All posts filed under: Participation is the key

Draw your letters like you mean it!

One of my most embarrassing moments as a facilitator has to do with handwriting. I was in front at the workshop, introducing to the participants what we were going to do over the next few days. My co-facilitator, with all good intention and the wisest brain, tried to summarise my introduction in a visual form. It was a great summary with a well-thought content but in terms of handwriting, it was totally unreadable. Although it was not my handwriting, this mortifying episode pierced deeply in my consciousness that I vowed to myself to work on improving my handwriting. This personal pledge even became fierce when I started working with another facilitator who has the most illegible handwriting ever. I always had a good handwriting but I went astray when I started writing everything on the computer. Now, I try to practice writing by hand as much as I can. I try to draw my letters like I mean it! Within a few months, I’ve really seen how much improvement has happened. People have been asking …

Who invented the Name Tags?

My closest colleagues know that I’m not a name tag lover. Of course, I understand the significance of name tags. Our individual names are very important and wearing name tags is another way of presenting ourselves, of silently introducing ourselves, of saying, “I’m here!”. Name tags are also important for facilitators. Facilitators don’t need to remember all the participants’ names by heart. The name tags will do it for the facilitators. I know that a name tag is just a small thing that hangs around the neck. They are either in white, in blue or in another colour. But sometimes they are bigger than the nose and eyes put together. They also present no personality whatsoever. In an event, everyone will be wearing the same name tag. And so I love to draw hearts, to letter my name or to not wear the name tag at all. It’s just NOT so creative! So it was quite a surprise for me when I entered the meeting room of the Creative Facilitation workshop by Partners for Youth …

Visuals as a form of communication?

Many years ago, people were saying that handwriting is going to die soon. And I really believed it as I’ve noticed how my beautiful cursive handwriting was turning into full capital letters. I used to love composing handwritten letters on beautiful papers, then mailing them to the rest of the world. Then I stopped all together. Gone were the days of waiting for the postman, of smelling the scented stationeries, of admiring the stamps on the envelopes. Taking notes was all made on the computer too. Mind you, I can take notes verbatim on my computer. I can’t even recall having a notebook until I feel in love with a stationery covered in red leather that I saw in one shop in Bangkok. The year was 2011 and I knew I was back on. I started writing by hand again. I felt liberated. I felt I was on the right path. But, I was not there yet. At that time, I didn’t even know I was going somewhere. Then slowly, my lined notebooks were replaced …

The perfect structure – a costly obsession

We are mistaken if we imagine there is a perfect structure. Yet so many insist that if only we got the structure right then all would be well. In one organisation I was consulting with, they have changed their structure three times in two years and was about to implement a fourth one! But there is no such thing as the perfect structure. How we choose to divide up work in an organisation will always be full of compromises and challenges. The ways in which organisations behave tend to be deeper than just the structure. So even if we change the structure, the same issues soon resurface, simply in a different place.  This obsession with structure is costly. Every time a new structure is implemented, staff have to shift roles, learn new skills and relate to a different set of people in a different way. This is emotionally and mentally exhausting. It frequently drains vital energy away from the actual mission of the organisation. Organisations who are restructuring often become so inward looking that they …

Star Entertainer

Have you ever come across facilitators who should never have taken on that role? I recently posed this question to an experienced colleague. Without a second thought, she described to me ‘facilitators’ who would never stop talking. She recalled facilitators who were excited to get up in front, but more to perform than anything else. She told me about facilitators who look for praise and popularity, who love to hear their own voice. She spoke about the dangers of being a star entertainer. As facilitators in any process whether in organisational assessment, strategic planning or during a conflict mediation, our task is to create an environment that encourages active contribution and free sharing of views, impressions and convictions from all participants. We have to acknowledge that the participants have wisdom and experience. We should equally value the perspectives and opinions of all participants, allowing them to be authentic and to behave according to their values. How do we create such an environment? I’ve learned to be mindful of the fact that the participants have to …

Facilitating with patience

I was observing a training in a province in Cambodia. It was a very hot day as Cambodia was approaching the hottest season. During the lunch break, the participants laid on the tiled floor of the training room. It was a refreshing break, away from the sun, with the air-conditioning cooling the air. When the time came for the training to continue, the participants sat in a circle. In the middle of the circle, the child of one of the participants was still asleep covered in a red blanket. Nobody minded. We went on with the training. When the facilitator started talking, the girl who was asleep on the floor in the middle of the room woke up and started crying. Then something happened that I did not expect at all. When the child started making noise, the facilitator did not tell the mother to go and take the child away. He did not say, the child was disturbing the training. But instead he said simply, “Oh, I think I was talking too loud.” The …