Facilitating Change More Effectively: Two Key Turning Points

By: Carol McClelland

While attending my first Emerge Leadership workshop, I was very intrigued by the emphasis on change technology and practice in the EMERGE Leadership Model. Although I’ve spent much of my career studying how people navigate personal transitions, the workshop led me to ask new questions.
• How does my Seasons of Change model  apply to change at a group/community/organizational level?

• How might understanding the Seasons of Change approach to change help sustainability professionals facilitate change more effectively?
For several years I’ve been thinking about the kinds of mindset shifts we (individuals and organizations) must experience to invite / request / require / demand more sustainable projects. But after the Emerge Leadership Workshop, I realized that there are two key turning points that evoke shifts in one’s mindset.
Turning Point #1: Recognizing that change is happening or needs to happen – Until the individuals and group realize that something needs to change, nothing will happen. No matter how hard you try, your actions won’t have any impact if the people you are working with aren’t able to see that change needs to happen or is already happening.

The topic at hand could be as broad as a conversation about climate change and its effects or it could be as specific as something related to the project you are facilitating. One of the keys to facilitating change is to support the group or organization in recognizing and acknowledging that change is unfolding.
What can we do to evoke this knowing that change needs to happen? That what has come before is no longer a viable option? That business as usual is no longer a sustainable option?

Turning Point #2: Uncovering a new solution to a problem or situation – When everyone acknowledges that change is called for, the next turning point occurs when the group begins to surface brand new, innovative solutions that they couldn’t have seen earlier. To facilitate this turning point, it’s essential for all members of the group to let go of the old stories of what they’ve tried, what hasn’t worked, and what they need. For many this is a difficult task because it’s all they’ve known.
And yet, when they release the old stories and sit in the unknown, new ideas begin to spark–ideas that may bring in a new perspective, new combinations, or even new understandings of “the problem” itself.
What can we do to help participants step beyond what they’ve known? To enter a place of not-knowing that frees them to expand their perspective and spark their creativity?
These two turning points are distinct phases of the transition cycle that are both essential in bringing about significant change. Recognizing where your client organization is in the transition cycle can show you how best to support them in gaining momentum with their project.
I plan to continue my exploration of how the Seasons of Change can provide insights to sustainability professionals. I’ll keep you posted as I make more discoveries.

Carol McClelland, PhD, author of Seasons of Change and Green Careers For Dummies attended the EMERGE Leadership Workshop at the Marin Headlands in Sausalito, California in January 2013. For the past twenty years, Carol has provided professional transition guidance through coaching and workshops, with a recent emphasis on sustainable career development. Carol’s Season of Change model offers a highly accessible opportunity to drill deeper into the change element of the EMERGE Leadership Model, in particular understanding (and addressing) the common detours individuals and organizations make during a “season” of change. In a recent EMERGE Alumni Clinic in San Francisco, we explored how to apply the Season of Change model to the outset of an integrated design process.