Tag Archives: Facilitation

Rosviz18 reflection part 2

See below for a second reflective guest blog from Lisa Theissen, social reporter at Rosviz18:

“I’ve been mulling over our time together, and thinking about my own Harvest from the point of view of Social Reporter. It’s always an interesting spot to hold, a little outside of things, recording everything I can, keeping track and choosing pieces to share with the online world about our work in the workshop.

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What amazes me each time we do this is how the people in the room shape the workshop. As organizer, Michelle knows the flow and shape of the exercises and of our days ahead of time. She is skillful in employing the wisdom in the room, the strengths of the attendees – which is different every time. Our Day Two was different than other Day Twos that I’ve seen at RosViz, and very rich! It was what was needed in the room, decided by the room.

This watching role allowed me the opportunity to hear both the rumblings of self doubt, self effacing comments as well as the emphatic “I CAN” moments that occurred. Beautiful, big AHA moments here and there, different for everyone.

My big AHAs this year were around how much more complex the work has become. People are taking graphic facilitation into rooms it may never have been in before, and learning new things about themselves and the groups they work with because of it.

Our group this year was looking to solve some very complex problems – to find more ways to engage their groups authentically, to facilitate respectfully, with curiosity and goals in mind.

One of the topics that came up around this was how the facilitation and recording of sensitive issues can have an emotional  impact on the facilitator/recorder. I’ve had experience with recording in sensitive situations involving violence and abuse, and know this absolutely to be true. Some of those sessions are still here in my memory as though they happened earlier today. We talked a little bit in Rossland about being aware that we can become traumatized – and I would like to add another layer, one of being aware that, through our work, we don’t re-traumatize the individuals in the room. There are a few ways to approach this, the most effective I’ve found is to talk with the group ahead of time with some possible imagery/iconography pre-drawn to represent some of the big, difficult issues that can arise and ask for approval before they are used on the chart. My experience has been that people respond very genuinely to this, and are quick and clear with their answers. It is respectful, and saves the group (or individuals within it) from unwelcome shocks later. Graphics are powerful. We want to ensure that we wield them wisely.

Another ongoing theme that emerged was the use of technology in conjunction with graphic facilitation methods. One of the Harvest groups did a presentation about that very topic – and shared a rich conversation in the creation of the presentation. Serendipitously, on my arrival home I found a gift had come in the mail – that of a RocketBook – which had immediate and obvious application in terms of graphics and technology. It’s an analogue book that can be drawn/written in—and with an app and a bit of pre-linking, whatever has been put on the page can be uploaded as a .pdf, a .jpg or other file format to the virtual repository of your choice. I’ve been playing a bit with mine, and found it to be quite easy to use – I have been testing the RocketBook Everlast, which uses Frixion pens so that pages can be erased and used over and over again. It is, in effect, an infinite notebook, with each of the images stored on the web/in the cloud in a place of your choosing. Apparently it also has handwriting recognition, but I’ve not tested that feature yet. I think it’s going to become something I take with me as part of my toolkit in the future. (And I haven’t monetized the blog yet – looking at you, Jules)

It was really powerful to listen to each of the River of Life pieces as they were shared at the end. So many of the participants had already found clear direction for how they are going to be taking visuals forward into their facilitation practices and lives. I realized this year that everything that I’d written in my own 2011 River of Life had been accomplished – which motivated to hang some fresh paper on my own wall when I got home, look forward, and start drawing my future, once again.

 

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Rosviz18 Reflection part 1

Lisa Theissen, our social reporter for rosviz18, has a 2 part blog reporting on what happened as well as sharing thoughts on juicy ideas that came up that we didn’t have time to dive into. Here is part 1 of her workshop reflection:

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“I’m always excited to see a new group of people take risks, be vulnerable and learn something new. I an opportunity to do this only a short while ago in Rossland with Michelle Laurie, at RosViz18.

The group, as it often is, is from varying backgrounds, brought together through facilitation work and the interest in taking the work further and deeper.

Our visual introductions were a great way to get started on the wall, trying out new ways of putting things together on the page. Participants got a good grounding in how to use the body to create large lines and circles, and what works in terms of printing and clarity, colour and spacing. Along with shapes, landscapes, faces and people, we talked about lettering and containers for gathering ideas.

Thanks to a spontaneous chart drawing by Maureen, we visually constructed a plan for a small group dinner out at the Flying Steamshovel!

Day Two began with a bang – dancing from page to page, getting a sense of what it is to do some co-drawing. Feedback here was interesting – participants talked about how it felt to write on ‘someone else’s’ page, about looking for the visual theme and continuing it. We talked about different kinds of agendas, about the development and suitability of different ones for different circumstances.

Everyone spent some time going through the materials and looking at different iconography ending off with a quickly paced ICON JAM! It was interesting to see the visual themes that developed around words like ‘technology’ and terms like ‘on-boarding’. Later, when developing templates, one of the big ‘aha’ moments for me was the idea of the tree metaphor not just being looked at from roots to leaves, but also in terms of cross section, of rings. We also practiced the art of facilitation itself, along with some live graphic recording or sketch noting. Those who didn’t have the chance to draw live got this after lunch where everyone recorded a live talk! 

In addition to lots of doing, we also spent time on reflection and learning. The concept of Harvest weaved through the workshop with a dedicated discussion on the afternoon of day 2. Harvest could be personal, to share widely or for specific audiences. It showed again how many ways there are to interpret a workshop like this. Participants created specific and thoughtful take-aways, including a river/path through the journey of our two days together, a technological overview of digital tools for connecting and building – and a literal take-away, cards with key learnings from the days drawn on each. 

Our time concluded with a visual evaluative practice, a way of individually reflecting on the time together, looking at what each of us had hoped for, what we actually experienced and learned, and plans for how we can take it all forward and apply it more in our lives, in our practices as facilitators, and especially on big paper!” 

 

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A video harvest…forever grateful!

rosviz-collageIt’s a challenge to prepare, be the trainer on site and capture what is happening in the room for sharing. Early on, my co-conspirator Nancy White and I found it helpful to have a social reporter. We were fortunate to get insights, blogs and sometimes video interviews (Thanks to Sylvia Currie). For the past two workshops in Rossland, BC, I have had the support of Lisa Theissen, a former workshop participant, a professional graphic recorder, and our amazing ‘social reporter’. This year, Lisa took photos and videos throughout the workshop and also summarized her thoughts in a 2 part blog post to come soon.

For now, check out the collage above and the 1-minute rosviz18 Visual Harvest video!

Thank you Lisa and all the participants this year, and in years past, who have joined in the journey of visual expression.

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Planning meetings? Can visuals help? Learn the basics at our 2018 Graphic Facilitation Workshop

I’m planning a meeting for May where a group of scientists will come together to plan their reporting on five years of study. In their case they have been monitoring glaciers and snow melt. I am tasked with helping bring together the different studies to come under one technical report. The report should help connect the work of everyone together to tell a bigger story (hopefully).

When looking at ways to think and write together, I surfed through the list serve of one of my favourite networks (www.km4dev.org) which is full of people who help bring knowledge beyond the individual. On one thread a variety of awesome tools were listed. These included using kanban boards, ecocycle planning and visual facilitation. Wow!

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While I haven’t used the kanban board specifically as a tool, I have unintentionally done similar processes and I will certainly consider this in planning with the scientists. I have used the ecocycle a fair bit (and love it) though I think its not the best tool for our needs at this meeting. As far as visual facilitation, I will be brainstorming up numerous ways to embed this into our meeting to help us stay on track, communicate as a group, see the bigger picture and have more FUN!

If you are keen to learn more about visual facilitation / graphic facilitation, want to get the most out of your meetings and your planning, consider joining us to learn the basics of the art (no experience necessary) – July 9-10, 2018 in Rossland, BC, Canada.

More details here!

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Great meeting and art? Try Graphic Facilitation

My Ideas - 35

Lovely facilitator drawing by Nancy White, graphic facilitator extraordinaire.

I recently read an article that states, “..a new Drexel University study found that making art can significantly reduce stress-related hormones in your body.” And apparently everyone can benefit! Markers, paper, clay and collage were all used in the study.

How might those who plan and attend meetings make the most of this information? For me, it reinforces that taking time to allow participants to ‘hold the pen’, draw together and be creative is important. This could be in the form an ice breaker but also in how we achieve the concrete tasks of the meeting as well. You don’t need to be an artist to include visual and creative elements to your meetings! There are simple and fun ways to reduce stress, engage the group and create meaning beyond words. I started playing with these tools in 2005 and have been hooked ever since. Why? After reading this study, I think it not only reduces stress for the participants but also for the person leading the group 🙂

If utilizing these types of tools is something you think would be useful in your toolkit, check out a graphic facilitation workshop to gain the skills and confidence to support groups and organizations to make the most of their meetings. I’m offering a workshop July 9-10, 2018 in BC, Canada – please join me!

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Meeting intros…beyond the go around.

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A few weeks ago, I got a request from someone new to facilitation asking about a great way to do introductions at a meeting. I have a lot of icebreakers up my sleeve but I was testing out something new at another meeting and had been given some ideas from an online group too. I wanted to feel it out before replying. After testing out some new things and thinking about the games I was suggested, my advice went back to something tried and true that I find a fabulous way to start a meeting.

One thing I’ve always found fun is a 3 round speed meeting. Its helpful to have a chance to meet the people you are going to be working with for the next few hours / days/etc. upfront. It can be very simple or you can put a spin on it to go deeper into your meeting content. The instructions are something like this:

  • Find someone you don’t know and introduce yourselves.
  • You have 3 minutes for the first round and then I will ring a bell and you have to meet another person (90 seconds each during your intros).
  • Do it 3 times
  • Regroup together, stand in a circle and ask people how that was for them.  Do a go-around or a ‘popcorn’ to get feedback.
  • Remind people that often we sit in meetings and don’t know who is around the room. If they didn’t get to meet everyone, take time during the breaks to continue the introductions.

If you want to go DEEPER or be more focused on the meeting itself, similar to above but:

  • Give them 4 mins per round (2 mins each to share)
  • During the intros, ask them to tell each other what they hope to get out of the meeting.
  • During the debrief, ask for examples of what people said they are hoping to get out of the meeting. Ask people if most people they met had similar expectations or where they different? How were they different? What does that mean for the meeting? Ask if anybody has anything further to add that wasn’t said.

Even though each person will only have done 3 rounds, they will know more and have more depth than a simple go around sharing names and where they work.

In general, I believe the debrief for every session/activity is a key part of the session. “What, So What, Now What” are 3 questions to consider for each session you do. Even the introductions can set the tone for the type of meeting you are going to have.

Good luck!

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Sense making, friend making and glaciers

About a year ago, I was asked if I could help make a traditional scientific symposium (International Glaciology Symposium on High Mountain Asia) into something different. A group of glaciologists from ICIMOD, locally organizing the international scientific symposium, and the IGS scientific steering committee, wanted people to leave saying ‘Wow! That was a great conference!”

How could I resist?

Last month, after a lot of co-designing, back and forth, and many changes up until the last moment…we did it.

Here is a bit of our story. You can also see the tweets and some images at #IGSKTM

The main areas we wanted to focus on were:

1. Sense making. 

Scientists are subjected to powerpoint presentations from morning to night, day after day. Typically there is very little time for questions, if at all. There are no discussions. Thus, participants leave a 5 day meeting possibly having seen 100’s of presentations yet having no time to digest them, let alone understand the bigger picture they might contribute to. We wanted to provide a legacy of learning – i.e. sense making of the content – for participants. They should leave remembering the key trends, patterns and emerging issues in their field of work.

After the daily keynote talk, tables took 5 minutes to create a newspaper headline.

After the daily keynote talk, tables took 5 minutes to create a newspaper headline.

Headline after a keynote in Black Carbon.

Headline from a table discussion after a keynote in Black Carbon.

2. Friend making.

Despite spending 5-6 days at a conference, often far from home, participants are rarely given the opportunity to meet and network. People who know each other typically sit together at the group dinners and traditionally the sessions have people sitting in rows (classroom style or theatre style) which doesn’t lend itself to conversation aside from one or two neighbours. We wanted to ensure that people had ample time to meet and also help those who aren’t great at networking interact with their peers. Participants at this conference would hopefully leave having spoken to many new people, have the opportunity to find others working on similar fields of interest and simply increase their contacts and network professionally.

Participants could pin where they work. The online roster was a place to see who these people actually are!

Participants could pin where they work. The online roster was a place to see who these people actually are!

People loved the poster sessions. We had a scavenger hunt at one to encourage people to find each other!

People loved the poster sessions. We had a scavenger hunt at one to encourage people to find each other!

3. Wow!

Leaving meetings tired and burnt out is not unique to science meetings. This is typical for most meeting goers and we wanted to make this one different. Rather than being tired at the end of the day, we wanted people to feel energized and excited. We strove to include sufficient content, discussion and fun to keep people going over 6 days talking about glaciers.

Here are some of the things we did to help shift a traditional scientific symposium into something people will remember:

  • Less formality
    • TV Talk show format to set the scene for the symposium (as opposed to traditional panel)
    • Seating at round tables to encourage conversing with colleagues and meeting new people (see their faces, as opposed to traditional seating in rows) [people were really shocked when they entered the room]
    • Large scale imagery in the venue to give a sense of the region despite meeting in Kathmandu (we were discussing the highest mountains in the world and we showed them!)
    • Outputs and visuals from discussions posted in coffee break areas so people could congregate around something.
  • Discussion and sense-making by participants for a greater synthesis of information
    • Tables created news headlines after key note talks [they had 5 minutes to discuss the talk, create a headline and this was followed by 10 mins of Q&A]
    • Tables worked on key questions throughout the day (after a set of science talks) that were later compiled and synthesized by session chairs and presented back to participants the following morning. [they had 10 mins after a set of talks to work on their synthesis questions as a table. Chairs created a daily summary to present in 5 minutes the following morning. They were very diligent.]
    • A full synthesis is envisaged as part of a long editorial for the Annals of Glaciology and for further communication purposes. The start was put into a press release distributed by ICIMOD following the event.
    • *Note we had to reduce the number of talks to have time for discussion (this took a lot of convincing) however we still managed to have 46 scientific talks plus 16 open space sessions (mentioned below) and the opening panel.
  • Time for conversations that matter
    • One morning was dedicated to open space, a technique where the participants create an agenda on the spot.
    • Over 100 participants proposed 16 topics which became one hour sessions (eight per parallel session).
    • Important conversations and connections were made. People’s interests and ideas were valued and appreciated.
    • Time taken at the opening session and closing session to personally reflect on what you hope to get out of the symposium and what you learned. Participants were given time to share this with a friend, the table and the room. We used a technique called 1-2-4-all.
    • Field trip midway (this is typical for and IGS and they like it…so we kept it!)
  • Networking onsite and for the future
    • A glaciologist scavenger hunt took place during the first poster session as a way to get people to learn about each other and connect with people they don’t normally talk to.
    • A map was posted where people added where they work so they could see others working in their region.
    • A roster was created where people added their name, contact email and research interests plus a photo. This will be sent out via email to help enable ongoing networking between the scientists.
    • Each day participants were encouraged to sit at new tables with new people to help change their conversations for the synthesis as well as meet new colleagues.

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Half a day was dedicated to  participants creating their own agenda on topics that mattered to them. Small break out sessions ensued.

Half a day was dedicated to participants creating their own agenda on topics that mattered to them. Small break out sessions of engaged people ensued.

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Some areas to consider in the future:

  • Longer poster sessions (in our case to accommodate the larger number of posters received). Perhaps timing the sessions at the end of the day would also make it easier to extend it for those who are interested. We had one at the end of the day however two were after lunch to help reduce the food coma issue. Though in retrospect people really loved the poster sessions and likely would have stayed late to continue their conversations had they all been at the end of the day.
  • Questions from science talks could be re-organized. For example rather than giving 5 mins for questions directly after speakers, let tables speak for 3 minutes after a talk to gather specific questions as a table. Then after a set of talks take 10 minutes of questions. This idea was proposed by a participant who felt the questions were not as well thought out as the synthesis which allowed for discussion before hand.
  • Include options for workshops on science communications. This is an idea being explored for future symposiums. How to make a great poster, give a presentation, get published, interact with the media and policy makers were all topics that emerged in our open space session.
  • Add a few fields to the online registration so a roster can be given out at the start of the symposium to participants to help facilitate networking immediately.

It was a very rewarding experience to work with these scientists. They have so much knowledge and energy. It was nice to be able to set the container to help great conversations happen, to make sense of the immense information presented and to suggest ways for colleagues to continue their contact after the symposium ended. Wow! That was fun!

p.s. an ICIMOD photographer was taking gorgeous photos. I will update the blog if I can get a few his.

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