How many trainers does it take to change a lightbulb?
Actually the question I’m pondering should be “how many minutes do we need to switch on the lightbulb in the minds of those we train?”. Jo wrestled with this question recently as she wrestled with delivering a short workshop. I spent Saturday afternoon delivering another very short workshop for Greenpeace Network Co-ordinators. The topic was dealing with “difficult behaviour” and increasing engagement in meetings though Jo’s 60 minutes makes my 75 minutes seem positively luxurious.
Some (wiser?) facilitators might have politely declined the request. Others might have taken the time to explain the folly of such time limits. A younger me would have set off at breakneck speed to cover as much ground as possible. Nowadays, for me and my Rhizome colleagues, it’s about catalytic interventions. Cumbersome phrase, but one that came up at our first meeting of the expanded Rhizome coop and has reasserted itself many times since. Can we catalyse meaningful change through our work? Big ask in 75 minutes. I wouldn’t dream of suggesting that Saturday’s workshop will lead to sustained change in knowledge, skills and, of course, the attitude of those attending. But it was possible to get the lightbulbs at least flickering if not shining by keeping it simple and going for a little depth over covering breadth. And of course by keeping it as experiential as possible. You can learn a lot from a little doing.
At Greenpeace’s request we spent the last few minutes gleaning top tips from the group to give their peers who were attending other workshops something to work with. The tips also help give me a useful insight into what had been learnt. They reassure me that it was a useful 75 minutes. Of course there’s more to be done, including dialoguing with the client on how to reinforce this work, but its a start:
I was also roped in as a scribe for a workshop on “catching and keeping” people in local action groups. One thing that came across strongly in both sessions was that people don’t evaluate their meetings. Newcomers have no opportunity to say how the meeting worked (or didn’t!) for them. Neither do others who struggled with the meeting for whatever reason and may well have been labelled as a “difficult” person because of their struggle.
Ironically the 75 minute time restraint meant I opted not to formally evaluate my session. Perhaps a bad call (and bad example?). I’m relying on the evaluation of the day as a whole, plus my intuition and observation, and these top tips to guide me in future sessions. Is that enough?
December 4, 2012 @ 12:48 am
Wouldn’t an opportunity to write things down – rather than have to stick up your hand and say “shitty interpersonal dynamics” – be better. i.e. a new ritual that at the end of the meeting people write down their feelings about whether it went well or not, what conflicts need dealing with (not all do!!), how it could go better, and the next team of facilitators can use these. And these could be typed up and circulated perhaps (unless there was stuff that was seriously destructive of morale…). Because we have to do SOMETHING to stop the massive churning of new people in meetings. Ask them whether they were made to feel welcome. If their previous experience – both in life and activism – was acknowledged, harnessed etc, whether they had chances to figure out what was going on… et cetera.