For me inter vision is one of the most valuable forms of counseling. I’m in the lucky position that I am part of an inter vision group that exists since 1999. In 1998/1999 I followed a change management course. To aid us in the individual learning process they formed inter vision groups. After the course finished we merged two inter vision groups into one and started with seven people. Now 12 years later we are still active, have 5 members and meet 4 or 5 times per year. Most of the time we deal with professional questions and problems, sometimes there is a more private subject.
How does it work?
One of the members of the group comes up with a question and you organize a dialog (no discussion) around this question. It takes about an hour to deal with one question. The discussion is strictly organized by using a specific method/format. There are a whole bundle of them, but most of the times we use the ‘Ten steps method’.
|Step 1||Owner explains situation and formulates question|
|Step 2||Assistants ask questions to clarify the situation|
|Step 3||Assistants reformulate the question (write them down)|
|Step 4||Owner categorizes the questions in warm, neutral and cold (no discussion)|
|Step 5||Owner answers the warm questions (no discussion)|
|Step 6||Assistants ask questions to get more in depth insight|
|Step 7||Assistants reformulate the question of the owner (write them down)|
|Step 8||Owner reformulates his question|
|Step 9||Assistants give advice|
Through this method you will find the question behind the question and you will gain new insights in your problem/question. The great thing is that the other group members will look at your question from perspectives you never even considered, thus creating new openings and possibilities.
Organizing the dialog in a structural way is very important. In our group we got more and more informal, after a few years we were more a group of friends then an inter vision group. We lost the structure and paid for it dearly; it led to some bad results. After that we went back to the structure and the results are astonishing. We never again had a bad session or came up with a bad advice.
Structure is one, you can have an process leader who guards the process and doesn’t participate, we always assign that task to somebody of the group, so he or she has two roles. This works fine for us. Trust is definitely another requirement. If the group isn’t save it will not work. The group I have has no connection with my private life or my work. This makes it very easy, whatever you say, there is no negative impact on your every day live. But you have to trust each group member on a personal level. The third element of success is probably the composition of the group. Our group of five has in common that we followed the same course 12 years ago and our ages are more or less the same. But for the rest we are as different as we can be, both on a personal level as on a professional level. This adds a lot to the value. The last thing is that we got to know each other very well and we know each others history, therefore we can refer to issues from the past; old patterns are often visible to the others but not to yourself.
All in all, I can recommend this to everybody. It really is one of the most valuable personal learning methods I know.