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INTERVIEW Playing to win

Continue your own learning Don’t get complacent and rely on doing your work in the same way you’ve always done it. Reacquaint yourself with feeling uncomfortable and the sense of ‘not knowing’ that happens when you are a beginner; it connects

you more to those who may attend your workshops or events.

Be playful and experiment!

I love the quote from the therapist Flora Colao “Life is playfulness. We need to

play so that we can rediscover the magic around us and within us”. The latest research in neuroscience shows us what happens when we are playful and experiment. I’ve run workshop sessions outside, and I’ve turned a PowerPoint slide into a whole body experience by getting participants to physically recreate a model and notice what happens when they change positions.

Trust your intuition Trust the quiet, inner voice of your body. Sitting quietly at the start of each day to breathe slowly and connect with myself sets me up for the day ahead..

Try ‘working live’

a safe space for real exchanges to happen. I still draw on those tech- niques when I’m working with clients. Reflecting on the best experienc-

es I create for clients, some common characteristics emerge: bringing leadership teams or groups together in a safe space where there is time to slow things down; bringing ‘real work’ into the room; helping people to have conversations about things they don’t normally talk about; ‘working live’ – responding to what starts to emerge, adjusting the agenda and format as things unfold – and, importantly, being playful and experimental. Afterwards people tell me how much progress they’ve made on important issues, how connected they feel to what they are here to do, and how much deeper their relationships have become.

What's next in your career?

Right now I’m committed to building our consultancy’s OD practice into something we are all proud of. Tat

14 | june 2016 |

will involve continuing to experiment with approaches and methodologies, and being stretched and inspired by my colleagues and clients. I’m also continuing to offer my support as a mentor, helping grow the next generation of OD consultants. I get real pleasure in seeing people devel- op their confidence and self-belief, stepping into their brilliance as they see the positive impact of their work. Further into the future I want to

write about my work, maybe lecture at a university on an OD programme, and find the time and space for my studies and a professional doctorate.

further information

Gwen Stirling can be contacted via

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Rather than running a workshop that is separated from the work a team needs to do, increasingly I put work at the heart of an event to develop new skills and behaviours ‘real time’ while the team work on a critical business issue. These can be high-intensity sessions, and can feel a bit scary for them (and for me too), but this high-impact approach shifts individual and team performance faster than anything else I’ve tried.

Have crucial conversations Build your skills and confidence in having those tricky but crucial conversations. They are never easy but I’ve found being courageous and taking the initiative to instigate these conversations has shifted a situation or relationship for the better.

Continually develop ‘use of self’

Develop your ability to reflect and get to know yourself on a deeper level;

discover more about your potency and impact on others, and experiment to

flex your approaches. Our impact as OD consultants is through the way we first show up in the system and the way we choose to act on our observations and intervene across the whole system.

Love what you

I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but it’s true. I consider myself fortunate to have found what I love. I don’t separate my work and non-work life; they both are formed and shaped by each other.

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