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

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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About facilitation – thinking big and thinking simple

The best place to start thinking about facilitation is from a very simple place. What makes a great conversation, one to one, or in a small group? In the course of this conversation, something shifts, for all parties. New meaning is created, future directions become clear, needs are met, and commitments are made. Good conversations always enter unknown territory. When you start, you don’t actually know how it will turn out with your partners. You may have a purpose, or an end in mind. But this purpose must allow for other voices and other expectations. If you are just pushing for a specific re
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What we learn from Tolstoy

In Tolstoy’s novel War and Peace, Pierre returns a changed man, after nearly being executed by the French. “There was a new feature in Pierre’s relations with Willarski, with the princess, with the doctor, and with all the people he now met, which gained for him the general goodwill. This was his acknowledgement of the impossibility of changing a man’s convictions by words, and his recognition of the possibility of everyone thinking, feeling, and seeing things each from his own point of view… The difference, and sometimes complete contradiction, between men’s opinions and the
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Courage and Renewal

  At 9am on a Sunday morning, in front of a group of new acquaintances, I was shedding quiet tears. From a bluetoothed ipad, Cat Stevens sang ‘Morning has Broken’ as I regarded a carpet of tree collages on the floor of the meeting room – the product of a workshop exercise the previous day. Let me be clear. I don’t cry in public. I reserve that for movies, in private, about dogs doing something noble. What was I doing here? And why was I so moved? It was the last day of a retreat called ‘Courage and Renewal’. Neil Millar, one of the facilitators, had joked “We will be using a methodology w
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What makes great dialogue: conversations with depth and delight

Thinking about facilitation. I ran a session at Sydney Facilitators Network last month. The question was “What nurtures great dialogue?” We ran a ‘fish bowl’ role play with seven people conducting a dialogue, the rest of us paying close attention to the dynamics. The instruction to observers was to stay more alive to process than to the content. When the role play finished I asked for two observers to debrief each dialogue participant in a small group, and add their own observations. This was to avoid the risks of more public feedback (just in case any honest observations were too blunt for th
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