Diverse Approaches

Since VISTA began in 1995 we have invested heavily in learning. We firmly believe, wherever possible, in learning from the originators of approaches and methodologies. Before you tinker with something then you had better be pretty clear on the principles and why the originators designed the approach this way. After all, you wouldn’t remove a piston from an engine just because you thought it could made life easier for you!

This is the list of our top 10 approaches in the field of Organisational Development and Design.

Real Time Strategic Change
Why this is important to us: To build alignment by accelerating and increasing engagement with change. We now know this to be probably the most versatile approach to engagement across all of the methodologies.
What is it: Based on 6 principles and 3 phases through 10 key actions
Where we have used this:The principles of RTSC have underpinned VISTA’s practice for over 16 years and we have used this approach too many times to mention. We have used it with large groups – upwards of 2,000 – and groups as small as 15-20 people.

Quite often we don’t name the methodology but bring the principles to life through the work that we do. One example to show how the principles are accessible and yet always challenging is the one around ‘how to create a common database of strategic information’. We would frame this as “who needs to be involved and what information do we need from them – from the CEO, external stakeholders, employees, customers etc.”


Future Search
Why this is important to us: Large group methodology to engage organisations and communities in determining their future.
What is it: Principles based (in common with RTSC), 16 hour ‘2 sleep’ approach over 5 steps that result in common ground agreement on a vision for the future and actions to achieve that vision. Primarily used with an average 64 people = 8 stakeholder groups, 8 people per group but adaptable to larger numbers.
Where we have used this: A range of organisational and community applications, including a group of 80 senior paediatricians and hospital managers who worked together over two and a half days to reach consensus on the future of paediatric services for a whole region. Local community including schools, businesses, local councillors and community representatives to build a vision and influence local development opportunities.


Open Space
Why this is important to us: Participants create their own programme of self-managed sessions related to a central theme of strategic importance, such as creating a new vision, figuring out how to implement a strategy or planning a significant change.
What is it: Based on four principles and one law, Open Space Technology is a simple way to better, more productive meetings. On the outside it can look and sound ‘loose’ and ‘flaky’ but, done properly there is quite a robust structure to the process.
Where we have used this: Many organisations across a range of diverse issues and often in combination with other approaches. Led by the Cabinet Secretary, the Cabinet Office engaged hundreds of senior Civil Servants across the country with the central theme ‘Make it Different’ to engage in addressing fundamental change across the Service


Conference Model
Why this is important to us: Engaging a critical mass to create new organisations or ways of doing business
What is it: Principles based systematic approach over three or four conferences that engage people in organisation and process redesign.
Where we have used this: Many organisational applications, with highly adaptable processes that can be applied in combination with other approaches. For example, understanding how different parts of an organisation connect and impact on others and highly engaging, dramatic scenarios that not only identify what and how things need to change but engage the whole person in experiencing the impact of letting go of the old to bring in the new


Appreciative Inquiry
Why this is important to us: Strength based approach to change that looks at organisations in terms of what works and what is possible rather than traditional problem solving techniques
What is it: The line of inquiry is developed and applied over four phases and undertaken in interviews or large group work to develop deep understanding of the issues connected to a theme and ‘what better looks like’
Where we have used this: Organisations and communities that want to meaningfully engage people in inquiry into a central theme, for example a Church that wanted to engage the community in revisiting it’s vision and a Regional Regeneration organisation that wanted to build a network to share good practice


Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator
Why this is important to us: MBTI is based on a personality framework that helps people to explore preferences for taking in information and making decisions, preferred styles of working and interacting with other people
What is it: Evidence based and widely applied instrument internationally for understanding individual and team differences and strengths. Focus on likely strengths and positive qualities of different personality styles across four different spectrums. On-line or paper-based questionnaire followed by interview. Information collated to give team profile.
Where we have used this: Many different applications for individual and team development. Senior executives and boards to whole teams across multi-site organisations.


Polarity Management
Why this is important to us: A user-friendly model and set of principles to deal with paradoxes or polarities in life. PM can be applied in large or small groups to discover how to balance these more effectively and gain the benefits of all of the possible answers whilst avoiding the downside of concentrating too much on one of them and inevitably ‘taking the eye off the ball’
What is it: Polarities are situations that have 2 or more right answers that are interdependent. (Continuity and Change – Individual and Organisation – Action and Reflection)
Where we have used this: Breathing is a natural polarity that we all manage without thinking – there is no ’either/or’ choice to breathing, we have to breathe in and out. In a merger conference, two organisations coming together used PM to explore the possibilities, advantages and disadvantages to merging. They used the breathing analogy to quickly grasp a fundamental understanding of polarity management and then applied it to understanding the complexity of the new world they were moving into, with a lasting impact that 6 years on still has senior executives asking the question ‘what are the polarities we need to manage?’ in a any given situation


Organisation Design
Why this is important to us: A high-engagement framework to assess and design organisations which successfully implement strategy.
What is it: The Jay Galbraith Star model helps us to see the combination of technical issues like the actual design of structures, processes, procedures and systems; and the social factors such as culture, capabilities, attitudes and values.
Where we have used this: In a large public sector organisation at a whole organisation level – multi-site, multi disciplined, to agree the design criteria that drives organisation design and focuses on delivering the agreed strategy. Then within the organisation – how do the divisions fit and what lateral processes need to be in place to ensure they stay connected and aligned. Finally within teams to create ground-level design criteria that are connected to the overall strategy and day to day delivery of individual and team goals


Leadership Diamond
Why this is important to us: A model of the leadership mind and a methodology for expanding leadership.
What is it: A powerful tool for distinguishing four interdependent leadership imperatives, or "orientations" - Ethics, Vision, Courage and Reality. By assessing the relative strengths and weaknesses of your Diamond orientations, you can identify where your increased efforts can be best leveraged, giving you the maximum impact from the least effort.
Where we have used this: At individual and leadership team levels. A workshop involving sixteen different teams of eight executives in each all identified their relative strengths and areas to focus on in order to become more effective leaders in the context of a period of rapid change. They then went on to develop strategies that ensured they addressed those areas and expanded their ‘greatness’ or potential for extraordinary results


System Dynamics including the Organisation Workshop (OW) and PowerLab
Why this is important to us: A book found by chance which significantly changed our lives. It highly resonated with our own principles and interest in all things ‘systems’. The most insightful resource for understanding system dynamics that we have.
What is it: OW – a visceral experience of system dynamics with participants undertaking the role of top, middle and bottom space. Anything from half a day to 2 days. PowerLab – a total immersion, personal development workshop where people experience the system dynamics from one of the spaces and develop a personal development plan.
Where we have used this: Used the OW with organisations including a school to give them a common language and develop a leadership strategy. Used elements within other methodologies to highlight their own issues with the dynamics within their system.