New Context provides a wide range of experiential, application-oriented training programs and training design services that enhance individual, team, and organizational performance.

Training Design Services

In addition to the training programs described later on this page, which are often custom-tailored to client needs, New Context also has a great deal of experience collaborating with internal people on the design and delivery of leading-edge training programs. Our design expertise is typically utilized in one of two ways:

• Collaborating on programs "designed from scratch" to client specifications (sometimes incorporating customized modules from our existing training programs).
• Collaborating on programs where we come in as one or two day contributors to a larger initiative.

These programs have supported many different development initiatives and addressed a variety of organizational issues. Although some of these programs have been for front-line employees, most have been for upper and middle management.

We have also been design and delivery partners with other training and consulting firms, for one-day workshops and whole-week residential programs. We welcome the challenge of developing innovative, seamless, experiential designs and working collaboratively with creative colleagues.

Our training design work with companies in the US, Canada, and Europe has included projects with Ashland Chemical, AT&T Bell Labs, Chase Manhattan Bank, McKinsey, SE Banken, Seagram, Scott Paper, and Unilever.

The Organization Workshop ™

All New Context consultant/trainers are licensed to lead the OrganizationWorkshop, a dynamic, fast-paced simulation developed by Barry Oshry of Power & Systems, Inc. It is based on a unique whole-systems perspective that is described in Oshry's book, Seeing Systems. This workshop gives participants direct experience and remarkably clear information about the systemic forces in organizations that prevent real partnership and empowerment, inhibiting people at all levels from taking appropriate leadership and initiative. It also shows how to exercise the leadership needed to empower teams and organizations and to create partnership across organizational boundaries and between customers and suppliers.

The Organization Workshop™ is designed for, and can accommodate, a wide variety of participant groups -- intact teams, cross-functional groups, project teams, executive and management teams, and start-up groups, among others. Key internal and external customers and suppliers can also be invited to participate, lending an additional level of "whole system learning."

Over the past ten years, this workshop has been conducted with many thousands of employees from top to bottom in a wide variety of organizations -- from non-profits and small businesses to Fortune 100 multi-national companies -- in many different industries, including manufacturing, service, high technology, health care, the military, government agencies, universities, and religious institutions. It consistently stimulates and challenges individuals and organizations to reach beyond current habits to the practices needed to develop flexible, innovative and customer-sensitive systems.

Usual length: 1-2 days. For 20-50 people.


MiddlePower uses an engrossing simulation developed by Barry Oshry of Power & Systems, Inc., to develop a clear picture of the organizational dynamics impacting on the effectiveness of middle management. Drawing on the insights built into this simulation, MiddlePower presents compelling and straight-forward strategies executives and managers can use to turn the middle spot into a critically influential component of the learning company. The Dilbert stereotype of middle managers as dead weight has become all too common place. Many companies have come to regret their decision to downsize middle management ranks to the point of extinction. The MiddlePower provides insight into the systemic forces that can conspire to turn middle management jobs into no-win positions, and it lays out a plan to put middles where they belong: right in the center of the action in organizations.

Usual length: Half-day to one day. For 15-40 people.

Customized Management Training Programs using the Organization Workshop™
We have also worked with client organizations to custom-designed corporate training programs that incorporate key aspects of the Organization Workshop, tailoring each program to meet specific company requirements. One of the customized programs we helped design and deliver at Ashland Chemical received the "Vision for Performance Improvement Award" from the American Society for Training and Development. A training module we designed for another company was the highest-rated component of their overall middle-management training program.

The System Time-Out Process

New Context Consulting also provides an activity for intact groups, based on the conceptual framework of the Organization Workshop, that has been very effective either as:

• As a follow-up activity that directly applies workshop learnings to important business issues, or
• As a stand-alone organizational problem-solving intervention.

Usual length: 1 day. For 15-25 people.

Personal Mastery & Leadership Effectiveness

This extremely popular workshop focuses on the following individual skills: Leadership (both organizational and team-level), communication, creative-thinking, empowerment, building consensus amidst diverse viewpoints, and facilitating team learning. It provides a non-threatening process for participants to identify their own strengths, limitations, and styles, and learn how to work with others different than themselves.

Each participant brings a specific problem or project and applies each skill learned to this real-world issue, during and after the workshop. This program utilizes a wide range of experiential learning methodologies, including the option of video feedback. (We designed this workshop with Creative Learning Consultants, an affiliated firm in London. Parts of the workshop are described in The Creative Manager by Roger Evans and Peter Russell).

This program has been used with great success as a training component in larger organizational change efforts.

Usual length: 3-and-one-half days. Up to 16 participants.

Team Mastery

This is a powerful team-building/team-skills program for in-tact teams. It creates a fast-paced, challenging, learning environment where participants work on a real-world team project and at the same time learn the principles and skills of high-performance teamwork. They create a shared vision and operating values for their current project and their future work. They decide on the specific, concrete measures they will use to evaluate their success. They clarify team roles, and they learn to recognize, value and draw out each person's unique talents and perspective. They learn the principles and practice of the Dialogue Process (highlighted in The Fifth Discipline) as a way to develop common ground and an understanding of the systemic forces at play in the group. They apply creative-thinking perspectives and methods to their project, and they learn how to manage disagreements and how to embrace divergent approaches as part of the group's creative process. Participants leave with clear action plans and responsibilities for post-training project work.

This training is appropriate for teams that are in the formation stage, existing teams, or related teams working on similar or diverse projects within the same company.

Usual length: 3 days. For one in-tact team or several related teams.

Facilitation For Results

This facilitation-skills program has been very useful both for team-leaders and for human resource people moving into facilitation roles. It has also been used to train consultants in ways to improve their planning and facilitation of client meetings.

In addition to teaching all the basic design and facilitation skills for highly effective, interactive group meetings, Facilitation for Results goes beyond the basics to include: How to move groups through collaborative problem-solving, surface underlying group issues, intervene in difficult situations, and resolving group conflict. It also helps participants examine the attitudes and mind-sets they bring to the facilitation role.

This workshop utilizes self-assessments, case studies, role plays, and individual and small group exercises. It also provides videotaped practice sessions that give each participant the opportunity to facilitate a problem-solving group. Each person can use their own videotape for continued review and learning after the workshop. Optional individual feedback sessions with a Facilitation for Results trainer are also available. These sessions typically include some feedback on the participant's videotape.

Usual length: 2-3 days. Up to 18 participants.

Collaboration Skills

This is an excellent, application-oriented training that covers both the basics of effective communication and the more sophisticated influence skills needed for collaborative problem-solving. “Collaboration Skills” is the term we use for the “advocacy and inquiry” skills developed by Chris Argyris and Don Schon, and more recently popularized in Peter Senge's The Fifth Discipline. Trained directly by Argyris and Schon, we have been teaching these skills with very good results for almost 20 years. Clients have used this program to develop substantially increase teamwork within and between groups, and to create an organizational culture characterized increased trust and more open communication.

This program utilizes case studies of challenging interactions, drawn from the everyday work lives of the participants. They not only receive constructive feedback on their usual behavior patterns, but also have repeated opportunities to practice new skills. They leave the training with a specific action plan that includes built-in support for continued application and learning.

Usual length: 2 days. Up to 18 participants.

The Collaboration Workshop

As an optional follow-up to Collaboration Skills, we also offer a more intensive training that takes people to a more advanced level. In this workshop, each person receives detailed feedback on an “interpersonal case” from their own experience, role-plays the application of new skills to their case situation, and receives expert

Usual length: 3 days, plus 1-day follow-up session. For 8 participants.

The Collaboration Skills Learning Group

An optional follow-up process, either for Collaboration Skills or for the Collaboration Workshop, the Learning Group provides a forum for the on-going the learning and application of Collaboration Skills.

Usual length: One-half day, once/month for 4 months. For about 8 people.

The Collaboration Skills for Effective Consulting

We originally developed this program in response to management consulting firms who asked that we teach Collaboration Skills to their consultants, adding some additional modules relevant to the client-consultant relationship. The skills learned in this workshop are relevant to anyone who needs to influence and partner with people over whom they have no formal authority. This program has received excellent evaluations by participants and therefore has been used on a repeat basis.

Like Collaboration Skills, this workshop is permeated with work on real-world case-studies. For example, one case-study, with a basis in actual experiences in the consulting firm, is used throughout the workshop. In addition, each person works on one of their real-world projects and also gets feedback on an “interpersonal case” that comes from their own experience of a challenging consulting interaction.

Usual length: 2 days. Up to 18 participants.

Follow-up Workshop and Learning Group formats are available here as well.

The Art and Practive of Coaching

We developed this program at the request of a worldwide strategy consulting firm that wanted to increase the quality of coaching within its own organization. This workshop incorporates the Collaboration Skills described above and also teaches all the basics of coaching. It defines coaching as a learning conversation that can be carried on not only with subordinates but also with peers and even with people at higher levels of the hierarchy. The pilot program at this consulting firm was so successful that it was subsequently used worldwide.

Usual length: 2 days. Up to 18 participants.

Follow-up Workshop and Learning Group formats are available here as well.