Acceptance in the Flow of Facilitation

Via a tweet today from @HHG I came across a blog post from author Susan Piver on Buddhism and Relationships: 3 Stages to Heal a Broken Heart. I was taken by the post  not because I am currently experiencing a broken heart, but because her three bits of advice seemed incredibly relevant to the practice of facilitation.

It is so easy to get blocked by our own feelings of wanting to both succeed in facilitating and to be accepted or “do right” as the facilitator. It is easy to get caught in the emotions of others in moments of heat and fire. It is easy to beat oneself up – and that rarely makes us better facilitators!

Open but still largely unread on my desk is the book, “Standing in the Fire: Leading high-heat meetings with clarity, calm and courage,” by Larry Dressler.  It too, is about how we accept what is happening around us as a way of staying usefully engaged, rather than consumed and frankly, burnt out and hurt.

I am deeply interested in these practices as I feel I have finally begin a phase in life where I am breaking free of  old “please the people” habits and finding more comfortable ways of holding disagreement, conflict and dissent. I want to find practices that bring in critical thinking, use the heat instead of pouring on water at the first spark.

Here is a bit from Susan’s post. I have edited out the specific material about heartbreak and out of respect for her full text. So click in and read the rest.

I have three suggestions for figuring out how to accomplish this very mysterious feat of feeling without attaching a narrative as to what it might, could, should, or dare not mean.

1. Develop a non-judgmental relationship with your mind. …When you’re under the sway of strong emotion, you come into contact with a state of being that I like to call Insane Obsessive Thinking. If only, I should have, what I really meant was, how dare she, I am a loser, you are a loser, love stinks… .Without addressing a mind run amuck, the chances of skillfully working with your feelings is kind of limited. So I suggest introducing a note of discipline to your everyday life, beginning today. Spend some time everyday, not squashing your icky thoughts and promoting your good ones, but simply watching your mind in a relaxed way—no matter how wild it gets, you can remain steady. This is what meditation teaches you how to do…

2. Stabilize your heart in the open state. When you regain some sense of dominion in your own mind, naturally your attention will turn toward that raging, screaming, 24/7 searing thing in the middle of your chest—your heart…

3. View your whole life as path. With a sense of clarity in your mind and stability in your heart, the third stage becomes something altogether different. There is no practice associated with this one. With mental clarity and emotional stability comes the ability to see your entire life as path. You have created the foundation for an entirely authentic life, one full of joy and sorrow, meetings and partings, giving and taking, and deep meaning. ..

via Buddhism and Relationships: 3 Stages to Heal a Broken Heart | Susan Piver.

How do you stand in the fire? Accept and move forward as a facilitator?

Photo Credit:

NING Alternatives via Stephen Downes

I don’t normally wholly post others blog posts, but I think spreading the word about alternatives to NING, which will be ending its free service, is a useful thing. So thanks for Stephen for putting this together. I had collected a few more, but I’ll add them to the Alternatives to Ning GoogleDoc! The issue of “free, hosted, self hosted, propriatary, open” or whatever is a key technology stewardship challenge. We make the decision for lots of reasons, but the landscape is always changing. Sigh.

Today has been an active day in the community as people consider alternatives to Ning. An Alternatives to Ning. document has been set up and is being collectively written. Wes Fryer also considers alternatives. Sylvia Curry has a screencast of the document being updated. Meanwhile, ReadWriteWeb almost gloatingly pulls out the there’s no free lunch line (which annoys me, as the proposition is demonstrably falsifiable). The Blog Herald is also gleeful: “If you want to stay, you have to pay.” Vicki A. Davis observes, “This Ning situation is yet another obstacle that we must overcome because truly, the world isn’t Flat.” Marc Canter says, “The migration has begun. No wonder Gina never put in Export… she knew it was something that would be needed – eventually.” Wired says simply, “Ning fails at free social networking. Alex Couros, Couros Blog,

via Ning Alternatives, Collaboration, & Self Hosting ~ Stephen’s Web ~ by Stephen Downes.

Debrief: the role of visuals in online community management

Today I was a guest of the Community Roundtable, sharing some ideas about the role of visuals in online community facilitation and management. This is the first of two such gatherings this month. The second will be in the context of online learning for the Knowplace event next week. Screenshot of shared drawing

We used my free space plus (since my visual slides created a humongous file size and I was too lazy to break it apart.) I like Vyew’s white board, simple set up and the ability to easy make every participant a collaborator with access to the white board tools.

I offered a bit of context on the general role of visuals in group processes, then some stories about translating those ideas online. After that, the fun really began as we drew together. First I asked them to draw without talking. Then there is a little tool in Vyew where you can make your cursor invisible, so people could not tell WHO was drawing what.  I asked them to activate that feature. Then we debriefed. The comments ranged from feeling free to collaborate on an image, to struggling a bit with the tools, to drawing off by oneself in a corner. Some liked the anonymity, some didn’t. Then we talked about how such exercises could be used, particularly in a work context where this might otherwise be seen as frivolous.

Afterwards my hosts, Rachel Happe and Jim Storer were kind to offer (and allow me to share) their feedback. I appreciate that in return for my time in being their guest.

Rachel’s Notes:

I thought it went very well given that most of the people on the call were completely new to the idea of drawing online or together.

The different chairs as an opener gave people a framework/context that they could relate to in order to get started.

I thought the slides plus the playing were a bit hard to fit into an hour but given that I was surprised how active people were – most people seemed to jump right in and unlike the phone, people didn’t have to take turns so everyone – even if they were not collaborating per se – could participate right away which is often really hard to get them to do verbally even if you do call on them and give them time on the call.

Intentionally cutting off talking was also interesting – kind of an odd sensation since I rely so much on getting explicit confirmation from people. Really interesting to watch how collaboration unfolds without voice.

It’s definitely given me some things to think about for our own use.

Jim – other thoughts?


Jim’s Notes

Great session! I was trying to observe and participate, which was a bit challenging. I eventually just gave in and participated. Gave me a lot of ideas on how to introduce people to one another. Since using tools like that feels a little silly, it breaks down conventions and barriers pretty quickly. I loved to see how people co-created with each other.

Too much to digest so soon… I wish more members had joined in. They would have enjoyed it.

Thanks again Nancy. I just wished I’d had a chance to tell everyone how I started following you back in 2002 (I think) when I first found your Online Community Toolkit. 🙂

I’ll return with the debrief after the Knowplace event on the 23rd!

Here are the slides:

Graphic Facilitator Peer Coaching

A group of us are starting on a new adventure to nurture a community of practice around our graphic recording and graphic facilitation work. We get to see each other at MOST one time a year (as most members are part of the UN University in Bonn, Germany), so we are working to invent ways to nurture the CoP at a distance.

So far we have monthly telecons where we talk about upcoming and past work, but we wanted to do more interaction around the images we are creating. We Skyped and shared files, but that is a bit awkward. We are setting up a blog and so now we are thinking about where to host and discuss images: Flickr? On the Blog?

As an experiment, I’m embedding an image from quite a while ago that we did to do a little test for providing feedback on a specific image.

This image was compiled over a multi-day meeting, with most of it created on the first day when we did some visioning exercise. Some of my post recording thoughts on in include:

  • What started out being binoculars turned into a creature. A bit Weird.
  • The colors are light – I think some use of black in the text would have increased readability.
  • I liked the “start” mandala… this sort of mind map works well with things like vision which has a center and clearly linked parts.
  • The edge-of-star writing is hard to read.

Now, I’m going to invite my fellow community members to stop by and use the comments to add their thoughts to this test. Please, feel free to join in. If you have an image to share, let’s talk!

EFQUEL – European Foundation for Quality in E-Learning – 2010

A few years ago my friend Ulf-Daniel Ehlers invited me to speak at the European Foundation for Quality in E-Learning. When he asked, I said incredulously, WHAT? Me speak about E-Learning Quality? Thus began my education into what this can mean – beyond certifications, hide-bound rules and what often ends up  being a limitation instead of a search for and valuing of quality. Ulf and his colleagues opened up some new vistas for me.  In thanks, I’m sitting on this year’s program committee. We haven’t had our virtual meeting yet, so I wanted to find out, what would YOU want to see on an agenda for such meeting. Take a look at the current outline, which is more action oriented than presentation focused.  Do you have any suggestions you want me to take to the meeting?

EFQUEL – European Foundation for Quality in E-Learning – 2010: Lisbon.