The Elemental Art and Practice of Facilitation

I’ve been preparing for our 2012 LearningConnect Facilitator training sessions. Thought I’d share what’s at the core of all our offerings – the Elements of the Art and Practice of Facilitative Leadership. 

These core, essential ingredients represent a powerful synthesis of the teachings of my teacher and business coach Lisa Michaels’ Elemental Forces of Creation and David Sibbet’s Grove’s Facilitation Model and the Four Flows. I’ve been playing with, working with and internalizing both these sets of teachings for years to deepen my own understanding.  And in applying to my personal facilitative practice, and every day life, I’m sharing what I’ve learned with you and everyone who attends our workshops and training.

Here’s a little bit of an introduction:

  • the Element of Fire – Managing Attention and Action – How to energize grounded action. Enroll and orient to the desired outcomes. Set the energetic movement for a session and add energy to keep things moving. Illuminate new learning through application to real business. Activate the power of practical action in a facilitative environment.
  • the Element of Water – Managing Energy – How to feel into the emotional flow as participants learn and apply new information to their work. Invite full participation, build trust in the process and support any resistance to change in order to gain full alignment. Respond to unanticipated change with ease and flexibility. Develop emotional maturity. Understand the power of love to work internally and externally as a facilitative leader.
  • the Element of Air – Managing Information – How to engage and stimulate the mental realm. Set personal intention. Provide clarity around learning outcomes and objectives. Combine technology and low tech / high connect approaches to direct the flow of learning. Engage the power of intention to guide your facilitative leadership.
  • the Element of Earth – Managing Operations and Ownership – How to coordinate the physical details necessary for planning and delivering successful programs. Build commitment to the process and actions to be taken. Transfer ownership through ongoing coaching. Align to the power to stand on your own as a facilitative leader.
  • and Spirit – Actualizing your Unique Facilitative Leader Self – Identify and express your unique, authentic characteristics and creative essence as a facilitative leader.

Interest peaked just a bit? Want to know a little more? Want to successfully bring the Elements of Facilitation into your own life and your own work more consciously? Drop us a note or come join us at one of our upcoming training or workshop events soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are You a Tourist or a Traveler?

“The difference between landscape and landscape is small, but there is a great difference between the beholders.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

There’s this tourist and traveler comparison I love when I think about consumer research approaches. Here goes:

As a tourist I go to some far off exotic land and I have an agenda of activities, I observe the culture at a safe distance, go to the must-see places, maybe a museum or two, eat at restaurants recommended by the hotel concierge or chain restaurants familiar from home, look for newspapers and TV from home, take lots of beautiful pictures of beautiful things to post on FaceBook, and I probably only spend a day or two or maybe three in each city – you get the idea. I’ve had a great experience, but how much new did I learn about myself, about the culture, about the people who live there? I feel like I just touched the surface. This is parallel to my experience in a traditionally formatted (really good) consumer research process.

As a traveler, I immerse into the culture. Move into the rhythm of the place, slow down, spend some time, learn some of the language, wander maybe even get lost in the city, meet regular people doing regular everyday things, have totally unplanned unexpected experiences And, if I’m lucky I may even be invited for a meal at someone’s home. I connect. I know when I leave I have been touched by my experience deeply. I’ve learned so much about myself, about the culture, about the individuals I’ve met. I have stories to share that make me laugh and cry and desire more and more and more of that! This is what we need – this is what the human heart longs for. This is GREAT Consumer Research.

At IdeaConnect (and our alter ego Ah Ha!), in our practice of consumer research (aka LearningConnect), we love to be travelers and guide our clients into the learning experience of a lifetime. Our workshops are face to face (no backroom) and whenever feasible we send our client team out to visit people in their homes, to shop with them, to get to know them, to travel into their world.

And yes, sometimes if they’re lucky, they’re even invited for a memorable meal at someone’s home. Each team member is touched in a different way. They come back with pictures and treasures and stories that make us cry and laugh and want more and more and more of that!

BIG Brainstorming

Every time I print, pack and ship our magical Circle Around templates I’m almost giddy with excitement, wondering how they’ll be used this time.  I just love Circle Arounds.  I love the simplicity of a circle for gathering themes, brainstorming ideas, or discovering connections. I love the complexity of a circle to go deeper into connections, provide a holistic view, engage creativity.

Recently, I shipped ten wall size Circle Arounds, they’re BIG, 4’ x 3’ in size.   I learned they’ll be used for Brainstorming Ideas.  YAY!  I imagine a room full of people coming together to brainstorm and make new, innovative connections.  The room itself is prepared to enhance the power of people’s hearts and minds — colorful markers, sticky notes, sharpies, and other cool tools that encourage creativity.

For perspective, ten wall sized Circle Arounds collectively take up 120 square feet.  On a wall it might be 20ft x 6ft, or 40ft x 3ft.  WOW, that’s BIG brainstorming!  Hmmm … Or maybe they’ll be used on ten tables with people sitting in a circle having a brainstorming conversation.

I happily imagine what the brainstormers will learn when they step back and see the patterns, move from table to table (or wall to wall), have discussion about the common connections and themes,  bring their seed ideas into focus,  and converge on the top most intriguing or most applicable or most stretching ideas … and then create action steps.

I just love CIRCLE AROUND templates. Magic!

Venturing into the Land of OnLine Workshops

Wow! We’ve been training LearningConnect, our super revolutionary Qualitative Research and Team Learning process, live and in person for over 10 years. Hundreds of people around the world have attended our trainings and we’re getting ready to take the next step – On Line! While this won’t replace our highly regarded 3 step LearningConnect certification, we think this will be a great place to add to your knowledge, enable your facilitation arts and enhance your emerging practice.

This is your chance to learn from us from the comfort of your home or office as we share the inside scoop, the secret ingredients, the magic principles and practices that are the future of Collaborative, Creative Work.

Here are a few topics we’re considering.  It’s not an exhaustive list  because we’re hoping you’ll help us build it!

The 7 Stages of LearningConnect
New to LearningConnect? Has it been awhile since you’ve attended LearningConnect Training? Wishing someone on your team knew what you were talking about? Join this session (and invite others along) for an overview of the full LearningConnect process with some fundamental tips and techniques for facilitating your team in an immersive learning process (yep, this is where we’ll serve up some of our secret ingredients).

Making the Most of Team Start Ups
Learn simple (yet super important) practices to orient and ground your team as you step into your next project or research project. We’ll share the magic principles and practices of the Team Start Up, Success Looks Like and Speaking Our Minds templates and explore other fun and powerful activities to enrich and enliven your sessions.

Yikes! Which Template is Best?
We’ll dish up the inside scoop on the how to’s for our most popular templates (aka Cool Tools) and review the wide array of choices available. Not sure what all the options are? Which template is best for what during Data Collection? Have a favorite you use a lot and want to branch out to try new ones? This is the session for you.

 

Okay, now for your input. We’re seriously interested in YOUR ideas for topics. So what’s attracting your attention? What topics are you wishing for, hoping for, just plain want right now?

We look forward to hearing from YOU!!

Foam Core — We’re Obsessed

Back by popular demand … a previously printed and still seriously relevant blog posting from 2009!

You know from time to time we do get excited about seemingly strange things here at IdeaConnect! The latest? We just love foam core — 40″ by 60″ foam core to be more specific (we like the 3/8th inch although it is also available in 1/2 inch).

We’ve found these thin white boards to be magnificent tools in our facilitation of LearningConnect sessions. The 40″x 60″ size is perfect for our wall sized templates and with the assistance of a flipchart or even an easel, we can work effectively in rooms that have less than wonderful wall space. And, WOW! these foam core walls have 2 useable sides (yes they are magical)!!

Remember, an important element of grounded facilitation is taking care of the Operational physical details. Sometimes all the stuff required for LearningConnect even overwhelms me! So recently we’ve prepped our very portable, very light, yet surprisingly strong “walls” well before DataCollection sessions. This allows us to be more relaxed and attentive to facilitating and being with the team and workshop guests.

And when we travel, we arrange for a local art supply store to deliver 10 or so boards directly to the facility, conference center or hotel where we’re working. When we arrive our foam core boards are waiting for us to get to work. It doesn’t get better than that =)

 

Hello world!

IdeaConnect – we’ve been around for a long time – you may be an old friend or perhaps you’ve never heard of us. So here’s a little bit about us.

IdeaConnect provides tools, trainings and workshops that enhance, enable and illuminate Facilitative Leaders, so that they – meaning you – can guide teams to achieve and exceed their own expectations (“team” being a very technical term that translates roughly as “any group of people that needs to get something done.”)

We’re the R&D arm and idea generator for Ah Ha!, an innovative facilitation and consulting company that works with teams of all kinds in gaining knowledge, integrating information and developing new connections – which serves as a very successful proving ground for our theory and practice.

But we didn’t want to stop there. Because, call us crazy, we’d rather let as many people people as possible in on the not-so-secret of what we do, and enable them to go off and do it for themselves.

So no matter what industry you work in, or what job title you have, we can guide you (facilitatively, of course) toward harnessing the power of people to achieve impressive real-world results.

Where it leads? That’s up to you.