Archive for the 'facilitation' Category

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.

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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)

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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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Nov 18 2014

Good Suggestions for “Fixing the Q&A” Session

whatsyourstoryerealitiesThere is a useful post on the HBR blog by  that is a good follow-on to yesterday’s post about webinars. Thomas talks about the mismatch between the intention for interaction with the audience, and the poor design of most Q&A sessions that happen after keynotes or talks. Here is a snippet, then I have some amplifications below.

Some solutions to the Q&A dysfunction already exist. Some hire a professional moderator or use software tools to crowdsource the questions. Others experiment with radically new ways to run events, such as the unconference movement. However, those solutions are often expensive or time-consuming to deploy, making them infeasible for many types of events. Here are four techniques that I’ve used with great results, and that can be deployed without any kind of preparation:

  1. Do an inverse Q&A. An inverse Q&A is when I the speaker pose a question to the audience, asking them to discuss it with the person sitting next to them. A good question is, “For you, what was a key take-away from this session? What might you do differently going forward?” People love the opportunity to voice their thoughts to someone and unlike the traditional Q&A, this approach allows everybody to have their say. It also helps them network with each other in a natural manner, which is something many conferences don’t really cater to.
  2. Ask for reactions, not just questions. When you debrief on the small-group discussion, insisting on the question format makes it awkward for the people who just want to share something. As you open the floor, specifically say “What are your reactions to all this? Questions are great, but you are also welcome to just share an observation, it doesn’t have to be in the form of a question.”
  3. Have people vet the questions in groups. An alternative to the inverse Q&A is to ask people to find good questions in groups. Simply say, “Please spend a minute or two in small groups, and try to find a good question or a reflection you think is relevant for everybody.” Then walk around the room and listen as people talk. If you hear an interesting reflection, ask them to bring it up during the joint discussion, or bring it up yourself.
  4. Share a final story after the Q&A. Given that even the best-run Q&A session is unpredictable, it is best to have the Q&A as the second-to-last element. I always stop the Q&A part a few minutes before the end, so I have time to share one final example before getting off the stage. That way, even if the Q&A part falls flat, you can still end your session with a bang instead of a fizzle.The above methods can help you turn any keynote into a better experience. What other techniques — ideally simple ones — have you seen or used?

via 4 Ways to Fix the Q&A Session – Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg – Harvard Business Review.

The first thing I really want to amplify is the focus on questions – thinking about them and forming them more intentionally, both from the presenter and from the people formerly known as the audience.  Crap questions generate crap responses. People seeking to be heard often respond in kind with crap responses because they were so busy getting ready to speak, they weren’t listening. So we also see a relationship between crap questions and poor listening. As a speaker, it is your/mine/our job to bring value by offering good questions and to both role model good listening when we hand off the mic, and to make it easier for people to listen well.

How do we make it easier for people to listen well?

  • Present well. This is covered well other places, but if we are rambly (spell check suggested “brambly” which also fits!), unclear or just off point, we will have lost the audience well before the Q&A. Why not aim for having people SO EXCITED by the time you finish speaking…
  • ...so that the only solution is to let them have a conversation. Start with table or pair conversations so this energy can be unleashed, rather than squelched by passing a single mic and constricting/controlling that energy?
  • Harvest. The presenter’s job is then to harvest what was generated out of all that energy, and Thomas’ suggestions are spot on. You can also do post it note harvests, capture visually, among many options. The point here is you steward, you become of service.

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