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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

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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What makes a great conference?

At the end of the first day, feedback from some table hosts was not good. “If we keep going on this, we will lose them tomorrow”. It was a critical point in the conference. Five star hotel, beautiful food, an ample budget, 200 smart people, great hospitality staff, and in imminent danger of going off the rails. The convenor made a snap decision to reshape the table topics, and respond to specific requests. The next day, the participants sailed through, with high energy and enormous focus. I see lots of conferences, and this was a great one. What were the elements? There was a clear and urgent
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I offended someone yesterday

“All life is meeting” Martin Buber I offended someone yesterday. After a workshop, a woman came and told me that I had embarrassed her in front of colleagues and subordinates. I apologized. She left quickly, still unhappy. She was also a senior officer in the organisation for which I was working. As I cleaned up the training room, I pondered whether to go back up in the lift to reception on the next floor, ask for her and apologized again. There were good reasons not to bother. I was busy, it was a minor workshop in a larger suite of activities, she might not be available or willing to talk. A
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Creating Learning Networks

A Guidebook for creating rural learning networks Ian Colley, Bruce Thomson and Monica Redden This project developed a Guidebook for creating and sustaining rural skill networks. It involved extensive discussions with primary producers, farmers, extension officers and people involved in regional business development networks. The main focus was on developing strategic management skills through group activities among primary producers and related networks. The project also involved the creation of new networks, including the multiple award winning “Outback Beds” agritourism network. This project
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Urban and Regional Revitalisation

The success of major projects relies on a complex mix of planning, politics, community and business. A strong partnership approach that engages key stakeholders smoothes the way. We have worked with small businesses, big business, government ministers, agencies, local councils, artists, shopkeepers and students to bring energy and focus to revive local economies.
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Getting here from there – the paradox of the future

A tourist in Dublin asks a local resident for directions and gets this reply “ahh you can be getting there well enough, but I wouldn’t be starting from here”. Matt Taylor, who invented the ‘DesignShop’ methodology (for more detail, see below), encourages ambitious change agents and innovators to “start from there, not from here”. In other words, get clear about the future before the doing the planning, problem-solving or design work. Solutions-focus consulting has a similar entry point. A vision can be powerful – the whales returning to Sydney Harbour, a man on the moon, a boat of asylum seeke
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