Blog2018-09-18T21:47:21+00:00

Liminal Pathways Blog

A Year of Leading Change with The Metropolitan Council – An Invitation

Gisela & David introduce the Grove’s facilitation model.

Recently as part of my role at The Grove Consultants International, I had the opportunity to work with the Metropolitan Council  in the twin city of Minnesota to them help them develop their internal process and change leadership capability. I partnered with David Sibbet and together we designed and co-led a one-year Leading Change Program for 20 of their emerging leaders. The program was successful all around and we feel encouraged to offer it again.

Below is a look inside the program and what we did to embed it into the organization in order to build capacity by addressing existing change challenges the organization was already facing. If this approach, learning by doing and doing by learning, resonates with you, and you would like to support such a program within your organization or are interested in participating in a public offering of this program, we invite you to write to us.

Our Client

The Metropolitan Council is a regional body, overseeing all of Minneapolis-St. Paul’s wastewater, transit system, housing projects, […]

Harvesting Liminal Songlines – Honoring the Aboriginal Tradition of Australia

Uluru at Dusk, Central Desert, Australia

This past fall I went live with my new website giselawendling.com and blog Liminal Pathways. Liminal Pathways is also the title of a framework I have developed based on my evolving understanding of rites of passages as an archetypal framework for understanding human systems change. The word liminal comes from the Latin and means threshold or margin. It alludes to the in-between period in a change process where we are no longer the old and not yet the new, when the transformative process is the most active. The Liminal Pathways blog features essays on this topic.

In this post I introduce 13 essays that are very special to me and which I originally wrote for my Liminal Songlines blog. I these essays I reflect on my experiences exploring the spiritual healing tradition of the Aboriginal people of Australia while I was living there from 2009 to 2012. I write about the timeless wisdom of the Aboriginal people, their ceremonial practices and art, what they can teach us about relating to the land, and how […]

The Challenge of Changing Culture: Promise and Perils

I have been thinking a lot about how organizational cultures change and the challenges that are part of adopting and developing new cultural practices and norms. It is clear to me that culture change requires attention over time, reflecting on what is working and what is not, and a co-creative approach to help make it stick. But I have a cautionary tale about imposing processes that we believe in on people who aren’t ready.

This is a story from my years teaching at Sonoma State University, when I first began teaching a core curriculum course in humanistic psychology to undergraduate students. This was when I encountered an interesting culture change challenge, symbolized by moving chairs.  […]

October 25th, 2018|Change, Culture|0 Comments

Creating a Culture of Collaboration and Change at a College of Business Administration

Recently I teamed up with Laurie Durnell, The Grove’s co-president, to design and facilitate a visioning and culture development process with the College of Business Administration at Cal Poly Pomona. The college of six academic departments and more than 5,000 students needed to move beyond a culture of silos, update some of its administrative processes, and address what seemed to be a lack of opportunities for innovation. As the college was getting ready to celebrate its 50th anniversary and was shifting from a quarter-based to two-semester-based system, the timing was ripe for a major renewal process.

This is a story of how change methodology, dialogic practice, and visual facilitation combined to achieve a successful result, symbolized by the completed Grove Storymap® (see above).

Launching the Project

Our first step in the process was getting clear on the specific objectives. The dean of the college, Dr. Erik Rolland, asked us to:

  • Support the college to move beyond a culture of silos to become a culture that more fully embraces change, collaboration and innovation;
  • Develop a strategic vision […]

Facilitating a Vision & Change Alignment Process for the University of California – Merced

Here is a case study written for The Grove Journal about one of several whole-systems change projects I have been co-leading with David Sibbet and other Grove consultants.

Driven by economics and demand, the University of California’s newest campus in Merced is expected to double in size by 2020. No fewer than 72 change projects faced Michael Reese, vice chancellor of Business Administration, in 2016 when he engaged The Grove’s Gisela Wendling, Ph.D., and David Sibbet to facilitate a campus-wide 2020 Visioning and Change Alignment Process.

The process combined large-scale strategic-change consulting, visual facilitation, Grove Storymapping®, and interactive-network technology in a series of large summit meetings with faculty, staff and students. The meetings were guided by a Change Alignment Team (CAT) of top project managers led by Reese and the former dean of the School of Engineering, Erik Roland.

At Chancellor Dorothy Leland’s insistence, the process streamed real-time to students, staff and faculty who couldn’t attend the face-to-face meetings. An interactive platform provided by Grove partner Covision allowed virtual and in-person table groups to share the same […]

Reflections on Racism and the Possibility of Social Healing

Reflections on Racism

Recently I attended a ‘dialogue on race’ which my friend and colleague Ronita Johnson hosted. Somewhat by surprise, it led me to reflect on how my understanding and experience with racism, as someone born and raised in Germany, might be quite different from those who were born and raised here in the Unites States.

Many participants, both people of color and white people, shared stories of their earliest experience of racism. We also talked about American slavery, the current presidential elections, black pride, the police shootings, and other injustices that African Americans experience. We discussed the notion of race as an anthropological construction and racism as a symptom of a power system that is rigged toward the advantages of a few.

I walked away from this dialogue feeling quite stirred up and touched by the often heart-wrenching personal stories that were shared. “Is racism really about color, or is it about maintaining structural inequality so that a few can profit?” Questions are like doorways and guides for learning; I took this […]

August 17th, 2016|Culture, Dialogue, Social Change|2 Comments

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