Some nice tricks for facilitators

I’m always looking for way to improve my facilitation practice. Here’s a few recent discoveries, plus some other things that have inspired me lately. And a note on upcoming training.

Best wishes – Les

1) A short sharp diversity exercise

Sometimes project teams can’t see who’s NOT in the room. Here’s a nice exercise that nails it:

“Everyone please stand up. Now sit down if…

…you grew up in a non-anglo saxon culture or bi-lingual home,

…you don’t have a university degree,

…you have a disability,

…you are under 15 or over 55,

…you’re an artist or performer,

…you’re a member of the target audience of this project.”

“Now look around and see how many are still standing.”

THEN: ask them how they could obtain the missing perspectives they need to move forward.

(Thanks Ute Diversi)

2) Great icebreakers

For facilitators, a beautiful LinkedIn thread is “What’s the best icebreaker?” It’s full of excellent ideas.

https://www.linkedin.com/grp/post/43838-6039033086413455362

A selection:

From Karen Simpson: Ask everyone to come up with 3 things about themselves one will be a lie. Ask others to guess the lie.

From Lynette Johnson: As a person who loathes ice breaker games. The best ice breaker I’ve ever done is to get the group in pairs and one tells their life story. In 5 mins. Their pair tells the group what the story teller has to offer the group. Unbelievable talents uncovered in the room beyond their job description. And respect.

From Darren Gough: Break the group into 2 or 3s. Give everyone a sheet of A4 paper and ask them to work out how they can all stand on it. I saw this done at an event of 500 people once and it worked because;
 There’s no right answer, in fact there isn’t really an answer or point but people like to figure stuff out

…it breaks down inhibition and instantly removes personal physical boundary.

..it’s funny and daft – everyone is at ease.

3) A vital strategic question: “what shouldn’t we change”

Just finished reading The Logic of Failure: Recognising and avoiding error in complex situations by Dorner Deitrich, which is a fine mental workout for anyone doing strategic planning.

He suggests a brilliant question that’s routinely forgotten in innovation or change programs:

“What features of the current situation should be retained?”

I almost felt dizzy when I read this section. What human catastrophes and waste would be avoided if this was the first question reformers asked themselves!

I recently got a chance to build it into a workshop for a national health agency that was retiring its major campaign and building a new one. It turned out to be perfect: rapidly identifying the relationships, assumptions, objectives and tactics that deserved to be passed intact into the new program. More at:

https://changeologyblog.wordpress.com/2016/02/02/one-question-to-avoid-disaster/

Pope Francis and the 15 diseases of organisations

Pope Francis is at it again, being the world’s coolest management consultant and giving stick to Vatican administrators as narcissistic, out-of-touch, self-gratifying, and so on …like so many other bureaucracies in our world. It makes beautiful reading.

https://hbr.org/2015/04/the-15-diseases-of-leadership-according-to-pope-francis

Just like Laudato si, the language is memorable and uncompromising. Here’s an example.

“The disease of closed circles, where belonging to a clique becomes more powerful than our shared identity. This disease too always begins with good intentions, but with the passing of time it enslaves its members and becomes a cancer which threatens the harmony of the organization and causes immense evil, especially to those we treat as outsiders. [This] “friendly fire” from our fellow soldiers is the most insidious danger. It is the evil which strikes from within. As it says in the bible, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste.”

Concept of the month: “Cognitive Bandwidth”

People can’t change unless they have free space and time to think, to gather the willpower, resources and courage to act. That COGNITIVE BANDWIDTH is speedily degraded by scarcity of time, money, relationships, or health. The effect is less willpower, less attention and less active intelligence. “One study revealed that simply raising monetary concerns for the poor erodes cognitive performance even more than being seriously sleep deprived: 13-14 IQ points!” wrote Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir in their book In their book Scarcity, The True Cost of Not Having Enough.

Successful change projects find ways to gift their actors the cognitive bandwidth they need by reducing the pressure of time and money by, for example, free child care, low rent housing, free food, or services that do stuff for them.

More at: https://changeologyblog.wordpress.com/2015/08/04/in-the-tunnel-how-scarcity-changes-minds/

I seriously recommend their book. Buy a copy now. It’s one of the most important easy-read texts on behaviour change published in recent years (apart from my book, of course …and anything by Chip and Dan Heath.)

Changeology and Facilitation Skills in 2016

Here are the details of the next round of training in Sydney and Melbourne:

CHANGEOLOGY (2 days)

The complete toolset for devising behaviour change projects, including innovation skills, buzz-making, and lots of inspiring examples. Plus plenty of stimulating conversations and great company. Really engage a community in change.

What it covers.
Book a place.

SYDNEY: 2-3 May 2016
Venue: The Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability, 2 Balls Head Rd, Waverton

MELBOURNE: 16-17 May 2016
Venue: CERES Environment Park, Cnr Roberts and Stewart Streets, Brunswick East

Timing: 8.45 am for a 9.00 am start, 4.30 pm finish.

Cost: $795 incl GST. [Discounts: 20% discount for self-funded participants, NGOs, and buddies – see The Buddy Effect]

Yummy lunch and 180 page training manual provided. Numbers limited.

FACILITATION SKILLS (1 day)

The foundational skills to productively facilitate almost any group in almost any situation.

What it covers.
Book a place.

SYDNEY: 5 May 2016
Venue: The Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability, 2 Balls Head Rd, Waverton

MELBOURNE: 18 May 2016
Venue: CERES Environment Park, Cnr Roberts and Stewart Streets, Brunswick East

Timing: 8.45 am for a 9.00 am start, 4.30 pm finish.

Cost: $495 incl GST. [Discounts: 20% discount for self-funded participants, NGOs, and buddies – see The Buddy Effect]

Yummy lunch and 80 page training manual provided. Numbers limited.

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