Zoom and Re-Zoom for Facilitators

Last month I finally got a chance to use a facilitation activity called Zoom which I found on the Wilderdom’s Game resource page — a great resource!  I deeply appreciate that they put the “copyleft” designation on all their resources. THANKS!  As I learned and read facilitation ideas from other sites, I realized I should share some of my experiences as well. Here is the description from Wilderdom’s resource page (which also includes all instructions – I’ve attached a pdf copy at the bottom for taking to an event, but please DO visit their page!):

This game is based on the intriguing, wordless, picture books “Zoom” and “Re-Zoom” by Istvan Banyai which consist of 30 sequential “pictures within pictures”.  The Zoom narrative moves from a rooster to a ship to a city street to a desert island and outer space.  Zoom has been published in 18 countries. The Re-Zoom narrative moves from an Egyptian hieroglyphic to a film set to an elephant ride to a billboard to a train.

I’ve done similar activities, but I love the multicultural perspective of Istvan Banayi’s books, so now I’ve stocked up on multiple copies of both ZOOM and RE-ZOOM, and have on my to do list to break them down and put into protective pages. I left the last set with my colleagues at ICRISAT in Hyderabad. I am also keeping my eye out for used copies, because I like the idea of leaving the book pages behind for groups to use with OTHER groups they work with. Viral facilitation and collaboration!

We did the exercise with a large group of social scientists who work in different parts of the world. Most of their work is done in smaller teams, but there was a real need to connect as a whole team as well. It was very interesting to observe the exercise. First we started with the version where you can’t show your card to anyone else. The group didn’t make much progress finding their order. Imagine if we had tried the “no talking” version! With the “no show” round, I asked if they were ready to show and see if they got it. There were some totally confident and others totally sure they did not have it. So I asked them to put themselves in order (again without showing the cards) and then we’d check.  Uh uh, not even close.

Then they used visual clues to reorder the series. This is where a few individuals really went to work and the rest of the group stood back. It was an interesting shift in agency. When there was a higher degree of “not knowing,” more of the team participated in working the solution.

When we debriefed, I did notice a shyness to share some of the observations people gave me individually as the power dynamics in the group made some of these things harder to say. I try not to be the voice for others in the room, so I had to represent my observations as just that — my observations. But I need to think more critically how to handle this during the debrief.

Here are a few angles on our play together…



Resources from Wilderdom, copyleft – please share with attribution out of kindness!

Talking and Walking Collaboration

Big A Moleskine Exchange, Big A's book, part 1
Creative Commons License photo credit: steev-o
A bit ago Shawn Callahan of Anecdote (friend and collaborator!) wrote an interesting blog post about people who write about collaboration – by themselves. Anecdote: What do you notice about these recent books on collaboration?. This triggered some reflections in the comments about the process of writing collaboratively.

Recently, more of my writing has been collaborative than solo (as evidenced by my paucity of blog posts!) I have written 3 articles collaboratively (more on those later, one of which was with Shawn and his biz partner Mark Schenk), one in the works and have been co-writing workshop documentation with our team. And of course…. THE BOOK.

As I responded to Shawn’s post, I realize that in reflecting on the collaborative writing process of the book, there is a point where it is impossible to separate the talking about collaboration with the walking the collaboration talk for me. That is because collaboration requires reflection, which is a sort of “talk,” no?

Here is what I wrote on Shawn’s blog:

As I’m just on the (hopefully) finishing edge of very collaboratively co-writing a book with John Smith and Etienne Wenger, I feel fully able to comment on the experience.

First, it takes a lot more work to write WITH others. And I’m not talking about pasting chapters together, each written by an individual. Truly co-writing and co-editing is both an amazing act of commitment to each other, learning and love.

The first year, when we thought it was “just an update to a report” collaboration was difficult for me. I did not know how to negotiate meaning. I was impatient. I alternately felt guilty or impatient with my collaborators. I was a lousy co-writer.

In the second year (yes, second year) we learned to listen to each other. We dealt with things we did not speak about in year one, like being heard, or feeling less for some reason or another. I learned to understand my strengths and weaknesses as a writer and a thinker, and to appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of my cowriters.

In the third year (yes, the THIRD year) I was enlivened by the learning. I was applying what we were writing/making sense of so there was an electricity. But slow electricity.

The fourth year (this year) IMPATIENCE to finish. Tired. Worried that our slow place was great for our learning and personal application in our practices, but too slow for usefulness in the world. I became impatient with the finishing process. Yet I’m so glad we revised and revised. It got better.

Am I happy with the final book? Well, I’ll confess, I have to wait until the world tells us if they find it useful. But I’m 100% happy we took the time, the practice, and the patience to write together. I’d equate this with a PhD course of study. It is irreplaceable.

And it is ENTIRELY DIFFERENT than writing on my own.

How do you reflect on your collaborative experiences so that you can do it even better the next time? Do you reflect alone? With your collaborators?

Building a collaborative workplace (or community… or network)

Creative Commons License photo credit: rgordon

A while back my friend and colleague Shawn Callahan asked me to pitch in with him and fellow Anecdote-ite Mark Schenk to write a paper on collaboration. It is out today on the Anecdote site –> Anecdote – Whitepapers – Building a collaborative workplace. From the introduction:

Today we all need to be collaboration superstars. The trouble is, collaboration is a skill and set of practices we are rarely taught. It’s something we learn on the job in a hit-or-miss fashion. Some people are naturals at it, but most of us are clueless.

Our challenge doesn’t stop there. An organisation’s ability to support collaboration is highly dependent on its own organisational culture. Some cultures foster collaboration while others stop it dead in its tracks.

To make matters worse, technology providers have convinced many organisations that they only need to purchase collaboration software to foster collaboration. There are many large organisations that have bought enterprise licences for products like IBM’s Collaboration Suite or Microsoft’s Solutions for Collaboration who are not getting good value for money, simply because people don’t know how to collaborate effectively or because their culture works against collaboration.

Of course technology plays an important role in effective collaboration. We are not anti-technology. Rather we want to help redress the balance and shift the emphasis from merely thinking about collaboration technology to thinking about collaboration skills, practices, technology and supporting culture. Technology makes things possible; people collaborating makes it happen.

This paper has three parts. We start by briefly exploring what we mean by collaboration and why organisations and individuals should build their collaboration capability. Then, based on that understanding, we lay out a series of steps for developing a collaboration capability. We finish the paper with a simple test of your current collaboration capability.

I think the issue is beyond building a collaborative workplace. It applies to our communities and networks. But heck, starting with organizations is always worth a try, eh? 😉

While we were co-writing (using a Google doc) I started reading more about the differences between collaboration and cooperation – which we don’t address in the paper, but which are important. So I’ve noted that for future writing. If you are interested in Cooperation, don’t miss Howard Rheingold’s work on this.

Ken Thompson’s New Book: Bioteams

Kens BookI have a copy, but haven’t had time to read it, but those of you interested in collaboration might want to take a look at Ken Thompson’s new book, BIOTEAMS which brings together Ken’s tips and wisdom into a single volume. His blog is rich in ideas, but it is always nice to have a book to pass on to an organization or team that can use a bit of advice. 😉 (As if we all can’t stand to learn how to collaborate better!)

Chris Brogan on Enabling Peer Collaboration Using Social Networks

Chris offers another succinct and useful “how-to” on using a social network for peer collaboration. Then his readers chime in with even more goodies. If you are asking the question “should I start a social network for my group, team, network, etc?” take a look at Enabling Peer Collaboration Using Social Networks .