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11-13 Weston Street
London, SE1 3ER
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020 7199 7099

Supporting organisations to bridge the gap between strategy and action at moments of change, making sense and shaping conversations with Big Pictures.


Filtering by Category: Workshops

Why You Can’t Afford to Ignore the Role of Relationships When Doing Business Transformation

Delta7 Change


In today’s business context the only certainty there is, is that everything will be uncertain! To be able to deal with the complex and ambiguous nature of the challenges we face we will be more reliant than ever on the quality of the relationships and conversations that we have in organisations. More often than not these are overlooked when a strategy is being considered and generally termed to be the ‘soft stuff’ while in our experience this is actually the hardest part of any programme to deliver.

Building relationships is at the heart of any successful culture change and central to improving performance in every organisation. Businesses today cannot afford to overlook the importance of relationship building when delivering transformation and culture change programmes.

We use Visual Dialogue, Creativity and Narrative to build relationships across organisations. By creating safe spaces for people to make sense of difficult relational issues, we help co-create practical tools to start building the better relationships that underpin successful culture change.

The Change 'Curve'

Delta7 Change


The Change Curve is a well-known model that tracks the typical behavioural stages we can pass through when reacting to change. From initial shock, through gradual steps of understanding until the change can be fully comprehended and adapted to. It’s often visualised as a graph that charts the emotional ups and downs of change as a curving line - but it may be hard to appreciate this bigger picture viewpoint when you’re deep within it.

At Delta7 our process of evolving a visual narrative through conversations and creativity is well suited to the challenges of the Change Curve, particularly because of the way that people react to change differently. A group can be at a variety of stages along the curve, and this throws up contrasting perspectives of view that make for richer, more enlightening conversations. People in the early stages of the curve who are struggling most to make sense of change can find helpful meaning from the observations of those who may be further along. Insights that arise from these conversations have the potential to carry everyone forward to a better position, both for digesting the implications of the change and for considering what they can do to respond to it effectively.

How do you measure culture change?

julian burton


Evaluation can be one of the most challenging aspects of doing OD, often because it can be invisible to clients who are not present when we do our work.

The purpose of evaluation can be anything from calculating ROI to learning and development.

Either way, it involves rigorous scoping with clients right at the start of an intervention. We have found that asking these questions at the beginning of an OD intervention helps us both get a better grip on why we are doing it.

• What do I need to know/understand? (Why Am I evaluating?)

• What will I do with what I learn? (What is my intent?)

• How will I make changes based on what I learn? (What will I do?)

What’s your story about evaluating OD?

Do relationships matter in the work place? Relational leadership - rethinking organisational change through the lens of relationships

julian burton


Bristol Leadership and Change Centre, University of the West of England

  • Elinor Rebeiro and Julian Burton, Delta7 Change Ltd.

  • Date: 06 December 2017 Time: 14:00 - 16:00

  • Venue: Room: 3X110, Bristol Business School, Frenchay Campus

At this workshop we want to show that the quality of interpersonal relationships is central to the wellbeing, performance and success of every organisation. This is why we believe that leaders can’t afford not to focus on building relationships as the central theme in leadership development programmes and organisational development work. We would like to use this session to share our perspective on relational leadership and shine a light on some of the unexamined assumptions we believe are maintaining cultures of disconnections and getting in the way of creating more human organisations. 

As practitioners we find ourselves enveloped in our client’s worlds. Their worlds are without doubt messy and complicated as they continually strive to achieve something different, something better. We find many leaders are experiencing more complexity and uncertainty in their role leading change, and it’s getting harder to resolve the wicked problems facing their organisations with traditional management practices. Many people feeling stuck, overworked and exhausted.

What's not working?

For example, most organisational cultures we work in don’t seem to have an emotional climate that nurtures experimenting and innovating new ways of working, yet there are strong intentions to move away from command and control and create more collaborative ways of working. The dominant view of management is that work is done transactionally by individuals (Hartling, L. and Sparks, E., 2008); yet the collaborative, interactive nature of organising and coordinating mutually interdependent tasks and roles means that effective working relationships are what gets things done (Fletcher 2001). 

We care passionately about how theory and practice can inform each other and how to combine the two things together to make them meaningful and productive for our clients. Yet we are noticing that theory still seems pretty far ahead of the reality of practice in organisations. What we are making sense of is how to connect theory and practice in a way that helps organisations but doesn’t put them off the possible innovations that can emerge from this praxis.

We will also engage in some experiential exercises to explore the different ways we can relate to each other at work and discuss how that can illuminate the direction that leadership development might need to take in order to more fully support organisations to thrive.

When was the last time you discussed your relationship with another at work?


Enhancing positive human factors; a common thread between K.M. and O.D.?

julian burton


The Henley Forum; Building Connections workshop 27th June  2017

We were at the Henley Forum recently for a workshop on building connections, and got to share some thinking on relational leadership and the importance of relationship building in Organisational Development (O.D.). Two of the other presentations on the day we liked explained how certain human factors constrain knowledge flow and the concept of networking mapping. Factors such as silo mentality, stress, fatigue, politeness, fear, positional power, social norms and emotional risks can often constrain people sharing ideas and knowledge, and this really resonated with our experience doing O.D. with clients. It's interesting to explore the connections between the Knowledge Management(K.M.) and O.D. fields, and what links these two different ways of looking at organisations.

K.M. could look different framed from an O.D. perspective, by thinking about knowledge as a process of knowledge creation through having conversations, rather than as objects of information to be transferred or stored. Given that enabling positive human factors is critical to effective knowledge sharing, and organisational functioning in general, looking at it from a more human-focused perspective could be fruitful. Shifting metaphors can be a good place to start. Extracting, capturing, retrieving and storing knowledge are good terms for understanding how computers work with information, but are they useful for working productively with the richness of human experience and relationships?

Knowledge sharing can’t always be controlled or contained: it has a life of its own. In the same way, as soon as someone tries to control a conversation, it deadens the interaction and we can lose energy, motivation and sometimes even the will to live! What we know is always changing and evolving.  It can be a messy yet deeply human process. 

Knowledge that is created in, emerges from, flows between and existed in the space between people is something that is easily extracted, particularly if someone is afraid to share something. Knowledge is something that lives in and between us, in the ways we come to know things and how we share what we know is a wonderfully human, natural, spontaneous and unpredictable process. When you are doing a new K.M. project we suggest you broaden it by starting with the daily human realities we work in, and how we experience knowledge sharing, and what factors get in their way. 

Giving more attention to the positive human factors and behaviours that build relationships would enable a more natural and effective flow of knowledge throughout an organisation. We think that by investing more in people and supporting them to learn relational skills you could significantly enhance your investment in the K.M. tools you already have in place.

ODNE SE region gathering report - HSBC Canary Wharf 13th June 2016

julian burton

We had a great discussion a few weeks ago at HSBC, in Canary Wharf [thanks to Tanya for hosting].

We began by sharing what was on our minds, what we brought to the space. The forthcoming EU vote came up, and how we each had different uncertainties about it. Which now have probably morphed into new ones given all that is happening!

We decided not to have one person hold the space and facilitate, which was really fruitful as by the end we had such informal, creative and stimulating conversations, it seemed to me we'd created an unstructured container that had some of the conditions for emergence, given how relaxed and engaged we seemed to feel. We then acknowledged that we were experiencing, in this meeting, having some breathing space, some time to think, share and connect. This felt to me like the wellspring of energy, creativity and connection so central to keeping our OD practice fresh, alive and moving forward. Someone mentioned that often conversations at work can be flat and lifeless and what we can do to bring energy back into a work meeting.

We shared stories of recent OD practice and experiences at work, and explored a few personal experiences and possible resolutions. We reflected on what was still resonating from the recent ONDE conference. We briefly explored what we each thought “generative image” meant, and how we could find a way to bring this idea to life and actually create ones that could catalyse community forming conversations. This subject could certainly do with a whole day for exploration!

We wondered upon the root causes of OD challenges and successes; is it quality of relationships? 

We thought it often seems to come down to the simple stuff; being together, listening and respecting, practising being present etc. Someone remarked that experiences we have in interactions emerge in the space between us, and neither party can control a two-way conversation.  Gervase Bushe’s concept of Interpersonal Mush [] was mentioned as a useful tool to help us untangle how people make up stories about each other which can get in the way of team performance.

This led to a brief conversation about a central paradox in O.D. On the one had we are individuals with free will, making our own choices acting autonomously from sense of personal identity. And yet on the other hand, if we are co-constructing our experiences together, and if we are socially constructing our realities together, we can seem not to be independent discrete individuals, more like selves-in-relationship. If conversations and human relationships are at the heart of OD work, then how we show up will influence client outcomes. Yet there are  many levels to conversations, and trying to work out cause and effect is nearly impossible. This ended with the idea that depending on how we experience ourselves and each other, we can affect how we treat each other. This would be great to explore further.

Community building was explored: we discussed how we experienced our gathering, and how was it an example of community. We reflected that we were sharing experiences and learning informally. The work of Marshall Ganz was mentioned [he successfully organized the grassroots community campaigns that Obama elected in 2008- a good example of his thinking here []. Peter Block's work on community organizing called the Structure of Belonging was also mentioned. And there were some thoughts about how we could bring these ideas to life and grow our own ODNE community.

The next SE gathering will be on 26th September in central London, drop me a note or give me a call if you would like to join us.

Warm regards

Julian Burton - 077 9000 7560