case study: Blues Interactive
The Client: Division of a global consulting firm
The Event: Changing the Face of the Practice—a forum on unconscious bias; 2 days--Miami, FL
The Participants: 125 people from across the division, self-selected to address the issues, and division leadership
The Message: Dive into how unconscious bias impacts the business and make conscious changes
The Plan: Experiential learning thorough blues songwriting, deep debrief, skits and presentations on the nature of unconscious bias
The Outcome: Shared learning amongst the whole group; deep conversations that led to shared understanding; a sense of energy and excitement about what can be accomplished going forward; and an action plan to take back and make changes.
Though they have already done quite a bit of work in the diversity and inclusion area, it was clear that unconscious bias was affecting how women and minorities were being promoted and assigned. Their express intent was to change the conversation, the frame of reference, and the way that they operate. They brought in Face The Music to help do that, to bring methods that are creative, cutting edge, and facilitate a new discussion in a way that keeps the focus while reframing the topics.
The forum opens with a symbolic gathering of the band—the drummer laying down a beat, a lone trumpet sounds from the back of the ballroom, walking through the tables. When she takes the stage, one of our guitarists starts a solo walking in from the long stage left across to join the band. The rest of the band joins in one at a time.
The purpose of this opening was to show that this conference was going to be different—opening the morning with an 8-piece band? Different! There was also the metaphor of the band coming together one by one, of how different one or two of the instruments sound from when the whole group starts playing together in layers of complimentary parts.
The next FTM appearance was a different medium for most of us—acting in three skits/scenarios/vignettes along with our Q Creative partners that illustrated examples of how unconscious bias can manifest.
Later in the afternoon, we got into the FTM blues songwriting session. There was a great escalation of energy as the process unfolded, and a bit of competition as well as the groups could feed off the energy of their counterparts in the room. The blues was a great format to express the issues at hand.
The performances were slated for after dinner that night—12 groups—and it was an excellent collection of songs, styles, choreography, and good lyrics about the topic at hand. The audience enthusiastically lauded, applauded, hooted, and hollered as the unique and original set was presented. We also had the welcome surprise of some excellent singers in a couple of the groups.
The next morning was a debrief of the song process and lyrics. This was a pivotal point in the group process where they went to a new level of candor and confrontation around the issues—the “tough conversations that they had been saying needed to happen. The courage and initiative of the leadership and the participants in taking this on and making the time to have these discussions that are expanding their collective consciousness to new places was powerful and inspiring.