Game-changing conversations.

Purpose

We are driven by a desire to facilitate the deep transformation of our clients.

We do so by simplifying and freeing-up how people cooperate.

Our craft is game-changing conversations.


*Our name is inspired by Etienne de La Boétie who was a 16th century French philosopher whose famous work « Discourse against voluntary servitude » urged people not to abandon freedom and give up power to their rulers.

Our work

Our clients live through development cycles.

Change stirs up uncertainty and tensions.

We concentrate on moments that matter.

TRANSFORMING ORGANISATIONS

LISTEN TO WHAT IS LOCKED

BUILD A VIEW OF THE SYSTEM

FOSTER DRIVE

Client cases:

Approach

We share a common tool box and methodologies for our work, find out more:

Three working principles

+

F.A.S.T.

+

Barometer

+

Three working principles

What is it ?

Our working principles provide a powerful framework to enable groups to have game-changing conversations and sets each group member in a specific mindset to allow conversation of an unparalleled density. The three principles are:

  1. Seek out the good reason : we always have a good reason to say what we say, think what we think, do what we do. Do not argue about what you do not agree, just search for the good reason of the other person, especially when it bothers you ! You will find the lever for shifting the conversation to a more productive space.
  2. Speak out when you have something in mind important, if you do not do so, the others will miss important information. They cannot access to your « good reasons ». Do it especially when it is difficult, when you fear to be contradicted, that is when it helps the group the most.
  3. Learn from others : just consider that there is something you have to learn from the conversation, especially if you already know the person – you will enter a new world!

Why do we love it ?

because the principles:

  • create a « special space» for respect and openness : each participant is encouraged to talk and listen carefully
  • lower the pressure, as they are not « strict rules », but more a guide all are encouraged to follow. Moreover, because they are simple everyone can help each other in applying them.
  • are simple and logical (everybody understands and agrees with them), yet very powerful : when you really try to follow them, you step into another mindset. And this mindset can remain in the organisation, after our intervention.

How do we use it ?

We present the 3 principles before any important conversation or workshop : we present them briefly, and explain why they are useful.

Then we ask each participant to think which of the 3 principles will be the hardest for them to respect, and why ? If one stands out, we discuss further with the group.

Where does it come from ?

The idea comes initially from the work on empathy by French psychoanalyst Serge Tisseron who identified decisions you can make to develop true empathy. Today we keep the third rule as the cornerstone of his work : to develop true empathy you have to decide that you will learn something from others.

The second one (speak-out) is a summary of the work of Will Schutz on openness showing that teams are more healthy when everyone feels free to speak out and the work of François Morel showing that highly reliable organizations put in place rituals, processes and training to enable people to speak-out : it could have prevented the explosion of the Columbia space shuttle for instance.

The first principle comes from the work of the famous organizational sociologist Michel Crozier who tried to understand unusual behaviour in organisations by suggesting that everyone has a good reason to act the way they do.

F.A.S.T

WHAT IS IT ?

F.A.S.T. means « Flow Analysis Survey for Team ».
It is a feeling-based survey : each member of the team is asked to express his personal feeling by considering one topic, choosing three words within a list of 40.

Consolidating all the answers, we get a synthetic and powerful view (a « map ») of a team in relation to a given topic. Two views are available :

  • a word cloud, really easy to read
  • a flow diagram, based on the Flow model (8 zones, in which the optimal zone is the « flow »)

WHY WE LOVE IT ?

For two reasons :

  1. it facilitates the expression of feelings : feelings give a lot of useful information: some are on track, others stressed, or relaxed. One part of our job is to help people to express their feelings, in a convenient way, not « pushing them » nor having to teach them a lot of stuff about self-awareness. F.A.S.T. is easy because people just have to pick-up 3 words in a list to express what they feel. It gives a strong « permission » to feel what they feel.
  2. it gives a unique perspective on a team’s level of engagement : the Flow model outlines that people are happiest when they are in a state of flow, a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. F.A.S.T. allows to see in what state of flow a team is, which in turns can help with identifying specific actions.

HOW DO WE USE IT ?

F.A.S.T. is appropriate when a team is facing a challenge and when we want to generate a good conversation about it. There is always a conversation after a F.A.S.T. survey.

Here are some typical situation where we use F.A.S.T. :

  • To prepare an important team meeting or seminar e.g. « how do you feel about the strategy presented last week by our CEO ? »
  • To check how things are going on with a project e.g. « how do you feel about the way the project is driven ? »
  • To help people think about their role « how do you feel about your responsibility in this project ? »
  • To close a process, a seminar « how do you feel about the journey we had together today ? »

F.A.S.T. can be done live (in a meeting) or as an online survey.

WHERE DOES IT COME FROM ?

The Flow model was developed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi to better understand motivation and the factors that contribute to it and overall success of an individual.

The 40 feelings list comes from the book « Non Violent Communication, a language of life » from Marshall Rosenberg. Marshall Rosenberg developed a communication process that « helps people to exchange the information necessary to resolve conflicts and differences peacefully ».

BAROMETER

WHAT IS IT ?

The barometer is a process designed to help people reflect on and analyse difficult topics.

Generally speaking emotions (stress, fear, frustration) blur thinking. More important, in a team or an organization, a high level of emotion prevents people from talking to each other.

To overcome this problem, the barometer process asks people to write down and colour-code rather than express their feelings (see diagrammes below):

  • green means I am energised, happy…
  • yellow that I am OK
  • orange that I am not great, frustrated or irritated
  • red that I have a serious issue.

For more complex situations or projects, it can be complement with a scale 1-10 to show the intensity of the feeling, and the feelings can also be benchmarked against 7 pre-set dimensions of organisational performance or project management.

Consolidating all the answers, we get a synthetic and powerful view (a « map ») of the team on a given topic. The process of coming to this synthetic view also provides a team with the basis for a new shared understanding of the topic.

WHY DO WE LOVE IT ?

  • it re-enables a group to think when in difficulty
  • it gives a map of a complex problem
  • In feelings lies a lot of critical information : we access and capture them. For instance when a project or a company is in jeopardy, few people feel free to raise tough points. Using the barometer allows them to think and then express their points of view in a manageable way for executives.

Part of our job is to help people make sense out of all those feelings, thus saving a long and hazardous work on self-awareness.
Applying and using it once is enough to create new language and a distinct form of dialogue for teams by repeating the methodology and apply it to other challenging and complex situations.

HOW DO WE USE IT ?

Here are some typical situation where we use the barometer :

  •  To set-up or diagnose a complex project (« what are our project’s key issues today »)
  • To diagnose challenges related to interactions within an organisation and fine-tune interpretation, (“our project manager failed to…”. It provides a kind of a sociological analysis of a population)
  • To give a feed-back to a leader when the team is big (« how do you feel about this new ambitious strategy?”) »
  • To help people sort complex feelings (« is performance the real issue here or the relationship with your counterpart/peers? »)
  • To assess the state/engagement of a management team by helping people express, sort and solve intuitive situations (“I feel our way of working together can be improved”)

The barometer can be processed live (in one or several meetings) or as an online survey.

WHERE DOES IT COME FROM ?

The barometer concentrates three main streams : coaching techniques mainly coming from Vincent Lenhardt, psychoanalytical way of processing groups as described by Jean-Claude Rouchy and HRO (High Reliability Organizations) theory from François Morel who identified that very reliable organisations put in place processes to allow everyone to speak-up.

Talents

In any team, members continuously face a tension between independence and shared commitment.

That is why we are organised as a cooperative to allow each of us to express our entrepreneurial drive.

We therefore heavily invest in regulating the relationships among us, just as we do with our clients.