This brief article about my work at The Grove Consultants International was published in their Winter 2015 Journal. The Grove’s renewed focus on organizational and social change has been met with an exciting amount of interest and projects, including organization change and multi-stakeholder projects. Our increased focus on The Grove’s Learning and Exchange Network is generating a variety of new public offerings here in the US, Europe and Asia.

Introducing Gisela Wendling, PhD, The Grove’s New Director of Global Learning

By The Grove 

Gisela Wendling, Ph.D., joined The Grove in June 2014 as a new senior consultant and Director of Global Learning. She brings to The Grove a fine-tuned mindset and deep experience in organization change. Gisela describes transformative change as a process occurring over time, with distinct phases and a momentum that, if guided well, can overcome obstacles and resistance.

New Grove Intensive: “Designing and Leading Change”

At The Grove we are finding a growing need for organization and culture change work. Getting long-term results involves dedicated effort over time and significant shifts in values, focus and ways of working.

One of The Grove’s new workshop offerings to address this need is the Designing and Leading Change Intensive, co-led by David Sibbet and Gisela Wendling. This 3-day intensive combines the use of Grove tools with the application of emerging change frameworks to real-time participant projects.

David comments, “As Charles O’Reilly, a wonderful Stanford Business School professor we’ve worked with, loves to say: ‘Culture trumps strategy.’ Integrating this kind of awareness into our work with clients greatly expands our ability to get results. Gisela brings a wealth of knowledge in this area.”

The Liminal Experience: Research and Practice

Gisela first heard of The Grove while a student of organizational development at Sonoma State University, from which she has a B.A. in Psychology and a Masters in Organization Development. Later she began using Grove tools when she was Director of Learning and Development at Netscape during the go-go years of Internet growth. Her relationship to The Grove deepened in 2005 after she received a Ph.D. in Human Development and Organizational Systems through Fielding Graduate University and returned to Sonoma State to direct the M.A. program in organization development.

Gisela’s Ph.D. work focused on the ways in which transformational experiences in other cultures can be integrated back into our personal lives and the lives of our organizations and communities. She has written about this “liminal experience” and created frameworks and models that help leaders and groups to think about and creatively navigate change.

Liminal comes from the Latin word which means ‘threshold.’ It refers to the in-between period within a transition process, a time where we are no longer the old and are not yet the new.

“The structure and dynamism within the change process usually involves a great deal of uncertainty,” Gisela says. “Actually the uncertainty and ambiguity are hallmarks of the creative movement that is occurring. Embracing them and guiding them is essential to being able to reach a new goal or vision.”

GLEN: Global Learning & Exchange Network

In addition to bringing change expertise to her role as Senior Consultant, Gisela is taking on another challenge: to help The Grove support its increasingly global network to become a true learning community. The intention for the GLEN (Global Learning & Exchange Network) is to evolve collaborative practices within and across organizations and globally to better address the central issues of our time—organizational, social and ecological.

“How all this will manifest at The Grove and how its global network will move toward becoming a true learning community is the evolving work that I am directing,” Gisela says. “The GLEN will build on The Grove’s innovation in collaborative methodology and push the boundaries of what all of us in this change work can accomplish. The problems of our time are calling us to step up to the big challenges.”

Leading from the Future As It Emerges

Gisela reflects on the challenge of moving from old ways to new ones: “Most of the time we are locked into old ways that result in sets of filters that shape our understanding and action. But once you break out into a more open, available space, and you begin to notice and sense and see, you become aware of what is possible and emerging, not just what has been. I’ve come to think of this as leading from the future as it emerges.”

Gisela will be a huge asset in helping lead the future of The Grove and its increasingly global network of clients and practitioners.