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Managing Oneself – Lessons in and from facilitation

Managing oneself might be the greatest challenge in facilitation (and the most interesting opportunity for personal and professional growth).   When things go wrong it is never easy.  A woman in my training class, who had a persistent stance of opposition and bewilderment, commented that a good trainer should be able to pitch to the lowest skill level in the class. It was an attack and an invitation. The comment
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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-u
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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
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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
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Facilitation Essentials – one day course

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 th
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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 f
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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
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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 tu
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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 poss
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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
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