The Liminal Pathways Study
“We are very fortunate to have Dr. Wendling’s multi-dimensional contribution to the interdisciplinary fields of organizational development and social change. This is a must read for any senior executive or consultant, coach, and facilitator seeking to make change.”
Amy Elizabeth Fox
CEO, Mobius Executive Leadership
The Liminal Pathways Study Excerpt
This free excerpt includes the Preface and Section 6: "The Idea of the Liminal" which explores liminality as an increasingly valuable term in the social sciences and organizational work. It highlights the metaphors embedded in the Wendling Liminal Pathways Change Framework™ and reflections from practitioners.
The Liminal Pathways Study
- 280 Pages.
- Description of the Wendling Liminal Pathways FrameworkTM (LPF).
- Approach to the study and participants
- The Idea of the Liminal.
- Themes and benefits of the LPF.
- Stories and insights into contemporary experiences of change.
- End note references, bibliography, and author information.
About the Study
I undertook a more formal study of the Wendling Liminal Pathways Change FrameworkTM (LPF) to find out how practitioners in my workshops and seminars had applied the framework, how learning the framework helped them evolve their thinking about transformational change, and how they themselves understood liminality, a central concept in the LPF.
The LPF itself emerged out of my doctoral research of timeless and indigenous approaches to change and my own background in humanistic and analytical psychology, organization development and other related fields. I’ve also spent decades in practice and application as an organization-development practitioner and educator. I suspected that because the study was happening within the context of an unprecedented level of upheaval, I would receive a rich set of responses.
My study indeed surfaced useful distinctions and insights regarding how participants experience and move through change and how the idea of the liminal (explored in the download indicated here) opens new ways of thinking about and practicing designing and leading change.
The participants’ stories, ideas and insights described in the Study paint a full picture of what really goes on with change. They identify instrumental, psychological, and integral benefits of the LPF and the importance of working on both the inner and the outer process of change. They came to understand the importance of accepting and working with affect to become vessels for positive change, and reported learning how to embrace the liminal, in-between phase of change.
My hope is the LPF, and this Study, will help prepare change practitioners and leaders to design and lead transformational change. I trust that the conclusions I have drawn will help you discover new pathways into and through the territory of what is no longer and what will be.
Liminal Pathways System
Leadership Coaching & Consulting
I offer coaching and consulting for leaders, teams and organizations wanting support in realizing transformational change.
Pathways Through Change Workshop
February 7-9, 2024
In this three-day workshop, you will explore how to move through ambiguity and not-knowing, tap into your transformational agency and find individual and organizational renewal during times of great upheaval.
Along with the other participants, you will consider change situations that are volitional and planned and those that may feel beyond your control.
Discover for yourself new ways to orient to uncertainty, tap into generativity, envision possibilities, connect to your personal pathway for a more promising future and learn to support other individuals, groups and organizations to develop their own.Details & Registration
Participant Reflections from the Study
Senior university executive
Responding to volatile ambiguity
“Ambiguity is a big part of liminality, and right now we are in a time I call volatile ambiguity. By this I mean, “Okay, this week it’s masks on. Next week, masks off. The following week, masks on. Then the week after social distancing again. The following week, no social distancing.” As a leader the only thing you can do to dig your organization out of the back and forth of prolonged volatile ambiguity is to change what you do because what you did before did not address the situation. And whatever the new is going to be, you must face being in the liminal.
Otherwise, nothing is going to progress in a useful manner, and you are going to make a quick turn into a death spiral.
Practicing intellectual curiosity helps you to stay open to new possibilities. And then you must stay with the liminal process. If you don’t stay with it, it will lead to the decline and eventual irrelevance of your organization and what it does.”
Psychotherapist and leadership coach
The felt sense of being in contact with the unknown
“Liminality is the experience of being in contact with the unknown. Liminality is not experienced by talking about it. Being in contact with the liminal is to feel it in your body and be overwhelmed by its vastness.
When I was a young professional and still in college, a lot of things were suddenly coming at me. I had to leave my apartment. I was encountering unexpected hurdles in my studies, and more. At one point, while I was driving in my car, I felt something exploding in my mind. I realized whatever I had done until now was not going to work anymore!! Some part of me was simply acknowledging what had already become apparent. And then the thing that happened next was a complete surprise. A new kind of energy began flowing through me from a source I hadn’t known, and the idea came “I will survive this.” I felt overcome by curiosity. I had never had this feeling before.”
Praise for the Study
“Once I started, I couldn’t stop reading; the book weaves theory and story into a rich tapestry of possibility. This is an excellent resource for anyone interested in supporting emergent change processes in complex situations. Like all the best models, there is a beguiling simplicity to the Wendling Liminal Pathways FrameworkTM (LPF) that can open the door to a lifetime of study and practice. Grounded in ancient wisdom and modern perspectives, the book offers a framework, not a recipe, mirroring the complex ambiguity of true, transformational change.
The LPF can be applied in coaching, counseling, team development, organization development, and social change. As leaders, facilitators, or hosts of change, Dr. Wendling urges us to remember that all transformational change requires each affected person to go through a personal transformation and to think about what kinds of inner and outer support structures in this situation, at this time, with these people, will empower them to grapple more effectively with the inner work of changing.”
Gervase R. Bushe Ph.D.
Professor of Leadership and Organization Development, Simon Fraser University and author of The Dynamics of Generative Change
“The COVID-19 pandemic, the impacts of climate change, social reckonings of widespread inequities, and economic uncertainty have thrust us into a state of unprecedented volatility and ambiguity. People find themselves grappling with constant uncertainty, sudden disruptions, and overwhelming challenges. This tumultuous environment calls for a new approach to human development, one that acknowledges the complex interplay between external circumstances and internal processes.
In this enlightening book, Wendling addresses this pressing need by presenting the Wendling Liminal Pathways Change Framework as a powerful tool specifically designed for change practitioners and leaders. By delving into the inner workings of transformational change and embracing the concept of liminality—a transformative state of transition and possibility— Wendling provides invaluable insights into how individuals can not only navigate but also thrive in the face of instability. With a combination of compelling stories and practical wisdom, this book goes beyond traditional methodologies, offering readers fresh perspectives and innovative strategies to navigate our ever-evolving landscape of change.”
Dr. Linda Booth Sweeney
Founder of Toggle Labs and author of the Systems Thinking Playbook
“In The Liminal Pathways Study Dr. Gisela Wendling offers us a reality-based, human- centric frame for understanding and thriving in our world of colliding existential crises.
I am particularly grateful for Wendling’s insightful explorations of rites of passage and crucible spaces—critical concepts for transformational change. These and other insights from Wendling’s new book are sure to advance the practice in the field of organizational and community change.”
Executive Director Collective Change Lab, Inc.