate a discussion that tests need, intention and

being formally engaged to define the best approach for a client.

motivation. This will be conducted remotely through structured questions that are relevant to the likely engagement and phone /

Currently this takes more time than makes sense while we cycle

online conversations

discussion about cost and scope rather than value and outcome. 2. We will gift up to one day for working with a small group to This is not helpful to us or our clients so in future we will commit time

shape the optimum engagement. This day will not be spent on any

at our expense to work with those with decision making authority to

potential solution, it will be wholly dedicated to making sure that

share the right programme and to understand the nature of the

there is a common understanding and appreciation of the challenge,

investment required and acceptable.

what it means and how we will support you. 11

We will present a documented proposal and with it our point of view on that topic. This proposal will detail the engagement and our commitment to

There will be an element of capability transfer in every

you. We will indicate a ‘base level’ scope that represents the

engagement and

that will be

minimum we can do to create a meaningful outcome. We will also

clearly defined in

t h e

include additional contributions and describe the value you can


expect from them. Any engagement will be designed so that it is possible to commit to the minimum initially and build onto it later if needed.



There is significant variability within these three primary forms of engagement. Each is designed to suit a wide spectrum of needs and challenges and every engagement is tailored to suit exact needs and circumstances. We very much hope that you agree this is a valuable evolution in the way to think about the exchange of value.


Unplugged - Intellectual Workouts Being ‘Unplugged’ is about helping leaders spend quality time thinking more deeply and more creatively about a challenge or opportunity. Unplugged means just that - intelligent conversation in small and safe environments - the conditions to have the right sometimes difficult - conversations, ones that get to the heart of what leaders should be thinking about. Unplugged is focussed on leaders - individuals or small groups -

Example Applications: Thinking about the future, Wrestling with issues and direction, imagining major changes,

spending time exploring issues and dynamics - discussing what’s really driving the challenges and identifying better ways to respond to them. We bring insights and real experiences that relate to such challenges and we share stories of how others deal with them - as well as introducing new concepts and ways of thinking to address them. Unplugged expects leaders to dedicate quality uninterrupted time

Contemplating progress, Reflecting on the way things are, Making sure we are doing everything possible to stay in the lead,

and commit to open and honest conversation where nothing is out of bounds. This time can be spent in a range of environments but is never at the workplace. The only criteria for where we meet is that it inspires thinking and is protected from daily stresses and interruptions. 15

Simply wanting to be the best we can be.

On A Quest - Purposeful Collaborations Quests require clear purpose and commitment from all those undertaking them - whatever the degree they are involved. For a

Example Applications:

Quest to be successful everyone who has a part to play must understand the end goal and have belief in it. We will work with a dedicated team - who are willing to take on the challenge - and who will be given enough time and authority to be successful. You will provide the participants and full commitment and we will provide the equipment, our objectivity and experience. The desired outcome will be the sole determiner for the programme and it's duration. Our involvement through the quest is variable and

Tackling a key issue or opportunity, Putting real energy and effort into achieving a given challenge, Getting a team totally focussed, aligned and inspired to achieve a given goal,

dependent on the teams confidence and capability. There will be some well defined milestones to chart achievement and plenty of reviews, regroups and adjustments along the way As a team we will assess what good likes like and how we will know we have made it - and as a team we will work towards that shared ambition. There will be distinct roles and accountabilities that reflect individual strengt hs and capabilities but all measurement and governance will work at the collective level. This is a single minded engagement. 16

Embarking on a mission to develop a specific part of the business, Solving a specific issue or introducing a new level of excellence in a particular domain

Engaged - High Energy Campaigns At key times the wider workforce needs to be involved in the delivery of change or in achieving a Quest. Unless everyone in an organisation is clear about the aims and objectives of its business and is willing to contribute to the attainment of a vision and it's ongoing sustainment - then success cannot be assumed. Engagement campaigns take vision and intention out on the road - to the people who will ultimately make or break success. They are a mix of whatever is needed - survey, interviews, road shows, interactive

Example Applications: Creating wide scale impact, Bringing change to the whole enterprise, Engaging and building energy around a genuine shift in the business, Truly transforming the way things need to be achieved,

communications - whatever it takes to win hearts and minds. These engagements can only take place where there is absolute clarity on purpose and a direction has been set - one that can be explained and is supported by a convincing rationale.


Taking the new vision or strategy out from the design team to the whole team

The Group Partners Commitment First and foremost, our commitment is to be wholly on your side and to work with those who are tasked with a challenge to deliver the best outcome possible. Whatever that takes. We will dig deep into context for insights and we will challenge any temptation to cut corners or to take information at face value. We will test your ambitions by pushing thinking as far as is comfortable and reasonable - which will depend on the type of organisation you are and the business you are in. In all circumstances however we will introduce creative thinking We will force meaning to everything that forms part of your organisation’s intention and vision. We will break down silos and help you to align models, objectives and contributions across the business so that you see greater coherence.


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Changing The Way We Change  

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