The Benefits of Business Intervision
Why every entrepreneur should join business intervision.
Many people do know the word ‘intervision‘ mainly from their education, like their training to become a professional coach, therapist or counselor. In such courses you are often encouraged or obliged to form a group during the training program to practise what you have learned. It is called Intervision.
The goal of intervision is to promote professional and personal growth.
‘Intervision gives you understanding, recognition and reflection in an in-depth and developing way.’
In this article I will cover:
- What intervision is
- Which roles are used in intervision
- Intervision for Entrepreneurs
- The types of issues that are suitable for intervision
- The various levels of learning within intervision
- The specific role of the facilitator
- The phases of the intervision process
- 3 commonly used intervision methods highlighted
- how to start your own intervision group
The common definition of intervision
‘Intervision is the discussion of an issue of a coworker in a group of professionals. By asking helpful questions, the case owner is helped to gain insight into his own problem and into the possibilities for new actions and the associated actions. A facilitator guides the process. An intervision group is normally 5 to 8 people.’
This is the definition as used in the Intervision Practice Book of Bellersen and Kohlmann.
I myself have a lot of experience with various forms of intervision. Both personal and businesswise. I think intervision is great! It was also a regular part of my training at ITIP and Phoenix in the Netherlands between 2006 and 2012.
Before that, as an (HR)manager in government employment, I joined intervision and also supervised many and various groups while I was the facilitator. Later on I will tell more about the different roles people have in the intervision group.
Since 5 years I have been a participant of a small business intervision group myself. 4 times a year we have met eachother and we have discussed our issues about ourselves as an entrepreneur and about our companies. We also practice situations so that we will grow and learn in our businesses and get working on our personal issues.
I have been experiencing intervision, both as a participant as well as a facilitator, very valuable each time. It gives me a new starting point about issues that are in my mind. 4 entrepreneurs obviously always know more than 1. Besides that it gives a good energy to feel that we contribute and help ourselves and eachother.
I also like it that we recognize questions or issues. To know that I am not the only one who runs into (sometimes the same!) issues. What I also like about it, is that we choose to say whatever needs to be said so we are very clear to eachother.
So what is generally meant by intervision? Let’s dive deeper into it.
Intervision is meant to cause conscious change. It’s about growing your expertise. Professionals who will gain a lot of new insights into work- or training-related issues. Again and again.
In intervision, people work with a fixed group and with a choosen method as a guide. This means that intervision is not a social gathering.
Intervision is applied in companies, in teams, in organizations and in education.
The roles within intervision
Intervision is led by a facilitator. Later in this article I will tell more about this specific role of the facilitator.
In addition, one person will introduce his case. There are participants and optional work is done with observers. The roles are agreed in advance. All roles will change per intervision session, except for the facilitator.
- Intervision is focused on expertise promotion
- In the sessions you work together with colleagues or co-workers
- In the sessions you regularly reflect on how you deal with matters and their effects
- The goal is to gain insights into your professional or work-related issues
- With a systematic method as a guide
- By asking questions, the case owner is encouraged to get a clear view of his question
- the starting point is the resolving ability of the questioner
- intervision is a committal event
- the ideal group size is 5 to 8 people in a fixed composition
Intervision, supervision and masterminding
In addition to ‘intervision‘, other concepts are also used or misused. Likewise, the term ‘supervision‘ is often used. Supervision however, has a different starting point and indicates a hierarchy. For example, a supervisor can be a student from a further year. Teachers and mentors can also take this role. Where in intervision the roles are divided equally and there is a facilitator, in supervision there is a always certain hierarchy.
The word ‘mastermind‘ is also often confused with intervision. In a mastermind situation you are sparring with others and there is no leader of the session. Masterminds normally don’t also work with a fixed method.
How would it appeal to you if there is a structure where entrepreneurs interact with each other?
In order to get to know what is happening in the area of intervision among entrepreneurs, I have done some research into this.
I wanted to know, among other things, whether entrepreneurs know intervision and to what extent entrepreneurs have joined intervision groups. I also wanted to know how successful they have experienced their intervision and what they encounter in this.
Herefor I conducted a survey among a group of solo entrepreneurs. I was also curious whether there was a market for business intervision, because I wanted to offer that as a service.
During the interviews and through the questions I asked the entrepreneurs, I discovered intervision in the field of business:
- that many entrepreneurs do not know what intervision exactly is
- that many entrepreneurs do know intervision, but only from their education
- a number of entrepreneurs have had good experiences with intervision
- that most intervision groups have stopped as soon as the education was completed
- that some entrepreneurs have started their own intervision group themselves
Of the group I mentioned here, most groups did not go any further or actively stopped at one point,
The main reasons for stopping the intervision groups were:
- the ‘expiration date’ was over and the composition of the group had changed.
- It was also mentioned that the depth in the sessions decreased and that the previously agreed methods were abandoned.
Intervision for entrepreneurs
Solo entrepreneurs have the need to grow. Both personally and with their company. Of course, entrepreneurs also regularly wonder if they are on the right course, they are looking for tools to grow further and they want to review their vision, for example. These are types of questions that many entrepreneurs will recognize.
“Specially when you are not doing a coaching or an training program at this moment, you are really missing out on the issues to discuss. If you are like me and have been following a lot of education, training and workshops the recent years, your level of knowledge has increased enormously. We always have a range of options to choose from. Step-by-step plans, manuals, books, and internet full of workshops, webinars and challenges.”
It is time to implement what we all know, right? Intervision can be useful whereby you simultaneously share your knowledge.
Besides intervision, what are the alternatives to grow with your business?
Network meetings have a different character and do not always offer the safety to share your problem with others. Another alternative is to talk one-on-one with collegue entrepreneurs and help each other in an exchange. However, it is not always easy to find a like-minded entrepreneur who is open to this. Moreover, not everyone possesses the specific skills to help others. Business intervision can be a wonderful and accessible possibility to promote your growth and the growth of your company.
Typical questions to bring to intervision are:
- Awareness of your approach in your entrepreneurship: you gain insight into your professional views.
- You are helping yourself and eachother to discover and clarify these beliefs
- by increasing your awareness you can realize improvements
- you want to test a certain approach and you ask for feedback on this
- you want to develop specific competences such as improving your sales qualities
- you want to experiment with a new idea
- you want to grow personally and with your business.
“As a business coach, I am sure that intervision can make an essential contribution to the growth of you. as an entrepreneur and to the development of your company.”
What are the advantages and disadvantages of Business Intervision compared to ‘other’ types of intervision?
Intervision with entrepreneurs does have one common characteristic and that is that you are fellow professionals. Professionals in entrepreneurship. When you are a solo entrepreneur, you have to solve your own problems. You may feel that only you do have this issue. Intervision gives you recognition as well. After all, many entrepreneurs run into the same issues.
“December 2016. I am recovering from a flu and in that flu period I had a number of insights. One of these insights was that I felt more than ever what I had to do as an entrepreneur, what I really have to offer the world. I put this as a case in my intervision group and it was a nice discovery that they all recognized this. I felt a lot less alone in entrepreneurship.”
In contrast to intervision in companies, organizations and teams, as an entrepreneur you are able to make the conscious choice to participate in intervision. This motivation works to strengthen the group as a whole. In fact, I think it is a condition for successful intervision.
Unfortunately, it is still a regular occurrence that within companies, employees are required to join an intervision group for their professional growth. Altough it is good that companies do support the growth of their staff, in my opinion, this is comparable to require people to follow a course or a training instead of choosing so for themselves. In this case it requires a lot of effort from the facilitator to lead this in the right direction (or not to accept the assignment at all).
As an entrepreneur you have the choice to start an intervision group or to join an existing intervision group. You also have the choice to set up intervision yourself. Or as a group to be guided by a facilitator.
In my survey, some entrepreneurs mentioned as a possible risk that if someone else hears your idea, someone else could be acting dishonoust and ‘steal’ it. For instance, telling about your new business idea. Or that your company does not run as well as other people think or see on socil media. This affects trust, of course. That is why one of the conditions for successful intervision is to make clear agreements. About how confidential information is dealt with, for example. And also how everyone’s safety in the group is guaranteed. Safeguarding this is the task of the facilitator.
Business intervision: conscious change.
Intervision also means: conscious change. As a professional, you appeal to your fellow entrepreneurs to gain insight into issues that have to do with your company. Or yourself in your company. In intervision a certain method is always used. The participants do not offer solutions. What they do, is stimulate the case owner to gain insights into his own problem from his own resolving capacity. Intervision is therefore always connected with improvement. To improve you as an individual and to improve your business. Central issues can be: your approach, your work style and personal and professional views. With intervision you are able to create awareness on your own personal style and views in your entrepreneurship.
“July 2012 – In the intervision session and to bring up a case, I am introducing that I have many ideas for my business, which I want to work out, but that I find it exciting to put my best idea into the world. The others ask me a few questions for clarification first. One of my intervisioners grabs a carpet, and tells me that this is the imaginary stage. I stand on the ‘podium’ and then receive applause from the others. I feel that it touches me and I discover that I find it exciting to be appreciated for the work I am doing for my clients.”
What kinds of issues are often included in business intervision?
In Business Intervision, there are many different questions to ask. Such as:
- My turnover is too low. How do I improve that?
- I do not know if I am still happy with what I offer as an entrepreneur. How do I find out?
- I am shocked by the sudden growth that my company is experiencing. How can I continue to oversee this?
- How do I motivate my client?
- What kind of collaboration is interesting for me?
- I doubt whether I want to work with staff or not. I would like to research what I encounter in this.
- I have an unpleasant experience with my client. How do I deal with this?
- I want to make an online offer for my clients, where do I start?
- I always find myself in the same issue of the shortage of money. How can I cope with this?
You can see that the questions can be on various levels. The challenge is to clarify ‘the question behind the question‘ in order to touch at a deeper layer where the actual change can take place.
This brings me to the 6 levels of learning (source: Bateson and Dilts).
How do I look?
- Where am I? (Environment)
- What do I do? (Behavior)
- What can I do? (Power)
- What do I believe in and what do I think? (Persuasiveness)
- What does this teach me about myself? (Identity / Spirituality)
- What do I want, what am I looking for? (Meaning, purpose and mission)
The usefulness of this model is that you can look at a problem on multiple layers. Not only the cognitive aspect, but also meaningfulness, for example.
The 3 levels of intervision level of the case:
- Concrete (single loop). Example: how could I work more effectively? What action could you take? The content is central here. The ‘how’.
- Level of the analysis: analysis (double loop). Example: Which method do you choose in which situation? Why does he choose this method? The contributor of the question is central here. The ‘why’.
- Level of the views: reflection (triple loop). Example: Which convictions are hidden in your question? What is the effect of this view on your question? The values and beliefs are central here. The “what”
(source: the 3 forms of learning – Swieringa and Wierdsma)
Even though you can do the intervision at all 3 levels, level 3, the triple loop, offers the real transformation and development. This is the level at which I not only in the coaching work, but also in the intervision groups. Not only because I prefer to work at this level, but also see that the real transformation takes place here through awareness. And that’s great
“After intensive intervision sessions of a number of months, it is clear to me that intervision does not only help me in terms of content and professionalism, it is also fun to do. We have unanimously decided to enter another intervision process with each other.”
The role of the facilitator
Each intervision group is led by a facilitator. The facilitator ensures the right conditions. And organizes, monitors and knows the methods. A good facilitator contributes to a large extent to the success of intervision. The facilitator is not a participant him- or herself.
- creates a ‘contract‘ in which it is agreed how to work with eachother, how we follow the process and what we can rely on together
- ensures safety, confidentiality and the right learning climate
- takes care of the group process and provides an open and learning atmosphere
- keeps the participants awake
- monitors the proper application of the intervision method
- intervenes and adjusts where necessary
- monitors what was agreed
- clarifies, monitors and supports the structure of the intervision process.
The phases in the intervision process
There are many methods to use in peer review. In general, you can distinguish six characteristic phases in each method, in addition to the preparation phase. These are the phases that are discussed in each method of intervision:
- Phase 0: The preparation phase
- Phase 1: Creating a view of the case holder in his situation
- Phase 2: The background of the case holder
- Phase 3: Validation of the case by the case holder
- Phase 4: Choosing a method of intervision
- Phase 5: Reflection
- Phase 6: Reporting
“Do not only talk with partners and friends, but also with fellow entrepreneurs whoare just a bit further away, but they are aware of the dilemmas of entrepreneurs.”
3 known and proven methods for intervision
There are many methods for intervision. The ‘Practice Book for Intervision’ gives no less than 27. Now I will discuss 3 methods that fit in well with working with intervision with entrepreneurs.
- The Gossip Method
- The Incident Method
- The Method of Organizational Constellations
The Gossip Method
This is a widely used method. The gossip method is good to use when the case owner clearly knows his issue. He wonders whether he might have a blind spot. In the gossip method, the participants ‘gossip’ about the case and the case holder. He does not actively participate in gossiping while he hears what is being said.
These are questions that fit with this method:
- What is the case of the case owner, what is my impression of this?
- What is the contribution of the case owner in the situation that has arisen?
- How come that this situation has arisen?
This method is suitable in a safe, trusted group. The tone of gossip must be concrete and respectful. The gossip method is also suitable for inexperienced groups and for a facilitor who is experienced with intervision in general, but not yet with the gossip method.
The steps of the gossip method
1. Preparation: the case initiator talks beforehand with the facilitator and sends his case to the group in advance through email.
2. Description of the case: case holder explains his case.
3. ‘Gossip’ part: Case-holder goes outside the group, while he can hear the people talking. Group members ‘gossip’ and discuss what is going on. No advice or solutions are given. The case holderremains silent and writes down what affects him the most.
4. Insights of case holder: case holder tells what has touched him the most and what has given him the biggest insight. He tells what issue he will work out further. The facilitator takes care of the process and the quality.
5. Insight participants: participants write their insights gained for themselves. What have they learned?
6. Reflection on intervision: facilitator reflects with case holder and participants. What were the results of talking about the case? In which way was the case a learning situation?
The Incident Method
The incident method is ideally suited for discussing an incident that has evoked a strong emotion among the case owner. The actions of the case holder are central here. An important aspect of the incident method is that the case holderdoes not tell the outcomeof the incident and that the situation has taken place recently. The incident method is very concrete. By applying this method, the group is able to analyze a certain approach or strategy around a problem. The incident method is also suitable for inexperienced groups and for facilitators with less experience in intervision in general and specifically with this method.
The steps of the incident method
- Preparation: case holder prepares the case. He ends with the intervision question ‘my question is ..’ He does not record how the situation ended. He sends the case to the group after he has discussed the case with the facilitator.
- Description of the incident: the caseholder outlines the incident, short and factual in his own words. He also mentions his feelings. He tells how the incident came about, what his involvement was, what he wanted to achieve and what he did exactly. The participants try to place themselves in the feeling and thoughts of the case holder. They do not ask questions, but just write down the facts and their thoughts. They do not come up with solutions.
- Ask questions: participants ask questions they have noted. They search for the role, the actions and the position of the case owner. The questions should provide more insight into the actual situation. The case holder listens carefully to the questions and gives strictly factual answers, as briefly and powerfully as possible.
- Discussing the situation: participants discuss the case as if they were the case holder themselves. They use “I” in their questions. They make connections and interpret them. The participants give their opinion on, among other things, what the situation is, what motivations there were, what position the case holder took and what convictions, norms and values played a role as well. The case owner does not participate in this discussion. He looks, listens and notes what appeals to him. He finally gives a short reaction.
- Discussion phase: all participants, including case holder, note for themselves what their attitude would be in this situation and will tell what they would do in turn. No questions are asked and no comments are given.
- Insights of case holder and actions: case holder tells what he did himself and explains the connection with the alternatives mentioned by the others. What fits best with his situation? Could he have applied it himself? What will he do?
- Insight participants: participants write down what they have learned from this case. It can be about the preferred style or about stimulating or obstructing questions.
- Reflection on the intervision: facilitator reflects with case holder and participants. The reflection is focused on results of the case study, learning situation and success of the incident method.
The method of organization constellations
One of my favorites ?
Organization constellations, also known as systemic work, is derived as a methodology from family constellations. That is a method to which Bert Hellinger especially contributed. The basic principles of systemic work are:
- bonding: everyone has the same right to a place in the system
- order: in the system there is a hierarchy
- balance: ‘giving and taking’, versus ‘getting’ are in balance.
Dynamics arise when for one reason or another, one or more of these ‘laws‘ in a system are in danger. If you make the comparison with your company as a system, these symptoms point to these dynamics:
- the entrepreneur loses his decisiveness
- the entrepreneur feels a lack of leadership
- goals are not achieved or there is a lack of focus
- the entrepreneur has difficulty with limits
- there are (subconscious) conflicts between the entrepreneur and customers
With an organization constellation these dynamics can come to light and solutions become visible. Energy can start to flow again and the entrepreneur can continue. Such a constellation is a representation of the company. The participants are the representatives and they do not need to know anything about the company or the issue. This is how the problem is formulated, in which it is felt and observed.
The steps of the organizational constellations method
- Preparation of the case: the case holder discusses the case in advance with the facilitator. The case is not circulated before the session.
- Preparing participants: the facilitator prepares himself and the group for the constellation. The minds are emptied and this way the group can be started with an open mind.
- Description of the case: the facilitator asks the case owner to describe the case and the question in a few sentences. The most important elements are shown.
- Inventory of the elements: the facilitator indicates which elements he wants to have in the constellation. You can think of: a representative for the entrepreneur himself, someone for the customer, someone for a deciding authority, someone for that part of the company where the attention of the case owner goes, someone for the company or for the purpose of the company.
- Do the constellation: the facilitator asks the case owner to select the representatives from the participants one by one and ask whether they want to represent that element. The participant may refuse. The facilitator then allows the case owner to give the representative a place in the room, according to his own feelings. Finally, the case handler establishes a representative for himself in the system.
- Experiencing: the case owner, who does not participate in the set-up himself, looks at the view that has arisen. The facilitator asks questions to the case owner and then the representatives. Especially the actual and the sensory perception is important. For example, he looks at how far or near the representatives are from each other, what the facial expressions are and other physical observations.
- Inventory and change: the facilitator checks which change in the system has what effect. In this way, representatives are moved and a number of positions are ‘tested’. This creates a view of the case about possible positions in relation to other elements. Example: the representative standing in front of ‘the customer’ can indicate that he is worried about the fact that the entrepreneur is very close to him. By taking a step back, ‘the customer’ can indicate how that feels in relation to the first situation.
- (Optional) Case holder takes place: optionally the case holder can take the fysical place of the representative. This will allow new insights to arise with the case holder.
- Insights of case handler and completion: the facilitator carefully completes the constellation. The case holder thanks the representatives individually. The facilitator sees to it that the representatives separate themselves from the energy they have just been in.
- Insight of the participants: the participants write for themselves what their insights are. What have they learned?
- Reflection on intervision: the facilitator reflects with the case holder and the participants at the intervision session. What are the results of the case? What are the results of this method?
The method of organizational constellations is suitable for more experienced groups and an experienced facilitator, both with intervision in general and with constellation work. With this method the inner attitude of the facilitator is the instrument and the condition for guiding constellations. This method is also suitable for larger groups. Even if, as a participant, you are not a representative in the constellation, you generally feel the energy and can learn a lot too.
Starting your own intervision group – how?
Perhaps you are considering to start your own intervision group. It will undoubtedly contribute to your professional growth and that of your fellow entrepreneurs. It is good to think about a number of things before you start immediately. Such as:
- Do you want to start an intervision group with a certain type of entrepreneurs? Only with solo entrepreneurs or only with women? Or do you let go of the whole idea?
- The group size: what feels good and at with how many participants will the intervision start?
- Who will take care of the role of facilitator?
- What agreements do you make about the method(s) used? Or do you follow the guideline to let the facilitator decide on each occasion?
- How often do you hold the sessions?
- Who arranges practical matters such as location and duration of meetings, costs are incurred?
- What do you do when someone wants to quit the group?
- Which conditions are there if new participants want to join? Like commitment and agreements on safety and confidentiality.
Sources: Practice book intervision – Monique Bellersen and Inez KohlmannPositive supervision and intervision – Fredrike BanninkIntervision coaching – Ger van Doorn and Marijke Lingsma