Saying goodbye to the US
All of a sudden it was our last day in the US. We have been living in a kind of vacuum the past week, without a clear sense of time or the world outside of our small ‘Study Tour Universe’.
Bringing all the insights together
After nine visits, in which we talked to 31 people for a total of 1071 minutes, we were quite overwhelmed with all the input and ideas that came from those conversations. How to make sense of all that input and somehow combine it into a product? Because of course we want to make something. We decided to dedicate two hours of our last day in Austin to this. It was quite amazing to experience how we quickly came up with three main categories of findings and even made a table of contents for the article we are going to write about our study tour. We also managed to make a neat time-line and a clear division of tasks. Nothing can go wrong now. As soon as we will leave the airplane, get out of our study tour no-man’s-land; at least we have some clear actions to complete in the real world back home.
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the city of Austin. It was pretty difficult to figure out how Austin worked; what is the centre of the city? And, even more importantly for five women travelling together, where is the neighbourhood with nice boutiques? We ended up in a bagel bar next to the University of Texas to have our lunch. With a bit of research we managed to find South Congress - a very nice street - with a lot of vintage and gift shops. We weren’t quite sure, were we going to buy the white Texan cowboy hat or would it be better to have the very expensive boots… in the end we liked our Manhattan-look better. We ended the day with a closing dinner at sunset overlooking the Colorado River. What a beautiful view! We each shared our personal experiences with American culture. From the different pace of New York and Austin, to the ways of connecting with local people and our curiosities related to coffee, shoe sizes and fajitas.
On the plane
We got up early Saturday morning to catch our flight from Austin to New York. On our layover on JFK Airport we ended our week together in style: with delicious burgers and a history line-conversation on how our study tour came about. We revisited the moment Joeri and Suzanne first thought of the Study Tour at Suzanne’s kitchen table in January, the moments when the others were invited to join the trip and the conversations leading up to the trip. And of course the week we spent together in the US. We all enjoyed the way we each managed to step in the journey and were in sync as a group. We explicitly valued the way we had this reflective conversation - we just love talking and saying nice things about ourselves. As Nancy Dixon shared in one of our meetings: “Shared experience is the closest we can get to common understanding. Shared reflection and sense-making of the shared experience is key.”
And now that we have closed our journey together in this way, we have all started thinking about the transition to our ‘normal lives’ during our seven our flight from New York to Amsterdam. The airplane will touch down in Amsterdam in only a few minutes. Goodbye Study Tour!
This weblog is part of series of blogs. At this moment, Mara Spruyt, Joeri Kabalt, Suzanne Verdonschot, Marloes de Jong and Lieve Scheepers visit the US. During this study tour we visit various organizations and scholars to learn more about the way organizational conversations contribute to change. We are conducting this research in cooperation with Nancy Dixon, a US researcher who studies and writes about collective sensemaking (nancydixonblog.com) in organizations. In this series of blogs we share our experiences.