How to Use Visual Models for Future Workplace Perspectives

Four Months. 300+ Teams. One Transformation Lab.

In this second post about ET Group’s journey through MIT’s Presencing Institute Societal Transformation Lab (s-lab), a new Theory U Practice, 3D Mapping, is presented.  The s-lab is a four month program bringing together 300+ change teams across the world. Each team uses Theory U methods and tools on a project they collectively care deeply about. ET Group (ETG) has provided collaborative technology solutions to clients for over 40 years. Above all, ETG is evolving to help unleash human and organizational potential. The key is weaving people, space, and technology together.

ET Group 3D model

Current Workplace Visual Model

ETG’s intention is to help organizations meet complex challenges by enabling collaboration. Therefore, the s-lab is the platform of choice to transform social and digital experiences in the workplace. Each month, teams use Theory U tools in support of the transformation they are enabling. For example, the team created visual models using a Theory U tool called 3D mapping.

Because new perspectives arise out of 3D mapping, ETG realized several workplace opportunities. ETG can improve its own physical space and virtual experiences. There is opportunity to integrate technologies and invite clients into the journey.
Teams of 5-8 people created current state maps of the ETG workplace. Toys and other objects represented aspects of the workplace. For example, legos, a lemon, toy cars, umbrellas and figure are pictured in the photo of a current state map above.

Gaining New Workplace Perspectives

Once the current state model was complete, the team moved around the table and paused at each corner. As a result, they gained a new perspective and articulated what they saw from each direction.

Drawing, Presencing Institute

Firstly, teams stand in the East with a focus on feelings and relationships. Questions answered include, “What do you love? What ignites your energy?” Secondly, they move to the South for the perspective of truth and action. “What are the key conflicts and hard truths you need to face to move forward?” Thirdly, barriers which are stopping the current system from moving forward arise in the West. Finally, teams move North for the deeper purpose view.  They answer, “What is wanting to die? What is wanting to be born?”

An Emerging Future Workplace

Next, team members moved objects towards a future state of high potential. Each team member stated what the object and its movement represented in that future. The team continued to move objects around until the future state felt complete.
A minute of silence allowed the team to absorb a sense of their high potential future workplace. After that, they engaged in reflective dialogue about the future state. Specifics about the model structure, the model building process, and leverage points for transformation were articulated.

Presencing Institute Photo

ET Group Insights

As a result of two 3D models, new insights about the workplace experience became visible.  Similarly, new questions arose.  Insights related to A) model structure,  B) object movements, C) key interventions and D) transformation leverage points.
A. Structural differences between current and future state models included:
  • Objects are moving in a new common direction, versus moving in opposite directions. Fast change is possible.
  • People were no longer scattered. All face in the same direction, positioned towards new tools.
  • The workplace is now a bridge, something people use. The physical space is not a barrier. Removal of both physical and mental barriers is possible.

ET Group 3D Model

B.  The object representing virtual workplace collaboration moved first. It was placed in the middle, connected to the meeting spaces, linking physical and virtual. Therefore, barriers were removed and a bridge was built.

C. Key interventions to build the future state included bringing clients onboard. As a result there was no longer a separation between team and clients. Lots of people made the journey, with no exclusions.

D. The teams discovered leverage points to move their workplace transformation forward, including actions to
-Change the physical space
-Adopt and integrate the technologies
-Improve the Virtual space – creating more connections with existing or new tools
-Focus on the the ETG self
-Invite clients into the journey.

Next Steps

In March 2019, ETG will continue to apply Theory U practices to support workplace transformation. They will use embodiment practices called Social Presencing to access deeper collective wisdom. In the following month, the team will generate prototype ideas in related to technology and people. Stay tuned!