Reforming, teams and animal leadership

The Pathways Web
The Pathways Web

The Pathways to Youth Work group have come back together in Orvelte, Netherlands, for their final week of the process. The participants from the UK and Netherlands arrived on Thursday evening and then began the training on Friday morning.

Expectation and reforming the network

The group started off getting out into Orvelte to enjoy the good weather. Steve asked the group to form a circle and think about their expectations for the week. He gave the first person the “expectation ball” They had to think of something they expect from their week together. They then passed the ball to another person in the group, following a pattern until everyone had thought about an expectation. The expectation ball was then replaced with small juggling balls and following the same pattern, the balls got thrown round the group. The group set a new “World Record” by juggling no less than 9 balls together.

Next Steve replaced the juggling balls with a ball of string which he asked the group to throw around following the same pattern as they had previously to create a web or network of string. This was a metaphor or representation of our group in Orvelte. He tried to balance the ball on top of the string web, but as there were big gaps the ball fell through. The network was weak.

Pathways Web
Pathways Web

Steve then asked the group to strengthen the network. He told them to throw the ball of string to a person who had a quality they liked, giving everyone some nice positive feedback, enhancing the string web.

Finally he asked the group to move towards the centre to make the gaps in the web smaller. This didn’t just make the web better able to support the ball but also brought the group closer to each other.

Getting S.M.A.R.T
Getting S.M.A.R.T

S.M.A.R.T Personal Objectives

Next the group headed back into the centre to begin to consider their personal objectives for the week.

Each person took four post it notes and wrote their own objective on it. They were asked to think about whether each objective was S.M.A.R.T.

Objectives which are S.M.A.R.T should be…

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

Celia gave the group a factsheet which explained more about setting S.M.A.R.T objectives which you can see here.

Next the group added their objectives to the week’s programme timeline created by Celia and put on the wall. This helped to indicate when people felt they would achieve a specific objective within the programme.

The participants were asked to discuss this with each other during the breaks to explore why they had set themselves particular objectives.

Learning the Lean Clean
Learning the Lean Clean

Doing the “Lean Clean”

Before lunch Buzz introduced the group to the concept of lean working. This is the idea that you work in a very efficient way to maximise value, through an ‘end to end’ pre-designed process. It is also a process which is continually refined to strive to achieve perfection.

In their mentor group the participants were asked to decide on an area of the training centre to be responsible for during this week. Each group was asked to design what they felt was the ‘lean cleaning’ process for that area, remembering to maximise efficiency and ‘cut the crap’ from the process.

Helium Sticks
Helium Sticks

Team work skills

During the afternoon Steve asked the group to take part in some exercises. First he split the participants into two groups and gave them a helium stick each. Ten participants had to stand facing each other in two lines and hold up a helium stick using only two fingers each. Steve then asked them to lower the sticks to the ground. The group found this very challenging and struggled to lower the sticks but it demonstrated to them how they need to work together as a team.

Working blindfold
Working blindfold

Next Steve asked the group to hold onto a round piece of string then put on blindfolds. He asked them to form themselves into different shapes using the string. First a square, then a circle and then a square again. The group found it challenging to achieve as when there are many voices it can be difficult to get a clear sense of what needs to be done.

Writing Pathways
Writing Pathways

Finally, the participants split into groups of fives. They were each given a marker with four pieces of string attached to it and sat round a table with a piece of flip chart on it. Each group was asked to write the word ‘pathways’. Four people from each group had to wear blindfolds and hold one of the pieces of string while the fifth person gave instructions of what they needed to do to write the word.

All of the exercises were designed to demonstrate the skills needed to work as a team. It was important to listen, be committed to the task,

Exploring the Group Development Process
Exploring the Group Development Process

Group development process

Celia went on to introduce the theory of group development, originally proposed by Tuckman in 1965. The stages are forming, storming, norming and performing and these steps are repeated in a continuous cycle.

In the forming part of the process the group are likely to be finding out about each other, learning about their opportunities and challenges. During this stage they group members are more reserved and likely to try not to upset anyone else in their group.

Questioning the Group Development Process
Questioning the Group Development Process

Next they moving to storming. At this stage there can often be personality clashes or disagreements as people feel more confident to express their opinions. Sometimes groups will not move out of this stage and will remain there and others will pass this stage completely.

The third phase is norming where the group will form social norms and understanding of each other’s roles and personality, developing tolerance and a sense of shared responsibility. In this stage there is spirit of co-operation with an awareness of competition within the group.

In the final performing stage there is a greater awareness of of common goals with all members of the group actively participating and achieving good results. The groups will be able to discuss challenges within themselves without there being disagreements. It is however, possible for groups to go back to earlier stages temporarily.

Animal Cards
Animal Cards

What is your inner animal?

The final session of the day was led by Buzz and explored the symbolism of animals when it comes to characteristics. The group were asked to look at a pack of animal power cards, each one showing an animal and a set of characteristics. Each person chose the card they thought related most to them, then in their smaller mentor groups they discussed their choices.

...but none of the group were sheep!
…but none of the group were sheep!

Next they were introduced to the animals in the Native American Leadership Animals. First they only saw the kind of animal and not the characteristics and were asked to choose the one they expected to be. The group were then given the leadership qualities of each and match them to the correct animal to see whether their choices matched with themselves. Individually they were asked to think about which one of the animals they would like to develop the characteristics of.

You can see the characteristics for each of the Native American Leadership Animals here.

Images courtesy of Christian Dyson Photography.


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