Nov event review

November Event Review – Sharing OD stories to celebrate our work and impact in 2021

Our final event for this year, Sharing OD stories to celebrate our work and impact in 2021, was facilitated by Allison Tsao (Leadership Group Member and Founder of Humans Who Lead). While it was a small group of 12 for our final event of the year, the carefully structured process we followed using Liberating Structures Principles and Conversation Café enabled real depth of engagement throughout.  


So effective was the process, it’s worth providing a brief outline, but more details are available from ODA and from Allison. The starting point was a carefully structured invitation to reflect on: 

  • How has 2021 led you to your growth edge in your OD practice?  


Framed this way encouraged internal reflection rather than an externally focused factual account. Following Allison’s overview of the process, we had 40 minutes in our three small groups.   


  1. First round with the talking object (the theme or question posed): we shared with each other our thoughts and feelings on our theme, 2 min. per person, just enough pressure to get to the heart of the matter, according to the research (Keith McCandless and Henri Lipmanowicz), Allison indicted sits behind Liberating Structures. 
  2. Second round: each person shares thoughts and feelings after having listened to everybody at the table. 2 min. per person 
  3. Third round: open conversation,15-20 min. 
  4. Fourth round each member shares “takeaways.” 1 min per person 


Keeping to the timetable is a key to implementing the underlying theory, which aims to draw on all the available capability in the group to work through the complexity. In general discussion, it was remarked that Zoom constraints, which require good time management, actually helped the process. 


In our groups, we were asked to observe six behavioural principles:  

  • Suspend judgment as best you can 
  • Respect one another 
  • Seek to understand rather than persuade 
  • Invite and honour diverse opinions 
  • Speak what has personal heart and meaning 
  • Go for honesty and depth without going on and on and on 


Participants felt it was a “good structure” and “highly inclusive” and I especially liked the fundamental human values reflected in our experience.  

  • Fairness – for everyone participating in the process, order of speaking maintained throughout. Each group selected the basis for the process, such as the month in which you were born. 
  • Respect for each individual and trust in one another, which the structure generated, aided by good facilitation.  
  • A group member remarked “going first takes courage”, but having been introduced to the principles to be followed by Allison (see above), no one seemed troubled by that challenge. 


It became apparent throughout our time in a group and in plenary, that over the course of the year, ODA events provided a supportive environment and the opportunity to connect, share and grow, despite the constraints of Covid-19. Over time, we had got to know one another both directly and online; for some of us, over several years, and others more recently. We had shared the purpose of ODA, participated in the network provided and benefited from the shared experiences of ODA events. Nonetheless, what occurred at our end of year event lifted the conversation to a different level and generated a real depth of engagement.  


Allison helped us to reflect on our individual growth edge in OD practice, but as we shared our experiences, it was apparent how, compared to many other individuals and groups, fortunate we have been.  


Geoff McGill 

Leadership Group Member