A quick hello to say I am now tweeting thanks to the fine folks from #NV11 and #OCE2011 such as @bxmx and @ToriKlassen. I am still learning however so far I have been using tags such as:
#adaptation – climate change adaptation
#KM – knowledge management
#NV11 – Northern Voice
#Etug – another great event that was in Nelson and used graphic recording
#rosviz – a graphic facilitation workshop I host in Rossland July 13-15
It’s still new but looking forward to ongoing tweets! You can follow me at @Mklaurie
I will post more as I learn more. So far there have been benefits particularly around crowd sourcing knowledge, sharing quick information and event specific information (real time sharing). If you have a specific use or learning about tweeting, please let me know via the comments below.
Dining for Women in Rossland Visual Brainstorm by Michelle Laurie
This post is to share two great things:
1. Dining for Women is a group that originated in the US to support and empower women in developing countries. Instead of going out for dinner to a restaurant, women get together for a potluck and donate the money they would have spent otherwise to a common charity. Chapters have popped up across the US and one night of small dinner potlucks in many locations can raise over $20,000.00/month. Groups are researched by the organization and a different cause is supported each month. The organizers also provide background material to the local chapters, including a short video and country facts to help provide context for the dinner discussion. Dining for Women speaks to me for many reasons. Here are a few things it illustrates:
- The power of the collective.
- Every person can contribute.
- Scaling up can have real impact and is worth the effort.
- Great ideas are easy to spread.
- Planning support (through materials, discussion ideas) is helpful to stimulate meaningful conversations.
2. Visual Thinking and Visual Recording. I have been engaging in graphic facilitation slowly over the past few years however after hosting a 2 day workshop on the topic with Nancy White as the facilitator, I am keen to really practice and use visual methods in my work. Nancy’s advice during the workshop was to take visual notes during regular meetings, look for icons and when given the opportunity simply get up and try. I had hoped at the Dining for Women gathering in Rossland, we could use a blank wall to help people share their thoughts. Given the busy evening with many activities taking place, the wall was still blank when everyone left. Days later I decided to record my impression of Dining for Women in Rossland. The visual is above and this is what I was hoping to express:
- Four themes of Dining for Women that took place during the past year.
- Rossland is the first Canadian chapter of Dining for Women.
- Dining for Women is rooted in supporting the Millennium Development Goals.
- Reasons why women in Rossland are excited about participating.
- Some of the topics and themes we discuss at our potluck dinners.
Hosting meaningful conversations supported by meaningful visuals is something I am striving for in my work. For now, I will keep practicing at the wall and in my notebook and the next Dining for Women is at the end of the month…
City of Vancouver is starting a conversation on sustainability, this is from their website.
Last night, the City of Vancouver launched a conversation on sustainability with an evening of PechaKucha. This is a group- chit-chat on a design topic where people have 20 seconds for 20 slides over the course of six and half minutes. I wasn’t sure what to expect in the 2000+ packed theatre but it was indeed an evening of inspiring stories and thought.
In terms of a process for engagement the room was too big for group interaction so conversations are expected to happen on line after the event. However, I do think (and have heard) that in smaller settings, this can be a great format for stimulating real time innovations. In a venue where interaction could take place, the presenters could share their greatness, stimulate people to act, AND ALSO seek feedback on their projects, figure out new ways forward together and hence collaborate and group-think on the future of design and ideas throughout the evening. This could also be a useful format in the workplace for stimulating new design theories or generating new projects. Donors could use the method to get ideas around project funding. It could also be a great way for staff to report out on what is happening around a company in different divisions. The qualifier is that people need to put effort and thought into their presentations to ensure they are interesting and snappy.
The presenters with the most impact last night told stories, built up their messaging, and included simple concepts with repetition. I really liked those that helped us imagine the future (rather than only think about the past/present) and provided a place for us, the audience, to imagine ourselves in that new future. These are worthwhile tips for anyone that goes out to present ideas to an audience.
So what interesting tidbits did I get out of last night’s chit-chat? Here is a smattering of fragments that stuck with me:
- Think about our city and our world as a living laboratory
- Vancouver has the greenest building code in North America
- Human power is inspiring
- Contention is okay, difference is a point of negotiation
- Take things apart and put them together in new ways
- We have islands of sustainability in the swamps of business as usual
- Flash mob potlucks with secret locations and celebrations of food
- Stories are the best way to share, engage and help people to remember
- Change the story, change the culture
- All scales needed – The grid (establishment), the wave (the societies, community groups), the shire (toilers of the soil)
- Have intent
- Step deeper into stories and culture..its not always about a lighter footprint
- Connections provide added value, i.e. think computers as stand alone boxes and then computers working on networks and using the internet
- Incremental change
- Go beyond the property line to the next level of intelligence
- Other peoples problems are my problems
- Humour in activism
- Live a little, change a lot
- The U generation (based on the U-turn), no matter your age we all have a role to play
Thanks to the hosts and presenters for a very interesting evening!
Stress balls can be a tactic to ease peoples tensions at meetings
Lately I have been exposed to potential meetings where conflict may arise. At a minimum people who participate are dissatisfied or have a beef to voice. They may have legitimate concerns and being prepared to listen and work with the conflict is important as the meeting facilitator.
I plan to write more on this and would like to learn more about handling difficult conversations. In the meantime, I am going to try some tactics that I know about. For example, today I plan to bring stress balls for the five folks who may need to squeeze something in the moment. If it doesn’t quite ease the conflict, I hope it will ease the vibe in the room. Nothing beats naming the issue and laughing together in a group meeting.
Anyone else have tips for addressing conflicts and difficult conversations?
I went to a concert tonight by Jesse Cook. Besides being an extraordinary musician, he truly engaged his audience. He got the entire room to talk, clap, cheer, hum, dance and eventually sing. This was quite a feat for a theatre style room where everyone was seated in their rows diligently facing the stage.
Lessons can be learned here in terms of engaging the group:
1. Taking people out of their comfort zone creates a memorable experience for them.
2. Providing an opportunity to sing and dance is liberating for most people.
3. Having fun is engaging.
Of course you need to be a confident leader and your audience needs to trust you in order to confidently walk this path. Still, I hope to learn from this wonderful musician and take some of his engagement tools into my workshops and presentations. Thanks to Jesse Cook and his band for a wonderful evening!
The power of great conversation never ceases to amaze me.
The keys to a great conversation for me include:
- Expanding the boundaries on a topic to expose complexities
- Listening with intent to reflect on a variety of view points
- Feeling like your voice is contributing to an evolving conversation…not a static argument of opinions.
While this may seem obvious, a bad conversation can be truly disempowering. It is important to feel that certain principles for an open and interesting dialogue will be in play before deciding to engage.