Achieving exceptional results often does not begin with having the right answers — it’s fueled by incisive and evocative questions. At The Potential Group, we work with our clients to rethink and reframe the challenges in front of them, which creates more “generative” pathways for action. When we locate the right questions to ask, thought processes and emotions/moods shift, new possibilities emerge and individuals and stakeholders align themselves behind common goals in powerful ways that create action and results.
Our Generative, Emergent Approach
A word you hear us use a lot is “generative.” Generative simply means “work that creates more of what you want. “We help clients engage in “generative conversations,” which create an environment where powerful possibilities are developed, relationships among all participants grow stronger, and people become better at adapting. This means that the change we create is sustainable and the people involved improve the ways they work together.
No matter what the presenting question is, all of our work involves change or learning of some kind. In complex environments, change is continual – so our work is about helping people become better at and more comfortable with noticing what’s changing around them and then adapting to it.
We use principles of “Appreciative Inquiry” and complexity to engage people across organizations, networks and systems in articulating their strengths and what they already have learned from experience and using that knowledge to create sustainable, inspiring future directions. From these explorations, new ideas and actions that feel most meaningful to the people they matter to most are created.
You will notice that we don”t use the phrase “change management,” but rather, “change leadership.” We believe that sustainable change requires leadership in some form from everyone in an organization or community, and that advancing any question means continually adapting. And while we bring project structure and supports to all strategic work, there is always an emergent, or unplanned, aspect to complex change. Our work supports you in being comfortable with noticing what’s changing as you change, embracing that reality, navigating uncertainty, and becoming skilled at the improvisation and adaptation required in the complex world we live in. We provide tools and ideas that make working in a complex world simpler.
With this adaptive approach at the centre we also coach leaders to become better observers of themselves – their language, emotions and somatic experiences that inform how they show up at work and in the world. Our generative questions support clients to unearth their core strengths, clarify desired futures and develop strategies to get there. We support clients to build their capacities to engage their communities and colleagues as appropriate given their intentions and hopes for the coaching work. Our clients tell us that their increased ability to ‘self-observe’ combined with the relevant capacity-building and insightful inquiry broadens the spectrum of possible actions available for them to generate meaningful results for themselves, their communities and their systems.
Working together with our clients, we design processes, meetings and events that honour high participation and many voices. We design structured conversations for groups and/or communities to work together to create a shared picture of the future work and to surface personal commitments. Our sessions often use a range of pair conversations, small group discussions, and larger plenary conversations.
We use techniques that are appropriate for the setting and meeting type. These can include: World Café, experiential exercises, visioning exercises and rapid prototyping depending on the needs of the group.
Our approach depends on careful attention to the design of process as well as the ability to listen deeply in the moment, track the complexity of what’s being said, and to skillfully reframe a conversation in a way that respects the future the group wants to create. We are often complimented on our ability to shift in the moment to meet emerging needs in a group or organization. These “moments of truth” often make or break a project, meeting or conference. We have learned time and time again that we must be able to work with what emerges to best meet the needs of our clients.
We offer focused learning workshops on complexity, generative conversations, Appreciative Inquiry and other topics – and we also integrate capacity into most of our other work. We find moments to make our process transparent and help leaders build skills in facilitation, generative framing and appreciative questioning, global leadership, change leadership, coaching etc. Inevitably, our clients emerge from our work together with greater skill and knowledge about leading processes that make a profound different for organizations and groups.
There are countless organizations striving to promote innovation and make a positive difference in the world. Over the past 18 years,The Potential Group has made a commitment to supporting community agencies, charitable organizations, associations, arts organizations and international organizations
Community is about more than geography. A community is a group united by a common passion, a collective need, or a desire to improve their practice. These individuals could be connected by close physical proximity, or they could be geographically dispersed, maintaining virtual connections