Spring Cleaning for Your Team

Add some extra Team Performance with some “Spring Cleaning.” Try it, you’ll like it!

I was looking at Martha Stewart’s Spring Cleaning Checklist and it inspired me to do a little spring cleanup with my teams.  Here are 5 ideas that have the power to create a stronger, more successful team for you.

1. Clean the Windows Reconnect to & Re-Clarify your Team Vision, Goals and/or Desired Outcomes.   Schedule  time together to focus on your team vision or outcome.  Has it evolved?  Is everyone working toward that same outcome?  What would make each team member feel successful at the end of the team’s work together or even at a intermediate step? Special tip!  Have each member imagine their success as part of this team and write down 1-3 things personally and professionally to share with the team.  This engages the whole person and connects them personally to the work.  By sharing with others they see common ideas and can support each other.

2. Clean Out the Clutter – Identify Priorities and Key Steps toward each Goal.  What are the team’s priorities, member priorities?  Are there key steps toward the Goal?  One of my team’s recently started working with PICK FOUR by Seth Godin using Zig Ziglar’s wisdom.  Kinda fun, hard work … definitely a way to get through the clutter!

3. Dust & Vacuum Bring clarity to your landscape.  It’s always good to keep up with dusting and vacuuming, ie checking your assumptions and hypotheses, adding new questions and checking  off old ones,  understanding your team challenges and even team supports.  Another way to bring clarity is through the Drexler-Sibbet Team Performance Model.  Where is your team on the model, what is working well, anything unresolved?

4. Ensure Fire Safety – Engage external support and Review alternate scenarios.  I love this idea!  Are you actively working with your external stakeholders?  Is everyone in the team keeping their external supporters engaged in the work the team is accomplishing?  And,  are team members communicating a unified story outside the team?  Does the external environment require you to have alternate plans?

5. Organize, Organize, Organize – Make your work as a Team EASIER.  What would make the work easier?  Start with a conversation about how each team member gets their work done best will spark some ideas.  I did a little ‘spring cleaning’ with my IdeaConnect printing group and through our conversation we had some great ideas to inspire EASE with some added some efficiency, and a little magic! (And, We love magic!!)

So what’s your favorite approach to Spring Cleaning?  And, how might you apply to the teams you lead or participate in? Please share!  We’d all benefit from your tried and true approaches and ideas!

PS – If you’re wondering how to bring a visual element to team spring cleaning, try the Team StartUp kit (or should I say Team Re-StartUp Kit)

Say What?

Yesterday I had the pleasure of delivering a Bonus Training* in Depth Story Analysis to a small group of LCF200 and 300 grads. I haven’t trained anyone in depth story analysis for some time and was pleased to have an experiential remembering of the power of diving deep into collage stories and transcripts and groups of stories beyond the first pass analysis. Pretty fun and exciting. As I am fond of saying, there’s always more you can do; there’s always more you can learn.

And this depth story analysis, while tricky to facilitate a novice team through, can deliver some pretty great insight into the land of the unarticulated.

Yep, the ever elusive and sought after unarticulated.

The word “unarticulated” is thrown around in consumer research circles a lot. So I decided to look up a definition online. Not much there … I looked up “articulated“: intelligible, clear or effective expression. Okay then, “unarticulated” may mean unintelligible, unclear or ineffective expression. And, I think in the consumer research realm “unarticulated” may also refer to that which is not said, cannot be expressed or does not want to be expressed.

So the BIG question. Once you discover, uncover, recover the unarticulated … then what??

Perhaps the most obvious answer — go check in with your target audience. My experience is when you do check in with your target there are two possible responses: #1 Heads nodding yes, that’s obvious, of course; or #2 No way! What – are you joking?!? That’s not what I think or feel at all (or I don’t want to/I’m not ready to know that about myself).

If you get response #2 does that mean you missed something or interpreted your analysis all wrong? Or might you be simply off the mark in your articulation of the unarticulated? Remember, by definition, unarticulated is something that has not been clearly and effectively expressed – something that’s not ready to be said – or something that’s not known enough to be shared. So if your target audience hasn’t articulated it how do you put words in their mouths particularly if you’re not part of the target? You get the wrong words … then what?

So I’m curious. What do you do with the unarticulated you discover??

* Bonus Trainings — the idea of offering special training events to our emerging community of LearningConnect 200 and 300 level facilitators — are something we’re playing with at IdeaConnect. For more information, drop us a note or give us a call.

Learning Something New

What can I learn through my mind’s imagination that is real and accurate, or rather how much can I really learn just through my mind, through thinking?

I keep getting this vision of Dancing with the Stars – you know, the show where stars are paired up with dancers and compete. I don’t really watch the show, but I understand the concept. And I was thinking if I wanted to learn ballroom dancing, well, what might I do?

I could read about ballroom dancing; I could get one of those books that have the dance steps illustrated with 1, 2, 3, 4 arrows; I could watch ballroom dancing on TV; I could observe others ballroom dancing live and in person; and I could do ballroom dancing myself. At what point am I learning ballroom dancing? I think this came forward for me as an example, because while I can dance, dance, dance around a room, I have no skill in paired, structured ballroom dancing at all – just ask my husband.

So at what point would I be learning ballroom dancing?

When I go to the inner for an answer, I get this image and feeling of being in a room full of air movement, the sound of fabric sweeping by me, the sounds and the movement of dancers dancing in a room. And then I have the feeling of being part of the flow, being in the movement of the dance myself. My whole body gliding in circles around a room, the centrifugal force arcing round and round and round. That’s all in my imagination – I can imagine a multi-sensory experience. But, I still have no skill in paired, structured ballroom dancing.

To really truly learn to dance I’d have to do it, be in the dance, to experience the dance physically and emotionally for myself. Without the experience I can really only guess what I would learn – head, heart, body learn.

And I’d have to choose to be fully present in each moment.

I realize this is an example of learning a physical skill. So what if what I want to learn isn’t in the physical skill realm – like, let’s say, I want to understand why a specific demographic or psychographic group interacts with a totally new-to-them product or service. How do I learn experientially then?

How would you?

 

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.