Grace McKeown is President, ACMP Greater Vancouver Chapter. She works as an independent consultant supporting organizations with strategic planning, project and change management.

I partnered with Lisa Kempton at our March “Conversation with Change Practitioners” to discuss the volume of professional development opportunities that have been available in our new virtual reality. I shared how I was becoming saturated and finding it difficult to absorb and apply all the new learnings.

Several years ago, Lisa and I were trained in a program with the Human Systems Dynamic (HSD) Institute. We talked about the system model called “Stretch and Fold” and how this applies to our learning and integration of learning process.

The model explains the need for cycles of work and rest and the importance of recognizing that no part of a human system can operate on high levels 100% of the time. The periods of folding are a time for reflection, learning, and integration.

stretch and fold

Sometimes referred to as the Baker’s Transform, this tool provides for intermittent cycles of stretching and folding across a system. Stretch refers to periods of hard work, steady growth, or large challenges, interrupted by times of system-wide relaxation and reflection, which we refer to as folding.

Wise leaders understand this need for cycles of work and rest, and will find ways to support and instigate them for individuals and for groups across the system. They recognize that no part of a human system can operate on high levels 100% of the time. They use the periods of folding to engage in reflection and learning as teams examine their work to identify lessons to be gleaned and next possible options for action.

We also explored Prosci’s Change Practitioner’s Journey as a way to categorize our learnings:

“What I Know, What I Do, How I Grow, Where I Go”

visualization process of accomplishing a goal

The group generated a lot of practical ideas and suggestions. Here are a few highlights:

  • Integrating new learnings into what you already know
  • Podcasts when you need a computer break
  • Take the pieces of the learning that work for you – you don’t have to use it all (i.e. cherry pick!)
  • Teach back to reinforce your learnings
  • My other learning is it may be shiny new and exciting to me as a practitioner but it doesn’t mean now is the right time to use it – recognize what will work for different clients
  • Same/different activity to reflect on your learning – what is the same and what is different/new?
  • Right tool for the right job and right time – get clear on the outcome you are trying to achieve

I really enjoyed this conversation with my change network and appreciated our shared experience of feeling “stretched and how to “fold” when needed!