Learning Lab Conversation Series


KDVI’s Learning Lab Conversations are a space for reflection, shared experience and discovery about leadership in the face of extreme uncertainty and disruption, in order to unlock the energy and imagination required to navigate choppy waters effectively.

Autumn 2020 - Client Learning Lab Series
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The unfolding pandemic has been a hugely emotional journey for individuals and organisations. Trends already emerging for the future of work have accelerated, creating new demands to rapidly evolve, not just adapt to survive. The Labs provide a space to step back and take stock of where you are, and look ahead to where you want to lead your organisation. Gain insights from our research and practice and join in an exchange of experiences and solutions in peer learning groups. This learning lab series is by invitiation only. Find out more about customised Workplace Wellbeing Learning Labs.


Taking stock of crisis, culture and new ways of working
Facilitated by Claire Pointing
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You’ve entered a new phase of dealing with the impact of COVID-19 – a ‘change point’ from managing the crisis to planning what’s next. It’s easy to be drawn into the certainty of processes, but are your people ready to adopt new ways of working, or are they struggling emotionally and practically in the face of continued disruption and uncertainty? Where is your culture after months of crisis, and how well are you maintaining psychological safety for the creation of new solutions?

Generating Healthy Performance
Facilitated by Caroline Rook and Thomas Hellwig
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The second wave of COVID has been characterised as a mental health crisis. The risk of burnout and loss of talent are rising. You can see that your people are experiencing high levels of stress and yet you have less access to them to understand how they are doing and how you can help. How do you incorporate tackling stress into developing and managing people remotely and what skills in particular are needed?

Cultivating Resilience in Times of Crisis
Facilitated by Graham Ward
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Your resilience is being put to the test through the tsunami of change, uncertainty and loss created by the pandemic. Pace and stamina can be hard to maintain indefinitely. It takes resilient leaders to create resilient organisations. How do you cultivate resilience in yourself and in your organisation?


“The Chinese word for crisis is a combination of two characters: these are often translated as ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’. However, this is a mistranslation - the first character wēi does indeed mean ‘dangerous’ or ‘precarious’, but the second, character jī does not mean ‘opportunity’ in isolation, but something more like ‘change point.’”  Victor H Mair

Spring 2020 Learning Lab series

Curated in response to the COVID pandemic by Associates Claire PointingGraham Ward and Alicia Cheak. The series was open to all and free of charge. Content and learnings from the sessions was sythesized and recorded - see the sidebar of this page for related links. 

Session 1 - A psychodynamic approach to helping people lead through crisis

Professor Manfred Kets de Vries and senior lecturer Elizabeth Florent kick off KDVI’s Learning Lab Conversation Series with a Q&A session. Most leaders are not great examples of rationality at the best of times, and today's pressures only make this worse. The leader’s shadow side—his or her internal fears, disillusionments, or past demons— can prevent movement and change. The challenge for leaders is to find the courage and energy to break through their self-imposed limitations, a prerequisite for getting the best out of their people. 

Session 2 - Success & failure in crisis: Balancing EQ & IQ

During this leaning lab we want to further explore the importance of IQ and EQ for leaders especially in crises, shock and disasters. These are the moments for leaders to emerge and show their real character. How can we find our own role balancing IQ and EQ and accompany these leaders?​

Session 3 - What are the fault lines that are appearing as a reaction to the crisis?

This interactive session will start with a brief overview of the concept of fault lines and their associated “rackets”. Based on the concept geological fault lines that occur in nature where there is a gap in ground or surface due to the movement of tetonic plates, organizational fault lines arise when there is a split or difference of opinion on a divisive issue.  As a result, there is often increased internal conflict and process losses which ultimately result in decreased performance with serious consequences for the members of that organization.  In such situations, rackets will inevitably surface along the different sides of the faultlines, each side blaming the “others” and thereby denying and avoiding taking any responsibility for the current situation. Just as geological fault lines are formed as a consequence of increased stress, organizational fault lines appear during times of increased organizational or team stress. Situations such as the Covid-19 virus create an outstanding opportunity for fault lines to form and rackets to surface.  Being aware of the potential for fault lines during times of increased stress enables us to avoid the trap of blaming others and provides the opportunity for working collaboratively in order to address the emergent crisis in a constructive manner.

Session 4 - Which genies are out of the bottle (never to be re-interred!)

We are interested in exploring whether profound and imposed changes can override inherent resistance to adopt new ways of being. Have any genies been let out of the bottle and granted wishes that will live beyond our current crisis reality?

The COVID 19 crisis has resulted in significant structural changes for many of us in how we live and work. These changes are in large part imposed rather than a free and conscious choice by leaders or individuals. The usual option of explicit resistance to change  or the even more popular approach of combining lip service with careful sabotage is not an option for those would would normally resist any digression from “business as usual”.

These are not normal times but when the crisis eases and a sense of individual choice returns, will we discover that at an organisational and personal level we have been in a state of suspended animation and try to revert back to old comfort zones? 

Our question focuses on looking at the impact the crisis will have on our professional and personal behaviours - where will we land in the spectrum of "Business as Usual" vs "New Normal?" 

One the one hand, has the veneer of imposed, no-option change masked the reality that many tend to emotionally resist change when it takes us into uncharted territory.  On the other, has the crisis forced an exposure of outmoded and entrenched behaviours that are not fit for purpose and actually create inefficient and imbalanced outcomes?

Session 5 - Social Connection and Resilience​

Never before, in most of our lifetimes, have we been witness to human interconnectedness in the way it is unfolding during this pandemic. Mental health, overall well-being and happiness are strengthened as we reach out across vast geographies through old fashioned phone calls, virtual happy hours, neighborhood walks, and a myriad of creative gatherings. While none of us would wish to be reminded of how crucial social relationships are through lessons learned in a global health crisis, maybe it’s a “blessing in disguise” to have to think about connecting in a way that we take for granted in “normal” times.  This experience is shaking all of us out of complacency, or our automatic mindsets and behaviors, into a stunning and possibly unfamiliar wakefulness. 

This Learning Lab is an opportunity to reflect on the importance of social connection. As we move together through the next few months and possibly longer, let’s understand the importance of reaching out and listening to the emotions of our friends, family, employees and strangers in a way that keeps our hearts as well as our minds open.  Let’s be mindful that we can continue to strengthen relationships in simple ways.

Session 6 - The Connectivity Paradox – Mental Health Challenges of Remote Working

Before the Covid-19 crisis, we were already hyper-connected: working from home, staying up to date and being close to friends and colleagues with the help of the likes of Zoom, Slack, Twitter Instagram, Whatsapp, Facebook and Linkedin. Now these digital communication technologies are our saviour! They help us keep on working and not to fall into complete social isolation despite physical distancing measures. Everyone is really only just one click away! But are our digital devices and communication apps always our friend during this stressful time? This webinar explores the challenges of remote working for mental health and creates reflection points on how to support positive mental health at work.