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A Love Bomb Of Our Course: A Guide to Facilitation

We love feedback and reflection, it not only lets us learn but also drives us and inspires us to share more.

Here are a few things our participants have said during this year:

“An enjoyable, tightly focused, effective guide to facilitation. If you are looking for ways to improve your meetings, I recommend it without reservation.”

“This workshop was a huge leap forward for me professionally. It’s a perfect combination of theory and practice, of the cerebral and the intuitive side of facilitation. I have already applied some of the learnings to my work, with immediate result.”

“I appreciate that there is room for personal feedback, and the focus is on ourselves, our style and our strengths and opportunities (without losing sight of weaknesses or threats), and not on ‘what a facilitator should be’. Eye-opener.”

“Facilitating is an art. Sarah and her team helped me understand, interpret and craft my own piece of it.”

The Capital One Team after A Guide to Facilitation in Seattle.

Thank you so much for all the feedback, and we are looking forward to hearing more!

 

 

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Book Recommendation # 6: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the one thing over which I have control – myself.” – Stephen R. Covey

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey might seem like a self-help book and is in many ways so, both professionally and personally. The book is about self-leadership after all and Covey highlights simple yet complex ideas which resonate with most of us. Though this isn’t a quick-fix, checklist, done tomorrow book like the many that are out there. This is a book that you will want to read, re-read and really study as Covey takes you through what he calls a “paradigm shift” in your personal self. Proactivity is a word that many in the business world like to use yet are not walking the talk. Stephen R. Covey takes you to the core of real proactivity and gives you the way towards actualizing your desired best self, and not only leading yourself but other as well. The concepts in 7 habits link very well with facilitative leadership and how to develop yourself which is crucial for anybody applying facilitation. This is a book that both has inspired us and does so still today.

You can find the book here

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Book Recommendation #5 – The Art of Facilitation by Dr. Dale Hunter

Dr. Dale Hunter is a leader and author within the field of facilitation and we think The Art of Facilitation is a great resource for first-time facilitators or professionals who want to get a basic introduction to the field of facilitation. This book is packed with easy to grasp concepts without being too abstract, and also comes with a numerous amount of practical exercises. We recommend this book for you who have just stumbled upon facilitation and want to understand the mindset and how facilitation is practiced. We also think that this book is great for new facilitators or facilitators in training, who want something to revise, as it is a book that can easily be used for revising tools and concepts in a daily use.

You can find the book here

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Book Recommendation #4: Process Consultation by Edgar Schein

Edgar Schein is a former professor of the MIT Sloan School of Management and is a notable mark on organizational development and culture. With multiple publications, experience and research under his belt his books have an extensive amount of information and can sometimes be a real academic read, though worth it. For those who want a less heavy read yet highly practical guide then Process Consultation is a perfect fit. It is both humble and realistic book on the delicate art of intervening at process levels of an organization without creating dependency on your clients. One of the big factors Schein points out is the difference between “content” consulting and “process” consulting which is something we believe is utterly important to distinct when changing an organization. We could probably recommend every publication by Schein but we think this book is one for facilitators whether or not they are consultants or managers.

You can purchase the book here

Also, check out the post where Kris starts differentiating project managers and facilitators if you are more interested in Content vs. Process: Facilitator & Project Manager — What’s The Difference?

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Book Recommendation #3: Leadership & The New Science by Margaret Wheatley

“The things we fear most in organisations – fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances – are the primary sources of creativity.”
― Margaret J. Wheatley

Many would agree business and management can be chaotic at times and Leadership & The New Science is an inspirational read on organizations and the similarities of how we study chaos theory. Margaret Wheatley explores relationships and how they matter in organizations, why interconnectedness exist both naturally and are needed for growth, and why chaos and change are the means to transformation. We think this is both an eye-opening book, that gives inspiration and perspective in a more casually yet profoundly written way, linking everyday life and nature together.

If this sounds like a book you want to read you can find it here

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Book Recommendation #2 Facilitating with Ease! by Ingrid Bens

We think Facilitating with Ease is an intuitive book which provides more in-depth insights into the principles of facilitation than most. This is a book filled with practical applications for concrete situations and is filled with a good amount of exercises, surveys, and checklists for your own facilitation development. Ingrid Bens is very thorough and also brings forth important behaviors which most don’t always look for when facilitating. Whether you are new or an experienced facilitator, this is a great tool to review your own practice and approaches from time to time. We recommend using the book as a reference guide rather than reading it from beginning to end. You will find relevant chapters for the situations you are finding yourself in and can easily look at the others as well to gain new insights for many years to come.

You can find the book here

PS. This book is better in physical form rather than the digital version.

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Book Recommendation #1 – The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge

“Learning organizations are possible because, deep down, we are all learners. No one has to teach an infant to learn. In fact, no one has to teach infants anything. They are intrinsically inquisitive, masterful learners who learn to walk, speak, and pretty much run their households all on their own.” – Peter Senge

We believe that The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge is a must for anybody who wants to understand the impact of systems and how to change organizations. At the time this book was published in 1990 the ideas seemed radical though today the philosophies and practices are both highly relevant and have started being established in business today. A systemic learning approach is growing and Senge’s book introduces frameworks such as personal mastery, shared vision, mental models, and team learning. We believe this is a great book with both examples and practices that will give you a fundamental understanding of organizational change, strategy, and development relevant for today’s rapidly changing landscape.

You can find the book here 

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How to Gain Experience as a Facilitator

So, you’ve started to grasp parts of what facilitation is about.

Now the question stands: How do I become a facilitator?

First off, there is no right of passage or a board of facilitators that will give you a badge and say “You are now a facilitator!”. Here’s part of my journey and what I believe helped me gain the experience and confidence to call myself a facilitator.

Facilitation was something that came naturally to me as a kid. I always wanted to bring the whole group together & create together, never wanting to make the decisions or make people do things. I never really understood why I should force things.

Though not until recent years did I understand that there was a word for what I was doing and that I could actually apply it to businesses & change the people around me.

1. Reach out, read, interview, discuss

First, I started reaching out to people who called themselves facilitators, talked to people, interviewed, searched for tools and asked for reading material; there are a lot of tool books out there but understanding the mindset and process of facilitation was a bit harder to find.

2. Create the opportunities to try & use facilitation

Secondly, I was lucky enough to be in a creative business school who encouraged facilitative leadership. So I decided to make the room and time to develop that skill. First I started by asking to lead team development sessions, wrap ups of projects and shadow our program managers when they would start off projects.

I listened and analysed how and why they would use certain tools, questions and looked at things such as timing & their workshop designs.

3. Take a course which focuses on foundations and your tailored needs

Sarah Gregersen, whom I work with today at The Other Potential, came to our school to teach a 5-day facilitation course and 5 minutes in I knew I had to pick her brain. She not only taught facilitation, she also applied it everyday.

4. Get a mentor, work for them and do all the nitty gritty stuff

The biggest game-changer in my development was to get a mentor and that mentor was Sarah. I wanted it to be a mutual exchange of time, knowledge and favours and presented it like that. I had no idea of what I could give her but one thing that was apparent was that I wanted to learn.

Facilitation isn’t only about being on the floor and by getting to help a mentor I got that experience. I got the experience of doing the nitty-gritty work; some of it I enjoyed, some not as much. But just like eating is a lot of fun, you can start finding joy in the cooking, the prep work and even doing the dishes if you allow yourself to look at it differently, especially if you’re curious.

TL:DR or to Summarise it

Facilitation is all about the process so look at the process. Look at the bigger systemic process and also look at the process of how facilitators work. I would have never gotten the experience of designing a spreadsheet for a workshop if I hadn’t reached out to do work for my mentor and I would have never gotten the feedback & tips when working the floor.

I would like to highlight that facilitation is about transformational leadership and leaders are chosen when the roll & situation asks for it, some days it might be your mother taking charge of the family dinner or that quiet guy in the corner who knows how and where to go to safety in an office fire.

One thing facilitation does focus on is growth, setting a learning or creative environment for the participants. With some thought and reflections I believe you can imagine those situations and find where you can grow yourself and apply your art of facilitation.

Good luck and if you want to discuss, get tips on material and more then feel free to contact us.

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Facilitator & Project Manager — What’s The Difference?

Lately I’ve realised the need to clarify the differences between a project manager and a facilitator with clients and individuals who have come to see the potential of bringing in facilitators.

Therefore I thought we could take a quick look at the two roles and also introduce a model to have in mind.

Let’s start by taking a look at the dictionary definitions of the two:

Project Manager

noun
1. the person in overall charge of the planning and execution of a particular project.

Facilitator

[fuh-sil-i-tey-ter] noun
1. a person or thing that facilitates.
2. a person responsible for leading or coordinating the work of a group, as one who leads a group discussion.

There’s already a few clear differences in the definitions:

Project Manager — Plan & Execute
Facilitator — Lead & Coordinate.

I would like to introduce the content-process model which is great to have in mind when thinking about the differences.

Content-Process Model

content-process-model

A project manager will often have the mandate to make decisions on the content. Ex. if a product will be launched or who will execute which task. Facilitators on the other hand don’t have the mandate to make decisions or telling who will be creating or executing.

As a facilitator your focus is on leading the process, making the most value for the participants and in no way creating, deciding, or changing the content.

Meaning facilitators can be brought in for short term to long term projects. Everything from a 30 minute meeting to a blended learning project which can span a few years. They are often brought into help with planning as process consultants and can give advice on how to plan a process or design a process for a client. Though in the end it is up to the client to decide on what kind of content they want.

There are of course many situations which people can switch between the roles. The facilitator role can be adapted by a project manager when needed but I urge to make it explicit which role you are in; not only for yourself but also the people you surround yourself with. The outcome will be very different if you are there for the participants process or the desired content.

I hope to have been able to bring some clarity to the two and feel free to use the content vs process model as an example when you are facilitating.

Before I finish off I would like to share a quote by David Sibbet which we at The Other Potential believe is a good definition of facilitation:

“Facilitation is the art of leading people through processes towards agreed upon objectives, in a way that fosters participation, creativity and ownership from all involved”

– David Sibbet

Signing off for now and do give us a shout if you’re interested in discussing deeper on the subject.

Photo credit: Julien Harneis / CC BY-SA

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Why You Should Stop Trying to Motivate People

A bonus here, a raise there. Or maybe we should use fear instead? The classical carrot vs whip dilemma to either increase efficiency or lower the turnover rates. There are a lot research papers showing that employees are engaged somewhere from 17–35%. I find that a bit scary.

Extrinsic motivators such as carrots seem like the good guy way of doing it but it never really pans out in the end. If somebody else is offering a tastier carrot people will go for that one instead.

You’ve most likely come in contact with sales-driven companies where there are constant competitions between individuals and teams on who can sell the most or figure out a solution the fastest. Yet I don’t need to state a bunch of statistics to argue that their turnover rates are pretty high. Sure, people get stuff done on short terms but how many get left behind, irritated, hating their job, just for a little bit more money? How many of those go on to having 40 year old crises and totally changing their career path, get totally burnt out or depressed? A good amount.

Instead of making sure they get what they want, start asking why or how things drive them.

The room for reflection is often the first thing to go in stressful situations and in my opinion it should be held onto the most. We don’t learn from failures without the time to reflect on what happened and if we don’t have the space to talk with others and share our reflections we lose out on all those chances of connecting on a deeper level. The connections that enable us to collaborate.

How many times have you been in situations where small petty things became huge over time because somebody didn’t take the time to talk it out?

You can’t motivate people; though you can ask the right questions which will make them find their inner motivation. Giving people the space for reflection on intrinsic motivators create meaning which creates participation on a much deeper level. When each person isn’t resisting their own feelings and is able to go to bed thinking: Ah, that felt meaningful today. Then you can actually keep them engaged.

Too many of us are scared of letting people think for themselves believing that once they do; they will leave the company or get disengaged from the project, etc. No, quite the contrary; if you create the space for self-leadership, reflection on own motivations for every team you will get a team or company that aren’t a bunch of happy dogs running around for treats but actual people. People who will figure out creative solutions to whatever task they have at hand. People who are driven by their inner monologues and meaning. People who are happy and want to share that happiness. People who are motivated.

So, next time you are thinking:

 Ah, we need to get this done fast and much better!!!

Why not try slowing down & take your foot off the gaspedal? Start talking about what’s going on, what people are feeling, why they’re feeling like that and don’t forget yourself.

If you need some tips & tools on how to create that space for reflection you can contact us anytime!

Photo credit: Allegory Malaprop CC BY-ND