Archive for the 'facilitation' Category

Mar 18 2015

A Webinar on Facilitating with Technology With 36 Co-Presenters

NancyAtWorkOver the past few years I have enjoyed being part of the MAFN Webinars. MAFN is the Mid Atlantic Facilitator’s Network. They offer both online and offline professional development gatherings. Last Friday, Amy Lenzo, Nancy Settle-Murphy and I were ostensibly the “presenters.” I think I want to shed that title. May I be done with presenting, please? And by the end, I realized it was a conversation with 36… so they are all presenters too!

We designed the 90 minutes to minimize the presentation and maximize the engagement. I appreciated both Amy, Nancy and the great MAFN team of Michael, Dan, Fran and Meaghan — all ready to try new things and stretch ourselves.

We each had 5 minutes, then we were, as they say, off to the races. (You can see the five questions here in the PDF –> The Edge o fOnline Facilitation MAFN March2015 4 Blog.) In this case, it was a chat race. (At least it felt that way to some folks. I love it. Maybe I was a chat racehorse in my past life?) We then finished this first section with the following question:

HighestAspirationforOnlineEngagement

There were 36 participants (maybe a few less with a couple of duplicate log ins, etc.) and there was this amazing chat stream of ideas. So fertile and interesting. I wanted to share the key points.

  • How can we network our intelligence to solve the huge problems facing the world/us?
  • For on-line engagement to be as powerful and impacting as any face-to-face activity.
  • Better connect with people all over the world.
  • . . that it might be superior in some respects to face-to-face engagement
  • People feel like they are in the same room even though they are notaspirations
  • Making deeper (non-trivial) connections with people at a distance
  • For participants to feel energized and that they have had an experience
  • To “level-set” the stakeholders’ understanding of the problem or challenge that all are facing.
  • When the offline culture is not very participatory – using online/virtual to create exchange and relationships and change the culture a little bit.
  • I think work has to meet human social needs.  Online engagement is quite powerful because it can bring  people together socially around quite microspecific topics and concerns
  • People feel a sense of community, leave with  decisions and catalyze action
  • To introduce & discuss the change process in a positive energising atmosphere when some people are resistant to change
  • Participants learn, understand, and feel connected to one another
  • Superior to face-to-face in some ways because many people can “talk at once”.  Appeals to some participants who might be hesitant to speak in a standard classroom
  • Downplay power distances
  • People actually “hearing” the words others were saying; a participant once exclaimed: We were using the same words but we did NOT mean the same thing
  • People who are not technically minded can participate easily and are engaged
  • Human connection across geography with powerful problem-solving
  • Doing strategic planning for a global association on-line (different time zones, cultures, etc., in addition to all the normal human differences)
  • Online engagement feels like in-person engagement
  • Environments that are truly connected – where each of us feel deeply connected to ourselves – our own thoughts and bodies and full selves; to each other; to the natural environment and to the larger world we’re part of. Intimacy and Scale.
  • That it truly engage and lead to the desired outcomes
  • The technology is secondary – the community and results are foremost
  • Create a level playing field so all can contribute to the best of their ability
  • Speed and access to expertise
  • Every voice contributes
  • Making on-line meeting not just a one-off  — so make it a practice that folks will get comfortable with over time (it won’t happen the first time, magically)
  • The fact that the presenters can’t “keep u” means this is more participation than would be possible in person
  • The challenge with online is that the human connection is mediated and distorted by technology. My aspiration is that the technology would feel invisible, or better yet, would be a catalyst for connection.
  • Highest aspiration:  hold onto the social aspect of learning
  • My highest aspiration is connection. Task completion is secondary.
  • Shared meaning … Having folks all proclaim: “I see, hear, & feel and understand.”

These 30+ people aren’t thinking small and I was encouraged and delighted. And from there, the conversation proceeded, mostly in chat and the rest of us with mic access sprinting to keep up became a cauldron of ideas and insights. The group segued from aspirations to questions and how to’s. Within the ideas there were also the meta comments about being challenged being in a text only environment, the pace, the sense of both richness and chaos. It is interesting to read back through the chat and try and pick out some key threads, and to discern where people are “coming” from with their insights. Some are clearly self-defined as trainers, others as facilitators. Some carry the context of the type of organization they work for, and others as consultants range across contexts.

Here are a few examples:

  • What we notice and aspire too is obviously informed by WHAT we do. There were trainers in the group. People embedded in and in the context of organizations and their constraints. Consultants who ranged across contexts. This informs the type of “how-to” people sought or suggested.
  • Everyone is interested in technology, but often in very different ways. Some want to know about the latest technologies. Others are interested in the impact of technology on our interactions. This quote really drew me in after someone talked about the way technology can distort our experiences: ” The presence of technology DOES change and effect the HUMAN experience and connection.” This segued into a conversation about how technology can/might not level the playing field. We are just beginning to really dig into these issues, and move beyond thinking of technology as a tool. I confess I’m getting tired of “what is the best tool for X” conversations and am ready for deeper explorations into the impacts of our technological environments, regardless of what tool is/isn’t available/acceptable/affordable! (Not to diminish those issues.) This is a great topper to this idea that one of my 36 co-presenters shared: “The way the hammer shapes the hand” — Jackson Browne, Casino Nation.
  • We all struggle. Priceless: “My 20th century mind has been struggling to make meaning and order from the chaos of this group chat.” My observation? It is not related so much to age, but I don’t have data to support my hypothesis (says this 56 year old.) The issue for me from the stress of volume is what is lost, as one person wrote, without reflection. (Slow down, Nancy, slow down!) Clearly I’m not the only one with this issue: “I have not been building in enough reflection time in my webinars.  I think it’s because I can’t tell when people have lost interest or when they are thinking.  Could be an insecurity issue for me.  Need to work on that!”

There was a lot more and I’m attaching a file with my semi-Sorted Chat Notes.

But here is the capper:

CAN WE DO THIS AGAIN NEXT WEEK PLEASE AND TALK ABOUT THE NEW QUESTIONS?

I love my 36 co-presenters! Co-creators! Co-labborators! Thank you, one and all. You help me…

thinkmoreradically

2 responses so far

Feb 09 2015

Continuing My Ecocycle Experimentation

GenderinAgResearchIn January I was working with the CGIAR Gender in Agricultural Research Network during their meeting. My wonderful client, Jacqui Ashby trusted me to use many of the Liberating Structures with the group. We used the Ecocycle Planning structure early on to help think about the network member’s work in a slightly different ways.

This is the third time I’ve used the Ecocycle Planning “full on,” in other words, I hung a meaningful part of an agenda on to it. I am getting more confident in how I launch the process and appreciate the value of practicing and observing others (like Keith McCandless) running the process and learning from them.

ciattweetSimone Staiger, of CIAT, wrote about the experience on her Knowledge Management blog during the meeting. The tweet was apparently provocative. A few days after Simone tweeted the blog link, she received the most retweets and links than any other post she has tweeted out. Is it the phrase “destructive process” that caught people’s eyes and imaginations?

As it turns out, the conversations around the creative destruction phase of the ecocyle were very interesting to me, and it appears that they were of interest to the participants. Here are the combined notes Simone and I wrote up:

Participants struggled a bit with “Creative destruction.” At first, there was some reluctance to place things in the “creative destruction” area, thinking that this was a negative activity. After some discussion, many groups identified this as a rich area of potential and possibility, the space of innovation and renewal. One participant gave as an example the need to deploy our listening skills to some of their diverse co-workers in order to be able to change mindsets and create and work together.  It was also mentioned that it is important that we involve a larger group of “next users” and partners in the creative destruction and renewal phase. This increases the chances for them to support the birth and implementation of ideas and activities.

Are we both excited and afraid of destruction? Is that the power of this area?

Conversations about the Poverty Traps and Rigidity Traps are always useful. It’s like we put a name on something familiar, but often unspoken. Being able to frame and discuss these issues is critical.

The other area that held some useful insights was the area of maturity. Not so surprisingly, what one categorizes as a “mature” practice can vary wildly between individuals depending on their experience, what activities they prioritize in their work and other contextual factors. What is often enlightening is the realization that there may not be a shared understanding of those mature practices and therefore a high potential for misalignment.

From a facilitation standpoint, I was worried that the groupings we created for the maps would not work. We had to group people working on different projects together, and in the past, I’d seen better results when an intact team or group maps their project. But I was surprised how much cross project relevance and resonance emerged. I’m not sure we really mined that as much as we might have.  There was more to harvest and we left it on the table!  Going forward I need to think more deeply about this opportunity.Resonance and dissonance are always rich spaces.

 

 

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Feb 03 2015

kelvy bird figured out how to explain what graphic facilitators do

This is so good, from the amazing kelvy bird. I struggle to explain what I do when I am graphically facilitating. It is not neutral, like graphic recording. There IS a sensemaking and contextualization that I do WITH people (not just FOR them.) If you are a visual practitioner, or work with them, read this whole post. 4 Levels of Scribing — kelvy bird.

Here is kelvy’s beautiful image. Now go read her post. Now. Please.

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Feb 01 2015

Alternatives to Presentations and (boring) Panels

conversationI can’t quite recall who started pointing towards the “What If...” format, but when it showed up three times last week, I knew I should pay attention. I’ve been spending a lot of time with my clients working on meetings talking about alternatives to presentations and panel discussions (which are rarely discussions.) I’ve been using “Celebrity Interviews” (aka “Chat Shows“) and “Fishbowls” (or variants such as the “Samoan Circle“).

According to co-founder Matt Murrie, What If lends itself to a learning frame, versus information delivery, with the onus for stimulating the learning on the questions the Questioneers (as alternative to presenters) ask. Then it flows to a conversation cafe-like or World Cafe format of small group discussions.

In live and virtual events, Questioneers (the question askers) ask thought-provoking questions in eight minute talks, followed by lengthy breaks for interaction among the off-stage presenters (the audience).

via About | What if…? 360.

So as usual, it all comes down to the power of a) questions and b) conversation. I hope you are not surprised!

I’m looking forward to trying this out. If you have used this approach, I’d love to hear your stories.

3 responses so far

Jan 26 2015

Graphic Facilitation Workshop ‘Rosviz’ 2015

Graphic Facilitation Workshop ‘Rosviz’ 2015 | Michelle Laurie rants and raves reminds us that it is that time again… drum roll….

Graphic Facilitation Workshop ‘Rosviz’ 2015

Welcome to the 6th Annual Graphic Facilitation Workshop July 13-14, 2015

Location: Beautiful Rossland, B.C., Canada 

Imagine you are planning a project, facilitating a meeting or writing a report. Putting words on a page assumes people will understand them exactly.  Adding visuals invites conversation, discussion and exploration. Visuals spark the imagination, help communities plan their futures and help groups track progress. This two-day experiential workshop provides the skills and confidence needed to use a range of visuals in your work and engage beyond words.

IMG_0167   IMG_0271

Day 1: I CAN DRAW – Hands-On Writing on Walls 

Warm up Circles-LinesIMG_1105

IMG_0423The first day, we will start out by touching the paper, playing with the pens and loosening up our drawing muscles. We’ll silence those pesky inner censors and address the basics of “drawing on walls” including basic shapes, lettering and some initial iconography. You will learn a variety of ways to draw faces and people, an often intimidating but key element for visual engagement. We’ll cover basic techniques and tricks that enable any of us to draw as a way of capturing and communicating ideas with each other. At the end of the day, you will apply your skills by visually planning a real project or meeting you have.  Facilitation techniques including icebreakers, giving and receiving feedback and flip chart enhancements will be interspersed throughout the day.

Day 2: Using Visuals For Group Processes & Facilitation Methods 

IMG_0190 Assisting a facilitation challenge using the Samoan Circle.

The second day we will apply our graphic skills in practice.  We will explore how visuals can enhance group processes such as planning, meetings and evaluation. We will create mind maps, mandalas and a range of practical templates.  We’ll look at the use of visuals and participatory graphics (where the pen goes into everyone’s hands) with group facilitation methods such as World Cafe, Open Space, Appreciative Inquiry, and others. We will pay attention to preparation, the actual visual work, and follow up including digital capture of paper-based images. There will be time for lots of practice, feedback and facilitation support.

Throughout the two days you will have a safe, supportive (and fun!) space to practice and build confidence for real work settings.  We also host a community of practitioners online who give constructive feedback and support long after the workshop is over.

“Thanks so much to both of you!  It was an exceptional workshop and we both got a lot out of it on many levels.  You packed it full and yet it felt so fun and energizing!” (Paula Beltgens, 2014 workshop participant)

This workshop is for you if:

–       You plan a lot of meetings and want to make them more engaging, participatory, and meaningful;

–       You do planning, strategy and assessments;

–       You help groups make sense of complex ideas;

–       You want new ideas on how to make your reports, presentations and videos more visually appealing;

–       You want to be more engaging with groups;

–       You want to hone your current practice; or simply…

–       You are looking for a giant boost of inspiration, creativity and fresh ideas!

You might be a facilitator, community planner, team leader, trainer, teacher, project manager, marketing guru, organizational development consultant…everyone is welcome.

“I wanted to send a quick thank you for hosting such a wonderful workshop. I had a fabulous time and learned a lot, even though I already took the workshop 4 years ago I was thrilled to have the opportunity to take again. The content is rich, the hands on application powerful, the people genuine and the instructors first class. Being immersed in this creative process for two whole days is an amazing experience, I would recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about graphic facilitation and how it can help positively transform group process.” (Fern Sabo, 2x participant, 2010 & 2014)

You do NOT need previous experience or have to consider yourself an artist. At some level, we can all draw and use simple visuals to enhance our communications and engage diverse audiences.

As one participant said:

“Learn to draw with wild abandon! Take this course!” (2013 participant)

IMG_0347

Check out our reflections and photos from 2013 workshops here and here, and the Harvest from the 2012 workshop here and one participant’s Prezi showing the rosviz12 Harvest Journal!

Here is more about what people are saying about our workshop:

“Wonderful workshop – best learning experience ever!”

-Leva Lee, BC Campus (2013 workshop participant)

“Thanks Michelle and Nancy – the workshop was amazing – I am already craving more!”

-Janice Watt, Interior Health Authority facilitator (2013 workshop participant)

“I am still on cloud 9 after the Graphic Facilitation workshop. Thank you soooo much. I feel recharged after that! You two are such great facilitators.  You were willing to bend over backwards to ensure we were comfortable and enjoying ourselves/ learning to our full potential.  There wasn’t a moment that I was not completely engaged during the workshop. “

 -Maddy Koch,
 Community Planning Assistant (2012 workshop participant)

“The graphic facilitation workshop that Michelle and Nancy provided for Alberta Agriculture staff in fall 2011 was fantastic!  They began by setting the stage through careful preparation with the intention of the participants knowing it would be a safe place to learn, stretch their abilities and try new things.  And it worked.  Participants found the workshop to be energizing, fun, and interesting, but most of all useful.  Everyone walked away with ways they planned to incorporate the concepts into their daily work to better engage co-workers, partners and clients.  From using it in everything from agendas, minutes, flipcharts and handouts; to ice breakers, meetings, and team building; to note-taking, brainstorming and other planning processes; the graphic facilitation techniques are here to stay.  A huge thank you to Michelle and Nancy for lighting the fire!”

-Sharon Stollery
, Ag Industry Extension Branch, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (2011 workshop)

Looking for more detailed information? Download the list of skills we will cover: Rosviz14_Tools_Takehome_List

 And More Testimonials:

“What the RosViz11 gave me was the permission to draw without having to be an “artist”. Such joy! Thanks Michelle & Nancy.”

-Laurie Webster
, Consultant with Cognitive Edge (2011 workshop participant)

“I have so many good things to say about the workshop I don’t know where to begin!”

- Sylvia Currie, Curriculum Development and Academic Growth, BC Campus (2010 workshop participant)

“I really thought the workshops was useful for me, and I’m not an artist. In a short period of time (2 days) I was able to learn simple and effective techniques to communicate basic ideas using symbols, easy figures, and colour. What I really liked about the workshops was that it was BIG. Big paper, whole body movements, large images. I’ve always drawn on small pieces of paper and this was a whole body experience!

We also did some great listening exercises where in a short period of time, we had to illustrate big ideas (that were on an audio recording). It was a lot of fun and a new challenge.

Overall, two thumbs up!”

- Rachael Roussin, Consultant (2010 workshop participant)

“Thanks for doing this again, Michelle (and Nancy!!). I highly recommend it!”

- Beth Sanders, Populus Community Planning Inc. (2010 workshop participant)

Preparation:

▪    Come prepared to get your hands dirty.

▪    Dress is comfortable clothes that can get dirty and you won’t be sad if they are stained.

▪    Bring a pad of paper or journal to take notes – unlined is terrific.

▪    Bring a digital camera to record the fruits of your labor.

▪    We will supply the basic materials for the 2 days (and you get a starter kit to take home). Feel free to bring your own set of materials to play with as well. 

COSTS: $850 CAD + GST (5%) (incl. two days training, starter kit and plenty of healthy drinks and snacks).

HOT DEAL! Bring a friend and you both get $50 off! (not combined with other offers)

Please note meals, lodging and transportation are not included.  Accommodation information available upon request.

About your hosts:

Nancy White facilitating from the inner circle.

“I am a learner, mom, gramma and chocoholic. I founded Full Circle Associates to help organizations connect through online and offline strategies.  My practices are diverse, including online interaction designer, facilitator and coach for distributed communities of practice, online learning, distributed teams and online communities, doodler and visual practitioner. I have a special interest in the NGO/NPO sector and the emerging practice of using communities and networks for work and learning. I blog at http://www.fullcirc.com/, teach, present and write on online facilitation and interaction, social architecture, social media and visual practices. I am co-author with Etienne Wenger and John Smith of Digital Habitats: stewarding technology for communities. Lately not only do I like to draw on walls (graphic facilitation), but I spend a lot of time cooing over my granddaughters!!! For more about my visual practice see http://www.fullcirc.com/about/visual-and-graphic-work/.” Nancy White

Michelle Laurie at Rosviz13

“I have a passion for helping organizations and partnerships communicate as well as improve the way they generate and share knowledge.  Lately my work focuses on helping groups create change based on their research. My work explores the interface of environment and development via strategic planning, assessments, facilitation and engagement.  I incorporate visuals wherever I can particularly with the use of participatory graphics, templates, animation and reporting.  I also use visuals in my personal life for planning weddings, newborns and travels!  I am an associate with the International Institute for Sustainable Development, a member of the International Association of Facilitators, the Canadian Evaluation Society and IUCN’s Commission on Education and Communication. I am also your main contact for workshop logistics.” Michelle Laurie

To register you must email  michelle.k.laurie(@)gmail.com to confirm your participation, provide your contact details and submit payment.

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