The learning continues

18 May 2011 0 By Viv McWaters

My style of facilitation is disruptive and improvisational. What that means is that if you’re in one of my workshops, you’re likely to feel some discomfort, unease, frustration even. And you might also have fun, be active, be curious, be inspired, and learn something about yourself and others. And that’s as true for me as it is for you!

Which flags the question of “Why?” It would certainly be easier, safer and a lot less stressful, to do a more mainstream facilitation approach of giving people what they want, making it easy for them, even doing their work. But no, I take risks, go out on a limb, try to disrupt patterns, create a liminal space for learning. It’s challenging, and it’s rewarding. It’s not guaranteed to work either (what facilitation is?) It’s not the sort of work to be tackled alone, which is why I’m grateful to others who are willing to go along for the ride. And what a bumpy ride it is at times! It’s easy to be influenced by the negatives, by the nay-sayers, by the second-hand comments which invariable start as “people are saying…” And it’s easy to forget that a lot of other people are okay.

I’ve noticed that I really get into deep water when there’s split intentions. We want to do this AND that, and there’s the danger of doing neither well. During the course of the workshop, one intention usually gets subsumed by the other, and it’s the people attached to the other intention that are frustrated.

So, naturally, I liked this video from Dwight Towers about the audience as ‘ego-fodder’. It brilliantly sums up some of the frustrations of trying to encourage groups to shift from stand-and-deliver approaches to more participatory and self-discovery approaches. While Dwight’s video particularly focuses on public meetings, I think it’s also true for in-house meetings too. His definition of ego-fodder is “the audience at any public event, big or small, that has not been structured by the organisers to provoke the highest possible amount of participation, engagement and mingling…”

Here’s the link if you can’t see the video in your browser:

Are you brave enough to try and change the culture of your meetings?