Filofist

Chris’ comment about remembering things by association did strike a chord, but for different reasons and made me think about my filofist.

Filofist for remembering things

Filofist

I like to do what I say I’ll do.

Sometimes I can get caught without my notebook.

I’m quite a visual chap, and tend to remember things I have seen, so writing things down is an important way of making sure I remember things I have promised.

Filofist is my light hearted way of describing writing little notes on my left hand to act as memory joggers.  I wear my watch on my left hand so the chances are I’ll look at it frequently during the day.

I only use this for those few vital things I must do, once done I wash the note away.

It can be misinterpreted though.  I once got complimented on my unusual tattoo

Use sparingly.

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Facilitation tips – Pocket Book

notebook

“How do you remember all our names so quickly?”


A question I get asked a lot in workshops.  I am not blessed with a great memory for names, I have to work hard not to forget.

So, over the years I have developed coping strategies.  One of the most straightforward is my notebook.

I use small Moleskine type pocket books. These are small enough to fit into my trouser or jacket pocket.  They have an elasticated closing band that I use to make sure the book opens at the page I need.

As the audience arrives, I make a note of each person’s name and where they sit.  If I don’t get time to do that as they arrive, then making a note of who sits where as each person introduces themselves is a good backup.

These notebooks are good for capturing content during the day, especially in a fast moving situation where people are presenting and you don’t have a flip chart.

I also photograph each page with my phone.

Evernote picture of my notebook

Evernote picture of my notebook

Then using free apps such as Evernote I can find the things I have written again.

Evernote has an optical character recognition tool that reads my handwriting.

Clever eh?

This is handy if you have to write a report of the workshop afterwards.

Ermine or Vermin?

Every year we host a family Christmas quiz, called Ermine or Vermin.

There are 20-25 of us and it takes a little bit of organising to make it run smoothly and to keep it fun.

This is how we introduce it:

Ermine - The winter coat of the European Stoat and The Grasshopper Mouse of North America

European Stoat and The Grasshopper Mouse

  • The quiz has prizes, Hurrah!
  • There are 4 rounds of questions.
  • Each round someone wins and the group gets a bag of prizes wrapped in christmas paper.
  • Some of the prizes are desirable, some less so, hence the title of the quiz.

So why am I telling you this?

Well, it is the preparation that is key to keeping this light-hearted fun.

The first problem is how to divide up people into different groups.

We solved this one by passing round a tin of chocolates.  There are 4 varieties in the tin.  This year we used Cadbury’s Flake, Crunchie, Caramel and Dairy Milk. Yum.

Then we had the questions.   My friend (thanks Paul) provided these.  This year we had  questions about countries and capital cities, another had a list of dinosaur names, some made up, some real. And so on.

We get the groups to monitor one another for fair play, so that no-one secretly consults Wikipedia.  Peer pressure is a good self regulation mechanism, even in families!

The groups use score sheets we had prepared in advance.  At the end of each round they pass their score sheet to another group to mark.  Then we put the scores from each round on a matrix sheet on one of the doors of the room.

The winning group gets a bag of prizes and open them there and then.  Part of the fun for those who didn’t win is seeing the individual reactions to the rather diverse range of prizes each group gets.  🙂

After the final round, there is an overall winner and the group get the rather dubious pleasure of an extra bag of prizes!

This year everyone came away with at least one prize, and more importantly we’ve also added more fun stories to the family bank of memories.  It is the stories we tell one another that bind us together.

The preparation is the key to making it look effortless and smooth.  You can see how much work goes in to a family quiz, so you might be more aware of the behind-scenes effort that goes into our day job.

More of this in 2014.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, the scores on the doors revealed that the Flake group won this year with 45 points.

Helping a group recognise their behaviours

It’s been busy!  I’m back to resume the blog. I’ve lots to tell you about. So, how about starting with that trickiest of things, personal behaviour.

Getting engagement

As a facilitator there are a number of ways to get people to recognise things they are doing that might get in the way of adding value to the work they do.  Watching situational videos or reading examples are fine but a bit passive.  Discussing case studies gets a bit more engagement however it can be rather abstract.  Playing games is another useful device, but people have seen a lot of these and they do get repetitive.

So we invent our own situations and get people to engage in activities that are novel to them.  This requires more effort from us, but it makes life more interesting too.

A real example

An example of this from our recent work:  We had a group of 30 staff from various locations who were about to start more cooperative working.  Our client asked us for “team building that wasn’t team building” – mmm ok, interesting brief, just the sort of stuff we like to get involved with.  Let’s understand a bit more, together.

Preparation is key

We spent some time talking things over with the client bouncing around a few ideas and together we realised that the root of the problem was that there were very different types of people involved in the organisation.  Some were ‘steady Eddie’ types that could be depended upon all the time.  Others were more ‘high performers’ who were great in a crisis but boy, did they get bored and dysfunctional the rest of the time.

We had a good think about this and set up a workshop to sort out how the new organisation was going to work.  As part of this event we designed a special activity where we divided the room into four groups.  As facilitators, we had the confidence of knowing that no-one had seen this before so it would tax the minds of even the high performers.  In essence each group had a fairly straightforward task to perform however embedded within the task was a much harder one with a greater prize.

Facilitating the task

We set the task going. Immediately, the energy in the room went up. Everyone piled in and we saw the usual tuckman behaviours you’ll all be familiar with.  Then after a while we started to get the behaviours we were looking for, we let it run a bit further.

As you’ll have guessed by now what started to happen was a split in the room.  The ‘steadies’ were still deeply involved in completing the task while the high performers had become bored and were picking up their mobiles checking emails, getting coffee, in fact anything other than the task.

We shouted out: STOP!

That got everyone’s attention.

Facilitating learning

Then we did the facilitator thing we are all good at – getting people to look at what was happening and start to reflect.  We got the re-engagement needed and directed the energy of the group back to analysing themselves.  They began to self-identify the behaviours in the room and relate this to what was actually happening at work.  Deeper learning started.

a bit more…

We drew everyone’s attention to some props in the room that hadn’t been used yet.  Suddenly a realisation spread that there was a task embedded within the task, and a bigger picture emerged.  Both high performers and the steadies quickly came together to solve the problem and to everyone’s satisfaction cracked the larger puzzle. Result!

Later exercises started to draw on this and each of the group members understood that they had a part to play in making the organisation successful.  We increased tolerance of their different ways of working by highlighting the differences and helping them realise for themselves that they needed this diversity.

Have we completely solved all the issues? No.  Have we helped the group come together as a more successful unit?  Yes.

Job done. That’s why we get invited back.

The Milllion Dollar Smartphone

Million Dollar Smartphone

Million Dollar Smartphone

How is a phone worth a million dollars?

The answer is captured in one word:

Presence.

Got your attention?

Good, you are present.

.

.

.I’ve been working with a large manufacturing company recently, helping the senior management teams improve their performance by exploring better ways of working together.

During these sessions an interesting phenomenon emerged.  Some of the top management in the business have become heavy users of smartphones to the extent that they bring them in to meetings. Not a problem you may think.  Not unusual too.

In one particular meeting the lead executive was attending a briefing about managing the product portfolio.  A decision had been made to manage out one of the question mark products (see earlier post ) The lead exec spent the meeting tapping away on his smartphone during the briefing.  A dispiriting experience for the team presenting.

  • Later this same executive led the negotiations to sell the technology to another company.
  • He thought the negotiation had gone rather well
  • It had.
  • It had gone well for the buyer rather than the seller.

The product had been sold for less than its true value and the lead executive’s company had retained the liabilities for product failure after it had been sold.

The cost of this mistake?  you guessed it…..  about a million dollars.

Attending meetings is not just about being there.  It is about being Present.

The hundred million tea break

Coffee break

Valuable work gets done in the breaks when running workshops

I’ve been running a large event kicking off the collective working capability for several parts of a multinational company.

There were people representing 4 organisations each of which had annual turnovers of several hundred million pounds.

I thought I’d share what happened.  We had to think on our feet a lot….

Background

  • Developed the workshop bringing 20 or so people together to develop collective working capability over two days.
  • Spent weeks planning the event
  • Planned down to the minute (we had expected highly structured, task oriented types present)
  • On the day the plan got busted within the first 5 mins when the client asked for something different than I’d been told – ok we fitted that in.
  • Then these tasky, structured types started to get more creative and overran our timings, so we ran with the energy in the room and made space for this.
  • Did more prep in the break re-planning on the fly (this was possible because we’d put all that work in beforehand)
  • The end of the event we got real success achieved everything we set out to.

 So why am I telling you all this?

In the feedback session we asked what had gone really well about the event, where the real value was

The answer – It was the tea breaks where we got the most value

My inner reaction for a microsecond – OH NO!

[for those of you that facilitate you’ll know the mind works in the fast lane where you are stood up there]

Then it suddenly occurred:

  • Yes they were right, the real value was in the unstructured dialogue when people were relaxed
  • But if I’d just brought them together for a tea break :
    • They wouldn’t have come
    • Nothing would have happened
    • So the structure is needed to get things started
    • Then allow space for people to start to feel safe
    • Then allow time for all that relationship building stuff to kick in
    • Stand back and try not to interfere.

 So What?

Learning for me..

  • Build in longer breaks, let people talk
  • Allow space when people in the room get energised
  • Your plans can change
  • It’s the result for the people in the room that matters

The event was such a success we’ve been commissioned to take it to other parts of the organisation.

I’m now busy planning more overseas trips

Funny old world isn’t it.

Using Join.me for virtual facilitation

JoinMe Logo

Join Me Logo

Tim recommended we take a look at Join.me as a facilitation tool.  So we did.

Having played with the free version for a while we have come to the conclusion it is pretty good for getting your message out there.

However, for the sort of physical / virtual meetings we have been playing with, we find it falls short.

What Join.me is good at:

  • Share your desktop with selected others giving each person a unique code.
  • a large number of others can view your desktop (100+)
  • Open a voice over IP channel with those sharing the view of your screen
  • Instant messaging facility for text chat.
  • The capability to transfer the broadcast to others

Clever stuff

What Join.me would be ideal for:

  • Broadcasting your thoughts to an attentive community.
  • Delivering a training session
  • Communicating a presentation or webinar

When we’ve tested Join.me in a group we have found its design tends to suppress two-way dialogue as whoever controls the visuals tends to dominate the group.

Therefore we would see Join.me as a useful tool for giving information rather than promoting true exchange of information between peers.  It is a broadcast tool rather than a dialogue tool.  Provided you understand this, it will work very well for you.