David Sibbet | Systems Theory
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'75EarlySibbetPhoto - What's the Future of the Visual Facilitation Field?Recently I was interviewed by a bright, young reporter from Communication Arts about The Grove’s work in visual facilitation. “I’m talking to a lot of different people and really wanted to talk with you, an acknowledged leader in this field,” she said. “I want to get to some of the underlying theory and structure of what is happening.”

This opening triggered an immediate cascade of memories back to the 1970s when Interaction Associates, Geoff Ball, Fred Lakin, and I were on fire about Group Graphics, the future of technology, facilitation, and organizations. After all, we were in the curl of the massive wave of rethinking that all of my generation was doing about established institutions. Why not take on knowledge work and how we know what we know?

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A third book in my Wiley & Sons trilogy on visualization is nearing completion of its first draft. Wiley agreed to print the book in full color, and I am having a terrific time loading it with examples of how leaders of all kinds can take advantage of what I’m calling the visualization revolution.

 

VisualLeadersCover8-3D - Visual Leaders is Happening

This cover image illustrates the big picture focus of the book. It’s written to help leaders and managers increase their visual IQ, learn to work with visual practitioners, and guide their organizations in become more literate visually, in both face-to-face and virtual environments. I am making sure there are lots of practice exercises and suggestions for new leaders.

As with Visual Meetings and Visual Teams, I have been able to not only write the book and do the drawings, but design it myself in InDesign. I’ve actually moved to doing the writing in InDesign, so that from the very first drafts I can see what I’m getting on each page. It’s a thrilling process to be able finally to create in both text and graphics. If you want to read the TOC, click on the images and they will expand.

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FutureTalkGraphicsRecently I met Mei Lin Fung, producer of Future Talk, a monthly TV show produced in Silicon Valley. She works visually herself and when she heard about Visual Meetings she invited me to be on her show.

We produced a half-hour session on visual facilitation and its application to complex problems in government. This was a three-camera, eight-person, all-volunteer crew, producing live and unedited from Palo Alto’s Community Media center. I talked about my work with visual meetings, showing some examples; then I demonstrated by taking notes on my IBM Thinkpad tablet when Mei Lin was talking.

Watch here – enjoy!

A couple of days ago Chrissa Merron called from the OD Network to talk about the fireside chat that I and five other award winners would have at the upcoming Organization Development Network Conference in Baltimore. “I’m interested in topics and themes that might be interesting to discuss,” she said. The question challenged me. What do I think is the most important thing to be thinking about as a profession?

What jumped to mind immediately were the deep roots the ODN has in systems thinking and looking at organizations as organic, alive entities. I then mused on why the network would give The Grove the Members Award for contribution to the field. What does visualization have to do with OD? A lot, I thought.

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