Opportunities – workshops and courses

Workshops, events and courses coming up in 2018:

Upcoming courses: Facilitation Essentials (one day course), Sydney

Friday, March 9
Tuesday, May 22,
Wednesday, July 4
Thursday,Sep 13
Wednesday, Nov 21

Book here

Neutral! Are you joking?

Professional facilitators are meant to be independent. They are not partisan participants in the difficult conversations they host. This independence translates as neutrality on the issues in contention. In circumstances where there are not necessarily polarised positions, this neutrality also means that the facilitator does not introduce her own ideas into the conversation. The role is to support the group to shape its own perspectives. However, most people who are interested in meetings are not professional facilitators. They have a job to do, a proposal to finalise. They are often responsib
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Circle of influence, circle of concern – A tool

There are times when individuals or teams get overwhelmed by concerns about looming events – restructures, change initiatives, job insecurity. People may be feeling powerless and demoralised. This activity aims to help focus people on aspects of work over which they have some control. And defuse unproductive concerns. It can take 15–40 mins depending on the scale and intensity of the concerns. 1. Prepare a large flip chart sheet with two concentric circles. 2. Invite the team to identify current concerns – by writing each concern on a post-it note. 3. Invite each team member to call each item
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Keep a light touch

“Each time a facilitator does something for a group, he or she deprives others of a chance to be responsible.” – Janoff and Weisbord A number of times in this text, I have offered gentle advice about keeping a ‘light touch’. There are so many layers beneath the apparent simplicity of this advice. When teaching facilitation I often advise students to keep a ‘light touch’. There are so many layers beneath the apparent simplicity of this advice. The first layer is a caution. In the middle of a session, if you feel like you are wading through deep mud, pushing and shoving to keep things movi
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But it’s just a meeting

In my facilitation courses I introduce students to all sorts of tools to make their meetings more stimulating, and more engaging. I have managed to get up to nine headings including items such as checking expectations, changing pace, framing the culture, shifting the levels of interaction (individual, pair, small group, plenary), structured stimulus activities. Specific ideas underneath these headings include stand-up spectograms, storytelling, SWOT analysis. People enjoy the ideas, but a very common response after happily reviewing the ideas is “I can’t do this in my workplace. People will th
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Dealing with difficult people

When times get tough… While there are some toxic people in the world – people who will disrupt or sabotage a meeting under any circumstances – these are rare. Most ‘difficult’ people are difficult for a reason.  In the most basic terms, they expect or experience not being heard.  Returning to the opening page of this book (’Thinking big and thinking simple’),  they come into a conversation unable to register their feelings or intentions in an appropriate way.  Assume most people are reasonable, and expect them to attribute reasonableness to you and others.  Then look for elem
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Management myths

Authenticity is a myth, planning is abstract idealism, facilitation is a fool’s game, and don’t even mention mindfulness. As a natural-born masochist, I enjoy having my assumptions shattered. That’s what I do in my spare time. So a few months ago I went to a two day workshop on Complexity Science. Searching for interesting approaches to dialogue and meaningful conversations, I had fallen upon Ralph Stacey’s assertion that “Organisations are ongoing patterns of relating between people,” visible as “conversational processes.” Much of his early work in the 1990s was inspired by complexity science
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Facilitation Essentials

Course detail The ‘why’ of facilitation • The power of the group • Roles and skills of facilitators • The language of facilitation • A simple model – from conversation to dialogue • The fundamental distinction between content and process.Why facilitators don’t have to be subject experts • Balancing the known and the unknown Planning and preparation – the three P’s Purpose • Design for purpose – starting with the end in mind • Writing a purpose statement that is powerful • Managing the tension around purpose – too sharp or too loose? • Registering the probable issues People • Cateri
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There are only three types of meetings in the whole wide world

There are only three types of meetings in the world and here is why. I invite you to join me in a bold exercise to get clarity and simplicity into the craft of meeting design. How do you create an appropriate agenda for diverse circumstances? If you haven’t go the patience to work through the steps with me, just skip to the table at the end of this blog. Dorothy Strachan, in her excellent book on Process Design for facilitators, argues for five ‘process frameworks’. In simple language she is talking about designs for different kinds of meetings. Three of Dorothy’s process frameworks are: Enabl
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Planning for facilitation – the 3 big P’s

PURPOSE, PEOPLE and PROCESS (and product, probable issues, power and place just to keep the ‘P’ thing rolling along)   1. Purpose – the WHAT and the WHY   Purpose is gold. And too-often hidden. Get it clear. WHAT are you aiming to achieve. Begin with the end in mind. Get the purpose sharp and available to the group. They should know exactly what they are coming for days before they arrive in the room. Write out your aim. Use an active verb with an observable and specific outcome. Don’t use verbs like “explore”, “understand” or “know” – they are not observable. Example: “T
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