The Mayvin virtual community on LinkedIn was created during the beginning of the UK lockdown to provide on online space for connection for Mayvin’s network of practitioners in the fields of Organisation Development & Design, HR and Learning & Development.
In the group, we discuss the challenges that change practitioners are facing in their organisations, we celebrate successes and we support each other to find a positive way through unsettling, uncertain times.
In this blog post, you’ll find a collection of the most popular recent posts by Mayvin’s Directors and Principal Consultants.
The first collection includes the most popular posts by Director, James Traeger:
“A moral practice of the moment?
Last week it seemed most of my work was with leaders facing huge ethical dilemmas. And the world, through multiple devices, was watching.
With colleagues in the ODNE, we have been spending the last few months considering two converging questions: What is the future of our practice of organisational change we call ‘OD’ and whither the ethics of this practice? We conducted some light-touch action research; it prompted us to come to the view that whilst the context is unprecedented (isn’t it always?), the knack of engaging people at a deeper relational cadence is as necessary as ever; perhaps even more so when anxiety is as heightened as it is. Our job of providing a narrative worth working and living for is also still in demand.
In parallel, my colleague Rob Warwick led a stream on the ethics of our practice. This comes to a linked conclusion: that we need to consider our ethical choices as we make them, in the here and now, or ‘mid-sight’ as we call it, rather than waiting for the comfort (or disapproval) of hindsight. OD was developed by Kurt Lewin and others, looking back at the horrors of the second world war. But for us, and our leaders, the world is watching as we act right now. We need a moral practice of the moment.”
There’s Facebook, WhatsApp, the mindful-not-doing group, that group, this group. But there’s another thing going on. A chance to just stop. Follow that yearning to be still that hardly ever gets airtime in your life. Pause and look out the window. Now look again. Look at that sky, that cloud, those birds, that grass blowing in the wind. Even on that small patch behind the bins. The blowing plastic bag. Spiralling higher and higher. Look again. Pause again. Breathe. I’m bored of the busy. I am addicted to it and bored by it. I desperately yearned for stillness before.
We have a magnolia in front of our house. Most years gone by, before I’ve even noticed it, the petals have all fallen. Every year I think, ‘I must pay more attention to the magnolia!’. Now I’ve got the time. What’s not to like? Just stop.”
“This will change us
In lockdown I feel like I am on a spaceship, sealed in with my family, floating in a controlled environment, venturing out rarely into the hazardous outside. I’m a space nut. I always was, possibly because one of my earliest memories is of watching the first Apollo landing on the moon, in 1969, on a flickering black and white TV mounted high up on a wall in a cafe in Majorca. I’ve always felt my consciousness was somehow intertwined with the picture of the earth, the photograph of ‘earthrise’, taken in late 1968 by the Apollo 8 astronauts as they circumnavigated the moon for the first time.
This changed us. The Apollo 8 astronaut Jim Lovell, described how he could put his thumb over the earth in his window and it made him realise how fragile our existence was. It is said that this image of a small planet, a ‘blue marble’, floating in the blackness of space, was the single most important output of Apollo. When Kennedy announced the goal of landing on the moon in 1961, no one could have predicted this. Similarly now, as I float in my spaceship, I know, without knowing how, that profoundly, once again, this will change us.”
Our next collection of posts is by Principal Consultant, Tony Nicholls:
“The Mayvin team met face to face this week. This was the first time we had been together for over five months. During our check-ins we shared our reflections on getting ready that morning, travelling to the venue and of being in a room together. As we reached for our work bags, we realised we had forgotten what we usually packed. Getting ready and having breakfast before we walked out the door was such a different, time-bound feeling when compared to the more relaxed home-working routine.
Seeing colleagues in 3D after only seeing them for so long in 2D, as an image on a screen, was more than a little weird. Travelling on public transport in eerily empty carriages left us feeling vulnerable. Not being able to hug each other made us sad. So many of our taken-for-granted routines and rituals have been forcibly knocked off-kilter. Getting hold of our favourite croissants has become an ordeal. This has been a strangely disorientating day. And, then there are the people, our colleagues, our friends. They are the same. They are there for us. There is, thankfully, consistency in all this disruption. How are you finding the emerging normal?”
“James Traeger’s talk of being institutionalised has reminded me that today marks two weeks since my minor operation and therefore I am ‘free’ to go out again. I am genuinely anxious about this. I’m not skipping with delight as I thought I would be. I went into Manchester to take some photos just before this second period of isolation and I felt incredibly vulnerable in an almost deserted Northern Quarter.
I’m feeling that anxiousness return. This is a strange feeling for me. I’m usually confident and bullish about exploring new environments. There is obviously something different at play here. My confidence in entering new work and social environments flows from past experiences and confidence in ‘transferable’ capabilities. I’m quickly realising I have little past experience or capability to draw upon from other post-lockdown, pandemic environments. Maybe I will take Martin Saville’s advice and listen to some music as I step over the threshold into the outside world? It won’t be opera.”
“Reflecting on James Traeger‘s post on spotting patterns, I’ve noticed an emerging bifurcation in the way organisations are approaching the “re-boarding” challenge. Some are taking time to reflect on what they have learnt during this crisis and how new patterns are proving beneficial in some ways.
Others are keen to get back to normal and get everyone back in the office, ready for business as usual to recommence.
I wonder whether the more reflective amongst these organisations will be able to open up the opportunity for difference to emerge through their reflections and therefore spot opportunities to strengthen their businesses?
It is telling that creating space for ‘structured reflection’ is fast becoming one of Mayvin’s go-to interventions. A sign, perhaps, that we are working with organisations looking to learn and allow difference into their worlds.”
The following collection includes the most popular posts by Director, Martin Saville:
“Earlier today, a woman outside my open window started a loud, sweary phone conversation just as I sat down to meditate. I’ve been taught in such situations to note what that produces in me – eg wishing she’d stop, judgement or irritation – and then return to focusing on my breathing.
This does help – it’s a reminder to own my reactions. However, when the distraction is intense and ongoing, as today’s was, I get to a place where all I can do is attend to my breath, while trying to shut out everything else. The meditative equivalent of blocking my ears and singing, ‘La la la can’t hear you’. I think that may be missing the point.
Today, I happened upon something new, inspired by Wendy Palmer, who has been writing and teaching in this territory for many decades. Rather than seek to shut out the noise, I actively included it in my attention – not moving towards it but just letting it be there. The result was first that my body softened, second that I felt more empathy for the woman and third that she faded away into the background of my awareness.
One of the things I like about meditation is that I get to see myself in all my messy, imperfect glory. So today I will pay attention to actively including things I might otherwise prefer to shut out.”
“Morning! Today I’m thinking about how ‘differently different’ we all are in lockdown. I notice people who typically orientate to life similarly having wildly different experiences. Suddenly new differences are making the difference – how introverted or extraverted we are; whether we have school-age children or a key worker in the family; whether our businesses allow for virtual working or not.
Now we are in this new ‘can we? / can’t we?’ phase of lockdown, different kinds of difference are showing up. I notice people wrestling with ethical and practical questions about whether to go out for a walk this weekend with a friend, how literally to hold to two meters of distance, even if it means walking into an increasingly busy road, and what to do about masks. Again, I notice people with worldviews and values I would have described as aligned responding completely differently.
The thing that’s interesting to me about this is that these differences were there all the time – it’s just that they weren’t visible or salient until the context changed. It’s making me wonder about all the other latent differences we have. And, heading toward the difficult, challenging my own tendency to smooth away the edges of my own differences.”
“Morning! I have enjoyed sharing experiences and sense-making in my previous posts. This week my attention is taken not by Sigmund Freud and Melanie Klein but by post-it notes and a comb. Here are the stories.
Post-its: we moved into a new home at the end of 2019 and much of January, February and March went into unpacking and sorting. By mid-March, all that remained was some snagging. I booked our painter for a couple of days and marked all the snags with pink post-it notes. Then lock-down happened and the post-its have been there ever since. On Monday I decided to take them down.
Comb: I have not needed a comb for 20 years – I’ve never let what remains of my hair grow long enough. Today, standing in front of the mirror I saw Alastair Sim looking back at me so I am buying a comb. Even though I love Alastair Sim.
These stories speak to me about acceptance of what is. Not at an intellectual level but somewhere deeper. As I think of them, I experience a swallowing sensation, as if I am allowing something into my body and into my being. By swallowing, I feel more connected to myself emotionally – my body softens and I experience a brief pricking sensation behind the eyes. I can feel myself more. I am sadder and also more alive.”
Our last collection contains the most popular posts by Principal Consultant, Carolyn Norgate:
“I just picked this up from another colleague and loved reading it earlier so thought I’d share it here too, a timely and beautiful poem about washing hands by Dori Midnight.”
“James Traeger asked yesterday “what do the words data, science and facts evoke in you?”
My thoughts turned to what’s true about a situation for me, for you, for others here and not here. So often in groups, I hear assertions of ‘fact’ that are sometimes, when explored a little further, subjective truths. A model I often then use to help people grasp the concept of multiple truths is Glenda Eoyang’s 4 truths model (based on the work of Habermas).
For example, the objective truth today in London was that it’s rained a lot and the normative truth about that, I’ve noticed as I spoken to various people in the course of my day, is that it makes the whole day a little harder than if the sun were shining. My subjective truth though is that it’s been a good and productive day – the rain hasn’t really impacted on my mood. The complex truth recognises the validity of all of those and allows us to focus on what’s most useful at any given time.
For me, this model really helps people see and understand the notion of multiple, messy complex realities and hold what is truth or fact a little less tightly.
What do you use in your practice?”
“Just for Nice and Artful Practice
My Facebook feed is full of top 10 albums, movie soundtracks, books and more and I’ve have been nominated to join in but not done so. I’m busy, I tell myself. But over the past week I’ve not been too busy to start some ‘cataloguing’, through photos and ‘exhibiting’, though social media, what is now emerging as my scarf ‘collection’.
Having paid more attention to why this feels important and something I do have time for I’ve wondered if I’m going beyond ‘just for nice’? Or is for nice also a shorthand for everyday, artful practice? The flowers on the table, the way food is presented, the wearing of a beautiful piece of textile?
During lockdown, I’m certainly finding some joy in rediscovering art in different places and making an artful statement each day. In their forthcoming pamphlet on Artful Ways James Traeger and Rob Warwick reflect on ‘how humanity is defined by its ability to collectively represent its experience through different kinds of artful expression’, but that this expression is ‘often pushed to the fringes’. So, I’m pulling some of my own artful practice to the foreground and giving attention to it.
Oh and here’s today’s scarf…”
Thank you for reading these highlights from the online Mayvin Community. You can join the conversation yourself via the LinkedIn Group and sign-up to our newsletter for more content.