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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Design Element: Learning to Learn

The best environment for learning exists when we realize we are all simultaneously teachers and students. Nothing exists in ordinary life that cannot be improved upon or changed for the better through communal sharing of experience. Therefore the host teacher is merely the facilitator and presenter of the best information available at a certain time on a topic or subject and is only beginning a dialog and a learning that cannot be completed until everyone in the group has had the opportunity to contribute either through questions or comments on the matter at hand. Learning exists best on the edge of failure and doubt not on success and certainty. This holds true for both teacher and student.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Don't do something, just sit there

I personally believe my job as facilitator is to bring out the conversation in others. Once established, my next job is to get out of the way and be supportive, by connecting, encouraging and guiding. Basically, to shut up and help them to get their work done more effectively.

I have witnessed two types of facilitators (though I am sure there are many different types). One pulls the group along, leading and directing. This style, by the way, is appealing to many groups and can be advantageous to certain types of organizations.

The second, takes the energy and recycles it back into the group. The position of facilitator is more of shepherd than leader, by gently nudging participants away from danger and coaxing them forward - to make it easier for them to do THEIR job. This I believe is my job, which is not to be the expert of their work or to do their work, but to allow them to own their efforts and help to make the journey easier.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Design Element: No Rule Book

Occasionally you get someone who offers counsel with only a few words, yet those few words can open a door to knowledge no encyclopedia can fill.

I had a great teacher who coached me on becoming a facilitator and he offered some short insight that has helped me more in the area of facilitation and just about everything else. His words were as follows: "The only rule book you need is the one inside yourself. Once you get in touch with that, all the other rules fall away." And it's true for when I can get in that place, it sets the stage for right thinking and right acting in the moment. Of course, it's not always accessible - stress, frustration, and competing agendas always seem to want to crowd in, but in in establishing a sense of knowing the feeling, thinking and acting that tells you when you are there provides an option that transcends the normal rules and still keeps me in touch with the tools and techniques I need when I need them.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Drilling Down to the Ordinary Level

When I began as a entry level consultant in a large consulting company, I was overwhelmed by the language and models and complexity of consulting. Mega processes, tools and techniques, route maps, entity diagrams and the like left me thinking that I had missed some important learning during my education or somewhere in my life. As I was able to learn more about mapping processes, understanding the nature of MBA educated professionals and our very human need for importance, I began to translate such references in ways that made sense to me. When I began learning graphic communication as a way to facilitate conversations and dialog, I began to find value on bringing out the ordinary from our extraordinary language and use this tool as a bridge for greater understanding with clients.

My First Icon Post

I have decided to dedicate a new blog for posting raw sketches and doodles that form the basis of graphic communication.

This guy above came out one of the many times I have sat with just a clipboard of white, printer paper and doodle until something happens (usually it's that I get interrupted, but on occasion I actually come up with a gem). This character might be used to express urgency, or danger, or nervousness. I take a liking to little personalities that are the simple, everyman, kind of like a Chico Marx character that senses something very innocently yet shows a wisdom and whimsy.