Like many of you, our team has spent the last few months completely re-imagining and redesigning our business model to serve our clients in the online environment. We never would have guessed that we’d be able to make so much progress and evolve so quickly… and it’s all the result of an aligned and purpose-driven team!
Traditionally, our XCHANGE training programs were delivered in a 5-day, in-person, immersive and experiential learning environment like no other! We had to quickly design new ways of delivering a high quality online training experience, without sacrificing the high quality our customers had come to expect.
At this point we’ve successfully delivered three, 3-day ONLINE XCHANGE Experience (OXE) training sessions that have equipped over 200 leaders, change agents, coaches and consultants in our XCHANGE methodology. Our next session is July 8-9-10 and we love being able to iterate and improve the experience every time!
Now that our training programs are running smoothly online, we’ve shifted our focus back to digital summit design… how to create successful, system level transformations in an online environment, where teams are dispersed across time and space. It’s been a challenge, but we’re starting to deliver this work online as well and the early results we’re seeing are phenomenal!
The framework we apply to design and deliver system level transformation initiatives, both online and in-person, is called the 5-I Framework and in this post, we’ll break down the five different steps.
During this pre-event planning stage we work closely with the client to answer several key questions. Most importantly, we need to identify the task at hand and target outcomes of the event. There needs to be a very good understanding of and alignment on the problem or opportunity we’ll be addressing. The main questions we ask are:
- Why is this important to the organization or community, those it serves and its broader stakeholder mix?
- What are we trying to achieve or accomplish and what are the outcomes that would make this event a huge success for all involved?
- Who needs to attend this event to be sure we have a diverse representation of the “whole system” and all stakeholder voices are included?
Another important output of this step is the Affirmative Topic Selection, which is one of the most important tasks for the leadership team when designing a system level transformation initiative. The affirmative topic selection will serve as the initiative’s task, title, headline or banner statement. It is absolutely essential that the task be clear, simply articulated and adhered to during the time of the summit. It should be positively framed and emphasize what the organization wishes to create or accomplish, not what it wants to avoid or solve.
We often encourage the formation of a Leadership Team to serve as a committee to help drive the pre-planning process and who will then sometimes assist during the main event as co-facilitators. This approach can be positioned as a valuable learning and leadership development opportunity for members of this planning team.
Where the initiate phase is typically work that gets done before engaging the rest of the organization in the program, the Identity phase is the first step where the broader group of event participants become involved. During the identity phase, we help our clients connect to and amplify the collective and individual strengths of their system, both in the past and the present.
The outputs generated during the Identity phase often include:
- Creating a shared sense of purpose and organizational identity
- Creating shared values or guiding work principles
- Creation of an organizational strengths map
- Sharing stories of when and where the organization has been at its best and what can be learned from those stories
This is a crucial step in the process, creating deep connections among the participants and a solid foundation for the remaining stages of the transformation initiative. The identity phase creates positivity, confidence and momentum for the work that lies ahead!
The Imagine phase is perhaps the most exciting and exhilarating for both the participants and the initiative sponsors. The Imagine phase invites the system to “stand in the future” together and imagine what success looks like. This is a very powerful and unifying experience, where we invite the participants to envision the best of what could be and tap into the creativity that lives inside each one of us.
The outputs from the Imagine phase include:
- Co-created future visions
- Identification of major opportunity areas or strategic priorities
Future visions are co-created using a team synthesis process and presentation format. This is a divergent process that creates a multitude of ideas and identifies where the organization has the most energy to contribute resources.
A follow up to the divergent process is typically a convergent exercise where the leadership team or core stakeholders identify what are the few opportunity areas that will be brought into the next phase of the process for the system to innovate around.
During the Innovate phase we harness the power of Design Thinking to engage participants in a high energy design process which drives a number of different outcomes. The Innovate phase asks the question “How might we…” create the future we just imagined and includes several steps:
- Ideation: our unique, one conversation style brainstorming approach allows groups to rapidly generate and build on ideas around the key opportunity areas or strategic initiatives.
- Prototype: Participants are invited to self-select into smaller design groups and given a micro-training on the basics of Design Thinking. Next, they are asked to unleash their creativity and innovate solutions through different methods of prototyping.
- Present: Design teams then present their prototypes and ideas to the larger group, who capture key ideas, identify themes and offer constructive feedback on how the team might continue to build on their design.
- Iterate: If time allows, design teams are given another opportunity to incorporate feedback and further creativity into their models before presenting another iteration.
It is always incredible to watch this innovation process unfold and impressive how much can be accomplished in a short amount of time by a team that is energized through our process.
Parts of the Implement phase take place during the event, but much of this stage also occurs after the event is completed and the organization must assume the task of executing on what has been created through the process.
Teams are again invited to work collaboratively to create high level action plans that identify several key elements of the ongoing planning and execution process:
- What measurable outcomes would indicate success?
- What resources, skills, tools, people and partners would be paramount to help us succeed?
- What are 3 to 5 short term action steps we can take, who is responsible and when will they be completed?
- Who might be good Co-champions or Volunteers / Team members to support this project?
At a minimum, we harness the energy of the group to identify the key elements above, but can go even further with the teams to create more detailed implementation plans, depending on the scope of the engagement.