Participatory Learning Sessions


While Four Seasons individually tailors work for each client, the following are examples of sessions that can be stand alones or integrated depending upon the client’s desired goals.


SIMSOC (Simulated Society): One of the most powerful simulations for learning and applying effective leadership, this event (1-2 days) is ideal for leadership development. The experience stops being a “game” in the first hour and participants (from 15-75) actively experience issues of communication, decision-making, problem-solving, motivation and team effectiveness. The simulation, designed by Wm. Gamson at the University of Michigan, has been used extensively by Four Seasons with leadership groups in North America, Europe and Asia and have included groups such as mayors, lawyers, physicians, general work teams, educators and students.  Like any simulation, it is only as effective as the debriefing and application to real life situations and this is built into an ongoing process that may include readings from luminaries in organization and leadership development and ongoing e-mail dialogue and coaching.


ORGANIZATIONAL ASSESSMENT FOR EFFECTIVE PLANNING: As the saying goes, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there”. Four Seasons personnel are experienced and skilled in conducting organizational assessments that include tailored questionnaires, focus groups and large group discussions to examine the culture of an organization and the implications of that culture for growth and change.  This service is particularly useful for organizations that have consolidated with a merger or acquisition or who are beginning  major future planning efforts.


STRATEGIC PLANNING & CAPACITY BUILDING: At one time, it was not uncommon to find planning done in 20-25 year cycles.  Now any strategic plan that has not been regularly assessed within the past six months is likely to be out of date. Unfortunately, the results of too many plans is that they sit on a shelf and gather dust. Four Seasons helps organizations in a several step approach that begins with a needs assessment and meetings with key leaders.  It then sets on the ground or virtual focus groups.  The result is that when planning actively begins, the environment has been scanned so the groundwork is done for successful change and the appropriate methods for facilitated planning are determined. The process itself is highly participatory and typically adds capacity development so when the consultants leave, the organic process can continue. Checks and balances are built in along the way and the Four Seasons expertise in IT, business and planning are all available to move the planning forward in both a strategic and tactical fashion,


UNDERSTANDING PERSONALITY, ITS ROOTS AND IMPLICATIONS IN THE WORK PLACE (The Four Seasons Instrument): The nature/nurture controversy that used to surround understanding ourselves and others has basically been settled.  We know that we are born with preferred ways of being in the world and that these are shaped and changed by our environment. Over the years, there have been many personality profile instruments created to help examine this. Four Seasons, for example, have staff certified with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and several other similar tools.  The problem in the workplace is that it is often difficult to directly apply the knowledge one gains from them. To overcome this Four Seasons created an instrument and tested it over the past twenty-five years. It looks at general areas or preferences in functioning, how they developed and how each style can benefit in a work environment.  The instrument and its use are non-proprietary so people who have gone through this participatory session can immediately take it back to their own work or family environment.


APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY: (Making Change From The Positive)
During this session participants learn and develop an understanding of Appreciative Inquiry and begin to implement their learning in their work situations. First developed by Cooperrider and Srivastha at Case Western University, and popularized by other leaders in organizational development, it provides a step-by-step approach to build on what has worked within organizations and how that can be applied to successful planning initiatives.  Groups tend to be very good at identifying problems with or barriers to change and this workshop balances this with a focus on the positive.


FACILITATION (Making meetings and planning initiatives work) We have all attended meetings or planning sessions that wasted time or lacked accomplishments. In large part, this is due to the fact that leaders have not had training in effective facilitation. There are dozens of facilitation methods and Four Seasons personnel are certified  in several. Our CEO was Chair of the Board of the International Association of Facilitators which incorporates these skills in its teaching.  Among other methods, we help participants learn “The Technologies of Participation”, pioneered by the Institute of Cultural Affairs and used around the world, “Open Space Technology”,  introduced by Harrison Owen, Process Consultation, Situational Leadership and “World Café”.  We look at both successful techniques and practice and how to determine which method of facilitation is best suited to the identified needs.


DEALING WITH DIFFICULT BEHAVIORS:  With different personalities and motivation of participants within an organization, we often may experience behaviors that interfere on a personal, group or organizational level. This session typically has three parts.  The first is diagnosis, next treatment and finally practice.  Different behaviors respond to different solutions so without being able to identify the nature of the behavior, dealing with it will be hit and miss.  By identifying the specific characteristics of the behavior and the appropriate strategy to help change it, practicing in a safe environment not only develops the needed skill but can be enjoyable as colleagues get to act out the negative behaviors.


INTERPROFESSIONAL COLLABORATION (IPEC):  Team functioning is essential for organizational success.  In healthcare, for example, while the patient or client should be the center of treatment planning, many individuals with different skills and responsibilities  have to work together effectively.   Similarly in other venues, without shared leadership and understanding of assigned roles, an enterprise is likely to crumble. Members of the Four Seasons staff have been involved in a variety of national efforts to promote IPEC including working with the Harvard Macy group in ensuring collaborative efforts in medical training and being involved with the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education in the ongoing efforts to promote success in this important area.


WELLNESS PROMOTION IN STRESSFUL TIMES:  As Hans Selye, the pioneer of a modern understanding of stress related issue described, there is both good stress “eustress” and bad stress “dis stress”. We all experience both but with the exponential rate of change, dis stress if far more common. This session helps participants identify, examine and develop alternative techniques for dealing with stressful situations. It takes into account that personality type influences reaction to stress so helps tailor coping mechanisms to individual needs.