What is The GLEN?

The GLEN is a learning network focused on evolving the methods and practices of collaboration to face the big problems of our time. GLEN stands for “Global Learning & Exchange Network” and is also the Scottish name for a valley with a river—a watershed. This symbolizes The GLEN’s intent to support a pooling of knowledge and practice from around the world to further the field of collaborative practice.

There is now a growing wave of interest in visual learning and facilitation, fueled by The Grove pioneering this field, as well as by growing interest in broader change methodologies. Many in our network want to push their practices and contributions to new levels and take on bigger challenges. We are asking, “How can we best support each other and share our many experiences?”

The Grove initially invited a small group of “allies” to help us think about creating a learning network, blending professional development with a collaborative contribution. We met for nearly two years. This group has now been joined by several dozen additional colleagues and participants in The Grove’s Leading Change programs, a growing group of European colleagues, and consultants and activists who want to blend learning, action, and camaraderie. The network is growing steadily, but is intentionally small enough that people can get to know each other.

What Distinguishes This Network?

There are many associations for like-minded people, but there aren’t many knowledge watersheds for truly diverse, cross-disciplinary explorations that transcend national boundaries. The GLEN community wants to focus on collaboration across the boundaries of disciplines, organizations and cultures—not only to push the field, but also to explore, learn from, and embody collaborative practice in the network.

In practical terms, we find that collaboration flourishes when three things are present:

  1. Connection:  Learning, sharing, and working together creates connection. We want people to really know each other in this network. As we know from ecological research, the most resilient systems have the most diversity, not just of elements, but of connections between elements. Sharing community is a central value.
  2. Inquiry:  We know that innovation and vitality in living systems happen at the intersections and exchanges between elements. We believe this to be true of practice fields as well. To evolve, it is essential that we pay attention to the edges of our own work, embracing emerging questions and insights as much as field-tested answers.
  3. Contribution:  Taking the time to share learning deepens insights and opens up ideas for further elaboration and contribution.Members want to have a collective impact on real issues. The GLEN supports Exchanges, as well as designing and publishing the new pathways to competency that we discover.

These principles have led us to create a learning ecosystem that is designed to optimize collaboration and emergent knowledge and practice. Recently a GLEN member said, “You need to add camaraderie to these distinctions.” That indeed may be the secret sauce, as we experience members’ excitement about learning together.

“The GLEN is about making a contribution to the commons,” co-directors Gisela Wendling and David Sibbet say. “It is intended to be generative, going beyond personal development. We want to support a space where people can make differences they can’t make on their own.”

Who is The GLEN for?

The GLEN supports a wide network of consultants and organizational leaders who know The Grove as clients and workshop attendees, as well as other members who share The GLEN’s purpose of advancing the field of collaborative practice. A central motivator is feeling the need to connect up and support each other as we tackle issues like water planning, healthy food, cross-generational collaboration, women’s wisdom, race and religion, new governance methods, and cross-cultural knowledge exchanges (to name a few of the emerging interests of members). Understanding technologies of collaboration, the neuropsychology of leadership and collaboration, activating collective wisdom, and leading for resilience and change are focuses gaining attention and conversation.

The GLEN network includes internal and external organization consultants, internal HR professionals, facilitators (visual and virtual), team-development professionals, strategy consultants, community organizers, social activists, artists, scholar practitioners, and leaders and managers interested in collaborative practice. It includes practitioners with deep professional experience as well as those who are relatively new to the field. The GLEN is already global, with Grove partner organizations in Europe and Asia joining in. It includes persons inspired by The Grove’s visual work, as well as others who don’t draw at all but do work with other mediums of visual expression. It is already rich with new thinking and action.

Read the GLEN Ecosystem Description on the following pages to see what calls to you. The Join button will take you to more information and a link to request an application. If you have further questions, please email glen@thegrove.com.

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