Mobius, Inc. is an organization development firm that believes leadership solutions require transformative conversations. We collaborate as partners with our clients to get the results they and their stakeholders want. Our work is research-based, thoroughly tested, and guaranteed.
Incorporated in 1991 by Marjorie Herdes and William Stockton, PhD, Mobius, Inc. has nearly thirty years of experience partnering with individuals, organizations, and communities in the Twin Cities, throughout the United States, and across the globe.
Mobius consultants work to transform complex problems and challenges into new possibilities, shared commitments, and actions that get results.
Interest in culture and human development, and specifically, the relationship between individual and culture, drew Will to the fields of cultural anthropology and developmental psychology. He initially considered a career in academia but realized instead that he was more drawn to the challenge of applying knowledge to “real” world challenges.
His curiosity about whether we, as humans, can reshape the cultures that shape us, led ultimately to the development of the Mobius Model, a research-based, step-by-step tool for facilitating culture change and leadership development using transformative conversation. He and Marjorie formed a consulting partnership in 1991. Their differing viewpoints bring a creative dynamic into their work with clients (and give them the opportunity to refine the Mobius approach in their own professional relationship).
Will studied psychology, history, and philosophy as an undergraduate, and holds a PhD in Cultural Anthropology.
An emerging interest in Montessori education and humanistic psychology drew Marjorie away from her early career in political science and Arab studies. The Montessori method of combining respect for a child’s self-directed drive to learn with a rich and supportive environment provided a compelling contrast to her own negative early learning experiences. After several years as a Montessori teacher and teacher trainer, she wondered if what she had learned about child and human development could be put to use with adults.
She worked as a Quality Improvement Specialist at Honeywell before joining a consulting group that used the Mobius Model, and, eventually, entering a consulting partnership with Will. She was delighted to find the research and psychology behind the Mobius Model were consistent with her own understanding of individual and group development.
Marjorie holds a BA degree in political science and Arab studies. She is qualified in the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and Spiritual Intelligence assessment, both of which provide a guide to those who wish to explore further development.
Our name takes its inspiration from the Mobius strip – named for a 20th century German mathematician. If you take a strip of paper and connect the ends to form a cylinder, there are 2 sides, forever separate and disconnected. However, if you twist the paper before connecting, something interesting happens. Though it still looks two-sided, it has actually been transformed into one continuous surface. Start tracing along one “side” and you will eventually discover there are no sides. There is one continuous surface, one connected “whole,” with the illusion of “sides.”
Mobius conversations offer this same kind of transformation. When all perspectives are brought into view, the illusion of “sides” dissolves. Real and actionable solutions that satisfy and represent all stakeholders can then be recognized. Solutions are not forced, they are discovered. Collaboratively. Powerfully. Inclusively. This inspires us.
We facilitate specific, skilled, transformative conversations that lead to unique, customized, and satisfying results. In thirty years of practice, we have worked with groups of all sizes – from as few as two to as many as a thousand. Our consulting experience, coupled with convincing research, has led us to two conclusions that form the foundation of all the services we offer:
We provide organization development services by designing and facilitating a specific kind of conversation – a Mobius conversation . We use our well-tested tool, the Mobius Model, as a guide and we get results.
As the chief operating officer of a complex organization…the idea that a process existed that could move challenging problems to solutions virtually everyone found agreeable seemed improbable. But that is exactly what the Mobius Model promised and delivered.
- COO State Teachers Union
Everyone involved with the project is enthusiastic about the new tools we are learning…requiring mutual understanding rather than adversarial polarization…. We could not have gotten here without your skillful facilitation.
- Steve Brown, Manager, National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA)
With transformative conversation as the foundation, we offer the following organization development services
Coworkers who have not spoken to each other for years are now speaking on a regular basis. Long-term employees who have not participated in group activities during recent years, are now assisting with group efforts whenever appropriate. Long-term festering issues have surfaced been dealt with and resolved.
- Director of Instruction, Large Metropolitan School District
I thought I knew what the problem was that I wanted to fix. You helped me ask the right questions and uncover the real issues. That's what made the difference.
- Broker, Dain-Bosworth
Marjorie Herdes and Will Stockton have been a great help in understanding and sorting out my priorities. Mobius has provided me with new, alternative options which will be of value to Honeywell and me. I recommend Mobius to others without hesitation.
- Executive, Honeywell
We also provide a self-assessment tool for groups and teams, the Mobius Model Instrument (MMI). With the MMI, groups and teams can:
Using the MMI is an excellent way to facilitate commitment to team goals and values and to identify appropriate resources and activities.
MMI data is a reflection of the group’s view of itself -- it is not a report of what outside “experts” think about the team. It provides an “inside out” rather than an “outside in” view. Training to facilitate the MMI process is available for internal and external development professionals.
The instrument provided the opportunity for team members to see together what was important to them and it helped establish future goals and a process to achieve them.
- Manager, Medtronic
We finished the Mobius (MMI) program in Indianapolis last week. We are able to focus team development in a way that adds value to all levels of the organization. I also feel that, by the nature of the process, people are learning how to listen for understanding while they continue to have conversations about possible next steps.
- Edward W. Cleary, Training Consultant, Liberty Mutual
What we do at Mobius is unique in many ways, including our promise, and our process. Here are some of the things that set us apart.
The way we work. Collaborating as partners committed to getting the results you and your stakeholders want. Read More
A lot of OD consultants temporarily take over, essentially putting the leader aside. However, at Mobius, we act as partners and collaborators in leading change. We work with and for existing leadership. With our support, leaders can show up in new, transformative ways – ways that honor all stakeholder voices and lead to shared commitments and satisfying results. We bring many decades of experience into each leadership partnership. We use that experience, share it, teach it, and leave it with you to continue growing when our work with your organization is done.
The tools we use. User friendly, research-based, and well tested. Read More
Many consulting models are teaching heuristics not based in proven research. Mobius practices are deeply grounded in theory and research. The impetus for the Mobius Model came from a desire to test theory in practice. We sought to take what researchers in anthropology and developmental psychology know about culture, human development, and growth and bring it out of academia and into our lives. Our tool, the Mobius Model, leverages modern research to create solutions in the real world. We use it every day in our own lives and with our clients. And after thirty years of testing and refining, we are confident that it works.
The solutions we create. Tailored to your unique challenges, grounded in the strengths of your people, aligned with your cultural values. Read More
We don’t prescribe changes or bring in outside solutions. All of our organization development services are designed in collaboration with our clients. There are no package deals or cookie cutter solutions – the designs for change emerge as we talk. This kind of personalized and inclusive design leads to solutions that are unique, specialized, and satisfying to all stakeholders.
We believe that skilled conversation is a leader’s most powerful tool. We are so convinced about the power of transformative conversation that we guarantee results. When you contract with Mobius, we work with you and your stakeholders until we get the results that we have all agreed to.
We begin with a series of transformative conversations to define the challenge and create a shared vision for result...
We reach a decision...
Then we craft a proposal...
And the work begins...
At Mobius, Inc., we are fascinated by the potential of transformative conversations for leadership and culture change, a topic of growing interest. A publication in the Harvard Business Review recently argued that:
Traditional corporate communication must give way to a process that is more dynamic and more sophisticated. Most important, that process must be conversational
But most of us already have conversations all day every day. So, what makes a conversation transformative? The short answer is results. Transformative conversations redefine challenges and produce innovative responses that lead to shared commitments and satisfying solutions.
A more thorough answer begins with an understanding of culture as a force that shapes our lives – at home, at work, everywhere. At Mobius, we define culture as the learned, shared ways we understand and respond to life’s challenges. In other words:
Culture is what we know, or think we know, about “how it is” and what we can and can’t do as a result
Want to change how something is done but don’t speak up because that’s just “not how it’s done here”? That’s probably the influence of culture. Afraid of the repercussions if you challenge something that doesn’t make sense? Those “unwritten rules” are culture. Have a great idea but no opportunity to act on it? Again, culture.
The powerful influence of culture is everywhere, shaping everything we do, often invisibly. Sometimes, “how it is” serves us. But other times, it keeps us stuck.
What do we do when our culture shapes us in ways we don’t like or that limit our success?
We change it. How? Through transformative conversations, Mobius leadership conversations. These conversations are different from our everyday interactions because they are strategically designed to lead to culture change. In other words, they reshape “how it is” in the workplace and what we can and can’t do as a result. Changing the conversation changes the culture. This is the essence of the Mobius approach.
Over many years, Gallop surveys of workforce satisfaction have shown that a vast majority of workers are not engaged and feel powerless to do anything about it (citation). In other words, “how it is” in the workplace is pretty dismal for most.
It doesn’t have to be that way! If our workplace culture is limiting, we can change it. In fact, we’ve seen it happen successfully so often that we now believe most problems, or leadership challenges, are actually culture change challenges. They are evidence that “how it is” isn’t working for everyone. They are a call for leadership. (The pervasive dissatisfaction of today’s workforce is in and of itself a leadership challenge!)
The fundamental job of a leader is to take responsibility for culture change.
The most powerful way leaders, formal or informal, can respond to a challenge is to initiate a particular kind of conversation, a Mobius leadership conversation. Changing the conversation enables them to reveal and rewrite the invisible rules, to reshape “how it is” so that it works for them (and all their stakeholders) rather than against them. This view of leadership as a conversation for culture change, rather than what individuals in leadership positions do, is how we have come to understand leadership and the role of leaders.
Einstein wisely observed that:
“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”
The Mobius Model is a guide for taking conversations about our problems and challenges to the next level. The result of a Mobius conversation is a new, shared way to understand and respond.
Those who use the Mobius Model are able to transform dueling monologues — in which participants defend their own viewpoint and attack others — into dialogues in which participants learn from and with each other. The key to effective leadership is for the leader to be the lead learner, to be able to listen first to demonstrate understanding rather than agree or disagree.
It is only necessary for a leader and facilitator to understand the Mobius Model. Others will want to learn the Model after they experience the success of dialogues in which all differing stakeholder viewpoints are engaged.
The Model guides leaders to recognize and transform their own limiting, unexamined perspectives which translates into effective leadership for success.
The Mobius Model is grounded in research from cultural anthropology and developmental psychology. Why is that important?
Research-based. The principles behind the Mobius Model are based in scientific research. The model does not describe how we think culture change should happen, but how it actually does. The process has been thoroughly test in practice. We think that’s important.
Developmental. One groundbreaking discovery in the past one hundred years of psychological research is the understanding that individual growth is developmental (it occurs in stages). And development doesn’t end with childhood but continues throughout adulthood. Our thirty years of hands-on practice has convinced us of something equally important. Group and organization growth is similarly developmental and ongoing. The six movements of Mobius conversations align with and leverage this research.
What’s it like to be a part of a Mobius leadership conversation? We like to use the popular Magic Eye pictures (or stereograms) as a comparison. Stereograms are pictures with a 3D image hidden inside. At first look, you probably see an unremarkable, two-dimensional image like this one to the right:
However, when you allow your gaze to soften and refocus, an entirely different, usually unexpected, and much more interesting image will “pop” into view.
A horse and rider are hidden in the image. Can you see it? (Check out magiceye.com for more examples and tips for viewing.)
Here are three ways Magic Eye images remind us of Mobius conversations:
The transformation resulting from a true Mobius conversation has a “Whoa! That’s amazing!” quality to it too. But not until you experience it for yourself. If you have stakeholders not speaking to one another, old timers refusing to budge, new hires who won’t listen, then transformative conversation may sound great, but…whatever.
Our thirty years of experience partnering with leaders and their stakeholders have shown us that the hidden opportunity is always there even when we can’t see it. When the layering of all stakeholder perspectives meets the willing gaze of a Mobius conversation, personalized, effective, and unexpected solutions will emerge every time. We confidently see your eyeroll and raise you a horse and rider.
In thirty years of practice we have worked with university presidents, team managers, department directors, union leaders, executive teams, city planners, and many more. Simply put, we work with groups of all sizes and anyone experiencing a leadership challenge - from as few as two to as many as one thousand.
Some of our former clients include:
A leadership challenge is a situation in which:
Leadership challenges come in all sizes. Recognizing and acknowledging that “We don’t know or agree what to do” marks the critical next step in development for any leader. The MM is a guide for taking those next steps.
Here are just a few examples of how leadership challenges have shown up for our clients. All were brought to satisfying results using the Mobius process.
Whatever your leadership challenge, we have the experience and know-how to collaborate as partners with you and your stakeholders. Together we can transform complex problems and challenges into new possibilities, shared commitments, and actions that get results. Our work is research-based, thoroughly tested, and guaranteed.