Say Yes to the Mess! Find out more about Mayvin and our approach to Organisation Development.

Towards the end of last year we published an animation with a conversation between Carolyn Norgate and Sophie Tidman about what it is that makes us different and special. We’ve had some lovely feedback about it and so we thought we would share the full conversation in this Podcast Episode.

Aside from saying yes to the mess, in this podcast episode Carolyn and Sophie talk about the excitement of offering a Masters, what it is they love about working at Mayvin, the Mayvin approach to leadership training, the wonderful Mayvin community and more. 

Feedback we received on the animation included:

I love the animation – it is so clever and so Mayvin. Moving towards the mess is brave and that is my experience of Mayvin – the mess does not phase Mayvin! Thanks as always for your support and wise words every time we connect.”

Really loved the video – “say yes to the mess” – really resonated with me!! “

Love the ethos. Say yes to the mess and working in the complexity and not fixed state resonated for me.”

So let’s listen to their chat!

Subcribe to the Podcast:

Say Yes to the Mess Podcast Transcript

Sophie Tidman  0:00  
So Mayvin, 

Carolyn Norgate  0:02  
Mayvin, are a leadership and organisational development consultancy.So what makes us different? What makes us special? 

Sophie Tidman  0:09  
Yeah. So what makes Mayvin special to me and why I joined, I think is because we place relationships at the heart of everything we do. That’s always, that really resonated with me in my previous career I always saw relationships as the things that actually drove change at the end of the day. And it’s really refreshing to come to a place where that’s deeply acknowledged. And embedded in the who Mayvin are not just what we say. Yeah. 

Carolyn Norgate  0:37  
So for a client, what might that mean, placing relationships at the heart of what we do, I think that means we get, we get very close to the grain of your work, we really want to understand what’s going on for you. We’re facilitating a conversation around some of the messy stuff around not just the stuff that’s on the surface, but what else is going on? 

Sophie Tidman  1:02  
Yeah, and deeply curious. And people, I think, like, intrigued and are not not judging. It’s quite a gentle place. I feel like and we’re not attached to any way things should be we meet clients we meet you where, where you’re at. 

Carolyn Norgate  1:23  
So we don’t turn up with judgement around what shouldn’t shouldn’t happen next, where you shouldn’t be, we turn it with questions, ready to talk. So we’re that yeah, we’re that guide at your side, 

Sophie Tidman  1:37  
And be totally being present to whatever’s there. And I think that’s when Mayvin talks about being in complexity. That’s what that is really not not searching, not seeing you as a problem to solve. Not searching for answers, but but being open to, to what’s happening and where there’s energy to go to and following the thread. 

Carolyn Norgate  2:02  
So your organisation I really like that phrase, you’re not a problem to solve your organisation isn’t a problem to solve. The world is more complex than that. So how do we help you get some insight into what’s happening right now? What are the patterns? What in what you’re doing is productive, every system? Something’s working, otherwise it wouldn’t exist? And what is it that you need to change or want to change or need to respond to? Out in the world? 

Sophie Tidman  2:31  
Yeah, and this is the other thing about being really relationship and people centred, I think Mayvin is, is very positive organisation, not in a kind of happy, clappy away. We’re generally you know, pretty low key, but building on what’s already there. And applying, seeing kind of the strengths in what’s existing 

Carolyn Norgate  2:54  
And helping you, you, your staff, people on programmes, helping them see that I was with a group earlier. Asked them a question about their strengths at the moment and asked them how that felt like, because I know often, it’s not where people start. And I could really see, albeit on Teams, that kind of a sense of as people were nodding, I guess we don’t normally think about that. It’s not. It’s not where we start. 

Sophie Tidman  3:20  
Yeah. Because it’s tough for a lot of our clients. 

Carolyn Norgate  3:23  
Yeah. Yeah. It’s tough. The world’s tough the world’s messy. There’s a lot of ambiguity. So taking a moment to think actually, what’s working right now, can be quite refreshing, but also quite confronting. 

Sophie Tidman  3:36  
Hmm. Yeah. 

Carolyn Norgate  3:38  
And I think we do aim to confront you with what’s happening in the here and now to have that conversation about the here and now as opposed to where is it, as opposed to only where is it where you’re trying to go? 

Sophie Tidman  3:52  
Yeah. carving out that space, where you can have the honest conversations and the challenge and still feel safe. 

Carolyn Norgate  4:01  
Yeah. Supported held. Someone is, yeah, that guard at your side? 

Sophie Tidman  4:08  
Yeah. And you were talking about facilitative. Leadership? 

Carolyn Norgate  4:13  
Yeah, we see leadership as a, as a process as something that whether your job title has leader in it or not. You’re showing up often in a leaderful way you’re needing to support, challenge guide, what you’re doing when a group of people are doing, how to resolve an issue, as an ongoing process of leadership, there’s an ongoing, adaptive process.

And so a lot of what we’re doing is having, you know, what we do is a facilitative process as well. So we’re often creating those small spaces of reflection and insight to enable some action, some wise action. That first couple of steps to iterate. There’s a double duty in that, because some of what we’re doing, that’s our role to do that. But when we’re working with leaders, there’s also helping them develop that skill as well. 

Sophie Tidman  5:09  
Yeah, so working close to the grain of the work doing the work, but also a level above seeing what’s actually happening here and reflecting on it so that there’s learning at the centre of everything. Yeah, continuous process. 

Carolyn Norgate  5:24  
Yeah, yeah. So often, our programmes have that double duty in them. So we’ll often be working through using a particular process with a group of leaders or with a group of HR or OD practitioners. And it’s in service of some thinking we want to do together. But we’re also modelling how you can have a conversation like that in a relatively short space of time, or how you can have a conversation like that online with a large group of people and get everyone’s voices heard or captured in some way. So you can now use that in your work, we give you that process. As part of it, we don’t just use the process on the programme. 

Sophie Tidman  6:10  
Yeah. When I joined Mayvin, I was sort of, I’m quite blown away by the level of expertise. And it’s quite an intellectual place in lots of ways. But at the same time, everything’s about the practice of leadership, and the practice of being in relationship with people, when things are difficult. 

Carolyn Norgate  6:30  
It’s really staying in a space when it’s difficult when it’s charged. The practice of being yourself, the ongoing practice of, of creating ourselves. It just so happens that many of the people we work with are leaders, so we talk about leadership, a lot. But yeah, that ongoing practice, in whatever role you’re in, but that’s also your life. 

Sophie Tidman  6:54  
Yeah, it will, your life is a piece of art 

Carolyn Norgate  6:58  
And a work in progress. We’re all works in progress. I think that’s one of the really interesting things when we talk about organisations with people is that sense of organisations as a work in progress, we often talk about being in beta mode, there’s, there’s that real sense of we need to get from where we are now to there, as if, as if they’re fixed states. So helping people see that we’ve moved a bit, and some things are different. Let’s just notice what’s different. Yeah. What might the next move be to make it a bit more different? 

Sophie Tidman  7:27  
Nice. 

Carolyn Norgate  7:28  
That’s okay. That we’re in beta mode. We’re actually we’re always in beta mode.

Sophie Tidman  7:32  
 Yeah. What’s the next step towards better.

Carolyn Norgate  7:35  
And I think that in the comp, you mentioned complexity earlier that in the complex, often what we’re dealing with is complexity not following a recipe. So we don’t turn up with a recipe into our clients worlds. We turn up with that curiosity we talked about earlier, we turn up with questions, ready to build a relationship, ready to help you navigate, but we don’t bring, we don’t bring a map with us. But we bring maybe a way of reading your map. 

Sophie Tidman  8:06  
Yeah, and I find that refreshing, you can see a million tools being used across Mayvin, within the Mayvin, community knowledge bank, but when we come to our work, we use them sparingly when we need to, when it kind of really feels right with a client. And that adds to that sense of just being alongside people. I kind of think of Mayvin, sometimes as sort of standing against the thingification of life.

Yeah. You know, you can see it in the way that there’s so many nouns, especially when anybody talks about bureaucracy, everything’s nounified. There’s not much doing action. And people are kind of thought of sometimes as a kind of very solid, static things. Whereas in Mayvin, we help clients understand the life and things, the energy in things at all times and to bring that into their work and make it feel more alive, make their organisations feel more alive because they are there. They’re like organisms. They’re not machines. 

Carolyn Norgate  9:11  
Yeah, they’re full of people. We have beating hearts and curious brains. And when they get thingified, and when the work around them gets thingified. It feels like all of that can get a bit dulled. Yeah. So I think there is something really interesting in that, sometimes it’s a bit of a waking up, not worried about that phrase, 

Sophie Tidman  9:31  
An awakening 

An awakening, enabling an awakening. 

Well, it’s full of potential, isn’t it? It can be quite unsettling, but also very exciting. I think.

Carolyn Norgate  9:41  
There’s something about what the spirit of an organisation is, and if it’s a bit dulled. It’s Iike actually how can you give that a bit more space, that collective pattern of all those people interacting? How can you really nurture that spirit and enable it to thrive?

So many organisations at different points over the last 18 months during the pandemic, I think survival has been paramount in a way that it often isn’t. And I think people are turning back now, or to okay where are we going longer term? This is not the world we predicted we might be in in 2021. But can we turn back to what we’re going to need to do to thrive? What’s the conversations we need to be having? How do we support people? How do we do lots of good stuff? 

Sophie Tidman  10:28  
Yeah. And there’s a deep care, I feel that we have our clients you need to do, to do that work, you need to have a deep care, but also a belief so that they’re not going to break. Organisations, people don’t break, relationships don’t break. So going towards the trouble, can be really give energy, give life to an organisation and move it into a whole new possibility. Yeah. array of possibilities. 

Carolyn Norgate  10:55  
Yeah. So really have a good look at mess, not sweep it under the carpet, 

Sophie Tidman  10:59  
Say yes to the mess. Yeah. 

Carolyn Norgate  11:03  
So we’re starting a master’s next year. This 

Sophie Tidman  11:06  
I spoke to someone yesterday, talking about working in a consultancy, hadn’t seen them for quite a while just updating them what I was doing and then mentioned the Masters. Why are you doing a masters? That seems he was like, so what’s the what’s the return on it? Like, you’re going to get clients from that? And it’s a project of passion, really? I mean, ultimately, yes, we hope to make some money, but I love the fact that it’s a small organisation. 

Carolyn Norgate  11:06  
And we’re about to do this enormous thing. We’re about to run a master’s programme. 

Sophie Tidman  11:19  
Yeah, it’s a bit crazy.

Carolyn Norgate  11:28  
It is a passion project. But it’s a passion project based on how we position ourselves in the field of organisation, organisational change of organisational theory of organisational practice, most particularly, we think we are, we seek to be leaders in that field, we have done a huge amount of work with a variety of public and private sector clients during our lifetime, which has been about developing od organisational change anyone really who’s curious about how organisations work and change.

And we’ve gradually developed an accredited master’s level programme. I kind of built it from the ground up. So we’ve got a certificate level, we’ve got a diploma level, and so why not start to, you know, build it up and make it a master’s? What we’ve noticed is that’s attractive to many of our clients. But it’s not something that any one of them wants to take on. We think there’s there’s enough interest out there that we’re going to do it. Yeah. But one of the things I really noticed working in the programmes we do, where we’re developing the change practitioners, for now and for the future, is that really sharpens my practice.

So I think it’s one of the ways in which we keep our edge. As practitioners. I noticed when I went to the States years ago, about 20 years ago, that a much more well developed model of scholar practitioners than I notice in the US still notice in the UK. But I think actually there’s something we’re doing with this, which is about, you know, having our own academic credentials as faculty on a master’s programme, and doing our own our own study our own work in that area. But that really feeds our practice with clients. It’s a hugely sharpening process. I find when you’re teaching something when you’re working with others who are learning something, you Yeah, you’re at the edge of your practice. 

Yeah, coaching. One of our areas of specialty is one to one coaching, it’s often part of a consultancy piece. But sometimes it’s standalone. Sometimes that’s what people specifically come to us for. 

Sophie Tidman  13:45  
Yeah, and team coaching. 

Carolyn Norgate  13:46  
So coaching in all its forms, how do we show up in that space? 

Sophie Tidman  13:50  
I think, again, that’s close to the grain of work. We don’t tend to do one off big hits, when we tend to be close to teams long term. 

Carolyn Norgate  14:00  
So we might be coaching a senior team, the Ask might be coming in and help us as a team, we needed a team away day or a couple of Team away days. And actually what it often turned into as a team coaching process. Yes, there’s a bit of early work in getting to know the teams and diagnostic conversations may be there might be some psychometrics, there might be some work with the team to get to know each other better. But often, it’s a coaching process with that team actually doing their work as opposed to an away day talking about things that you might not normally talk about.

Sophie Tidman  14:35  
Yeah. Again, finding leadership in the process. And in the collective rather than specific individual. 

Carolyn Norgate  14:43  
Yeah, so that leadership existing between that group of leaders, and how are they all part of it? How do they contribute to it? How do they sharpen that space between them?

Sophie Tidman  14:52  
Yeah, yeah. And always paying attention to the spaces in between people, those relationships, what’s the quality of those relationships because because that’s more important than any one part. I like that there’s never just a single bit of work one off, move on, we’re always thinking about the client as a whole, and what’s really going on for them, and working it out with them. And we’re agile enough to be doing a lot of different interventions, see what works, see what patterns we can amplify what we can disturb. 

Carolyn Norgate  15:25  
Yeah, there’s a lot of agility in Mayvin, we’re, we’re a core team of six consultants. And we have a large group of incredibly skilled associates with some very specific sets of expertise. So if you have something which has got a big org design component, you might be working with one of the core team and one of our associates to make sure we really show up well there. If there’s a particular flavour of leadership development you wanted, there may well be a couple of the core team and or an associate who we’re bringing in for that we’re able to meet you where you’re at, and what were the areas your needs are. 

Sophie Tidman  16:04  
So what Mayvin does is leadership and organisational development. But the how we do it is quite different. I feel in the quality of work we do and in the way we approach people, clients, organisations. One thing people talk about is the community, the Mayvin community, it’s not just an organisation, there’s a community around it of clients of friends of associates, people who are moved by something that Mayvin does something resonates.

Whether it’s sort of artful practice, more creative conversations, the deep sort of reflective nature of the work and sort of come back all the time in and that’s how I found out about Mayvin, I went to I met you, and then and then went to the artful conversations and just kept coming back because they were a lovely place to be quite special place. didn’t really find them find that that quality of space elsewhere. 

Carolyn Norgate  17:02  
Yes, I think our communities are really lovely, eclectic mix of current clients, ex clients, who want to stay connected, who are interested in what we’re thinking about and talking about come to some of our events, ex associates, our remaining interested current associates. 

Sophie Tidman  17:23  
And the curious, 

Carolyn Norgate  17:24  
yeah, the curious people who are on programmes, so alumni from some of our programmes, so yeah, when we get into conversations in our community spaces, they can be really good fun. And there’s a real diverse mix in there. Yeah, one of the things about our community that I think that’s so generative, is that there’s a, there’s a great feedback loop, people come to the community because it gives them something they’re not getting elsewhere a space to reflect, a space for provocation, a safe space to sharpen their practice.

And as Mayvin, we’re sense making. From what, what’s come out with those conversations. So that’s then informing our practice. So then we’re next time I’m sitting down with the client. I’ve got that conversation in the back of my mind, of that diverse group of people talked about, and how might that resonate? For this person right now? Might it be useful to bring it in? It may or may not. But it’s, there’s a great loop that happens. 

Sophie Tidman  18:23  
Yeah, like the mindfully moving towards hybrid working? Yeah, the post pandemic working patterns. 

Carolyn Norgate  18:28  
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So we’ve been running an inquiry into post pandemic working patterns that started with one event back in May, this year 2021. And there was a lot of energy in the conversation. So we ran a second event. And then we did some podcasts with some people who were starting to move into the practicalities of how do we develop a hybrid workspace?

What might we need to be thinking about as doing now and some of the issues we’re working on and we’ve further events to come and we’ll see how far the energy runs with it. I think that’s another thing we do is we tap into what the energy in organisations is, but in the slight sort of wider the organisational sphere as it were, what’s interesting people what’s interesting us what should we be talking about? 

Sophie Tidman  19:13  
Yeah. What are we talking about at the moment leadership leading in the liminal? 

Carolyn Norgate  19:18  
Yeah, leading leading in this liminal space? How do organisations learn? 

Sophie Tidman  19:23  
Yeah, lots of charged conversations at the moment and how to stay in relationship while you have those charged conversations. Yeah. And it feels like a loop. Again, as you were saying, kind of reflecting, adding nuance adding experience perspective.

Carolyn Norgate  19:41  
Yeah, I think one of the things we aim to do when we’re working with a client is help them develop insight. That often turns into broader organisational wisdom as you talk to ranges of people. There’s something that we also do with the community events, which is help create some wisdom about a particular area. So what do we collectively know about this? How might that help us? What do we do with it? 

Sophie Tidman  20:07  
Yeah, collective wisdom? Definitely think that’s something that Mayvin’s all about. Yeah. And in that there’s definitely a feel of walking the talk is a very inclusive organisation. very reflective. Yeah, thoughtful. 

Carolyn Norgate  20:23  
Yeah. And I’ve known Mayvin, almost since day one, as a client initially, and I came here a couple of years ago. And one of the things that was so refreshing about Mayvin, thinking about having been an internal practitioner, and seeing lots of external practitioners was the working at all how Mayvin is run as an organisation.

How we talk to each other in the organisation, how we are in the organisation, is a real modelling of what we do with our clients and what we seek to do with our clients. So we take the time, we focus on relationships, we take the time to understand what’s going on in our organisation, what are our patterns, what’s productive for us? We don’t see Mayvin as a static entity. We see it as an experiment, an ongoing experiment. What if, what if we do this? 

Sophie Tidman  21:14  
Or what if we did a masters? 

Carolyn Norgate  21:15  
What if we imagine we might run a master day? 

Sophie Tidman  21:18  
Yeah, yeah, I love that when I started moving. I think we had one of our strategic conversations. And it was slow, was really slow to start. We’re all just being together. And then it was really interesting. Nobody was trying to get anywhere. But suddenly we got somewhere. And I was like, that’s, that’s it. Yeah, that was really nice. 

Carolyn Norgate  21:42  
Yeah, there’s a lot of pressure to get somewhere. 

Sophie Tidman  21:45  
Yeah. And then you fall over each other 

Carolyn Norgate  21:47  
Yeah. Yeah. And sometimes it’s a bit of a chimera the sense that we need to get somewhere. But actually, no one really knows where we need to get to. So what about if we just talk about what’s going on right now and see what emerges from that conversation? 

Sophie Tidman  22:02  
Yeah, that has the seeds of change their’s a wisdom in the system. Yeah. Someone said to me recently, talking to Mayvin, it feels like coming home. And that’s certainly what felt like, to me, coming into Mayvin, it’s a very welcoming place, even at its most intellectual, which can be quite heady. It’s still a very welcoming, gentle place. What does Mayvin feel like for you? 

Carolyn Norgate  22:30  
I was thinking of when I first started working with Mayvin. It is very nurturing. It was very nurturing. So Mayvin, showing up in our organisation with us as a team of OD practitioners, we asked for challenge. So they gave us that, and it was safe, and it was nurturing. 

Sophie Tidman  22:44  
Yeah. Yeah. And sometimes I can feel like, oh, this might be a tricky conversation, but it never feels never feels hard. I know, I never feel the exposed, vulnerable but not exposed. Yeah, that’s a way of putting it. 

Carolyn Norgate  23:03  
Most of our clients come to us when they know there’s difficult stuff to deal with. And often you’re not going to wade through the difficult stuff without the odd difficult conversation. Yeah, the challenge is often invited, and then we’ll hold you through that process. Yeah, that’s your team, having that conversation, or just us sitting down with one of the leaders or the chief exec and having that conversation? 

Sophie Tidman  23:26  
Yeah. And those kinds of things balance out because it’s nurturing, but it can be nurturing, because you know, then we’re never going to dodge the difficult conversations. 

Carolyn Norgate  23:35  
Absolutely. 

Sophie Tidman  23:35  
We’re not nurturing by avoiding those conversations. We’re nurturing, because we care enough to have those conversations. 

Carolyn Norgate  23:43  
Mayvin is a place where we care enough for our clients to have the difficult conversations. 

Sophie Tidman  23:48  
Yeah. 

Carolyn Norgate  23:50  
I think we’re done. 

Sophie Tidman  23:50  
It’s a wrap. 

Carolyn Norgate  23:51  
It’s a wrap. Hope you enjoyed that, bye

Sophie Tidman  23:57  
Bye