OPM Virtual Living Groups (VLGs) - New & Improved

We listened to your feedback, redesigned our session agendas and launched a new version of our software. We’re also taking steps to achieve consistent attendance on the level of a Board meeting or YPO Forum. OPMrs want to show up for each other.

Keep up the connection, deepen the learning, and contribute your wisdom to strengthen this experience. A VLG is:

But to work, we need everyone to commit to their VLG.

What do OPMr’s say about the program?

"VLG in Circles was the most critical part of my HBS education, and I’m even considering how to bring the experience back to my organization."
Sezen Saral
Co-founder, Reeder
"OPM Unit 1 exceeded my expectations, which I will admit were very high, given HBS’ reputation for excellence. However, I want to share that the experience contains a hidden gem – the Virtual Living Group (or VLG) that runs in between the on-campus sessions."
John M Ferrara
Founder & President, Capstone Partners

What is changing from Unit 1 VLGs?

OPMr’s want consistent attendance, and a focus on maintaining their valuable connection. With this in mind, we are:

What exactly is an OPM VLG?

Most leaders find Peer Learning to be one of the most valuable things they can do with their time. Diverse peers meet monthly in a confidential space to work on their biggest challenges. They form strong bonds that help each other outside the group session, by sharing networks, ideas, and support. The process itself teaches leadership lessons about vulnerability, powerful questions, storytelling, and many other skills.

Our community and sessions are based on Forum practices championed by peer learning leaders like YPO.


This is a firm commitment, like a Board of Directors meeting. Each member’s consistent voice is crucial to creating a powerful session. Meetings should not be attended on the go; you’ll need to arrange your calendar to be in a quiet place with strong internet for these 90 minutes.

There is almost no work outside the VLG. And inside, you are working on your most pressing challenges. Participants say that they can’t afford not to make this time.

HBS is a pioneer in the power of small groups in learning. The physical campus dormitory living group design reflects this. For the last five years, they have partnered with Circles Learning Labs to develop technology and a program that extends this beyond the campus. This was particularly important in the OPM program because of the long time between on-campus units. Each living group and facilitator can choose dynamically from a variety of prepared meeting structures that connect to OPM program themes, with an emphasis on application to real-world challenges. The University works with Circles to bring the VLG approach to programs it offers custom corporate clients as well.

For many of us, the relationship with our LG mates transcends the words “friend,” “colleague” and “advisor.” You will gain a circle of others who are deeply invested in their success. You will have a committed space in your busy calendar for reflection on your biggest leadership challenges. You will also experience the powerful leadership lessons members all have, around vulnerability, inclusion, presence, listening, blind spots, storytelling, diverse perspectives learning itself — you will gain leaders around you who get this and become allies reinforces those things in your own workplace.

We recommend looking at this as a Board Meeting. Because it is virtual, certain special norms, like being in a quiet stationary place with good internet, need to be practiced. Most VLGs use a guildeline of two misses in a year, after which there’s a dicussion. At the end of the day, each VLG will determine its own norms.

Consistent attendance is a valid obstacle worth trying to overcome. Keeping your commitment to show up for VLG-mates is essential to everyone’s learning. The most successful VLGs treat the sessions like they treat Board meetings. From time to time, some VLGs find themselves with only two or three consistent members. In this case, we recommend working with your facilitator and the OPM VLG team to recruit additional members, or combine with another VLGs committed members. Similarly, most VLGs will have a “Steward”, or point person, to help navigate commitment issues. The important thing is to voice your concerns about others not showing, and continue to attend for your own value. The earlier we can identify commitment/attendance issues the more valuable the experience will be as it improves over multiple meetings.

We’ll start with the standard of “Noone, Nothing, Never.” During the initial training meetings, VLGs will spend time grappling with what this really means. We’re designing a gradual learning experience, where norms like this will be consistently revisited, with member’s understanding and skill deepening over time.

There are many reasons why a VLG might not be the right fit for someone, with time zone being the most common. So the answer is “yes.” Please let the OPM VLG team know through the commitment on the website, and we will work with you to find a different option.

Circles Learning Labs partners with peer learning leaders like Harvard Business School and Young President’s Organizations and The Aspen Institute to build technology that makes it easy to scale a consistently great Forum experience virtually. The video space itself has features that make running a great Forum easy. Years of hardening has made the space reliable. But the entire digital environment makes the launching and managing of Forums at scale efficient. Participants will have almost no learning curve; you’ll simply join your session and instantly learn the few features that matter for Forum. There will be live and instant 24×7 support, just in case.

Circles Learning Labs, Inc (Circles) is an independent company on a mission to grow learning communities across the world. Circles has worked with the OPM program for five years to build and deliver the Virtual Living Group component of the OPM program. Circles Learning Labs has partnered with HBS and other peer learning leaders like Young President’s Organization and The Aspen Institute to build technology and services that make it easy to scale a consistently great Forum experience virtually. We are a small but mighty global team, obsessed with the power of great small-group dynamics. We deliver programs for communities and companies using our proprietary CircleSpace technology, our certified Guide force, and our program management team.

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