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The WorkshopBank Podcast
35 minutes | Mar 13, 2013
WSB 005 : How To Use Dialogue Mapping To Drive Workshops With Paul Culmsee
In Session 5 of The WorkshopBank Podcast, I’m talking to Paul Culmsee who is one of only four fully qualified dialogue mappers in the world. He’s on the show to show me how Dialogue Mapping works and what it can do for you and your delegates. You’ll learn when to use it and when not to. You’ll learn how the process works and what the benefits are that participants experience when they’re being mapped. Enjoy [leadplayer_vid id=”513EF397D8E40″] And here’s a live demo of Paul and I solving one of the worlds most talked about wicked problems… [leadplayer_vid id=”513EF493F1621″] In this podcast session you’ll learn: Learn from one of only four Dialogue Mappers in the world what Dialogue Mapping is and what it can do for you and your delegates Learn when to use Dialogue Mapping and when not to (hint: it looks like a MindMap but it’s also completely different according to Paul!) Learn how their is no setup or training that the participants have to go through when they’re in a Dialogue Mapping session Learn how all participants feel like they’re being heard when being Dialogue Mapped Hear Paul talk through an amazing case study when he used Dialogue Mapping for the first time in anger Hear how you don’t need to be an expert in the subject being discussed (much like Dynamic Facilitation) Links mentioned in this podcast: WorkshopBank Podcast Session 2 with Alex Nairn talking about how Dynamic Facilitation works in practice Paul’s Blog – CleverWorkarounds.com Open Source software Paul uses to Dialogue Map – Compendium download Compendium Software on Wikipedia Jeff Conklin at the CogNexus Institute Wicked Problems on Wikipedia Thanks very much Paul, for coming on the show. I really enjoyed our chat and loved the Lord of the Rings demo. It would be amazing to do something like this with a larger group at some point. The next session of The WorkshopBank Podcast will be coming very soon where I’m heading to Canada (virtually not physically) to talk with a Knowledge Management expert. You’re not going to want to miss it. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast below to get it automatically to your computer or device when it’s available. Thanks and all the best! Click here to subscribe via iTunes Click here to listen on Stitcher The post WSB 005 : How To Use Dialogue Mapping To Drive Workshops With Paul Culmsee appeared first on WorkshopBank - Helping You Create High Performing Teams.
46 minutes | Dec 4, 2012
WSB 004 : How You Can Use Dynamic Facilitation To Save The World With Jim Rough
In Session 4 of The WorkshopBank Podcast, I’m talking to Jim Rough who is the founder and originator of a technique called Dynamic Facilitation that we also explored in Session 2. He’s on the show to tell me the origin story of DF and how he believes that DF is the answer to all of the worlds seemingly impossible problems. And you know what? I think he’s right. I’m such a sucker for ‘change-the-world’ stories and so if you’re like me in this respect you’re going to love this Podcast. [leadplayer_vid id=”50BCEB8BC5EC8″] In this podcast session you’ll learn: The unplugged origin story of the genesis of Dynamic Facilitation over the last 25 years How Jim’s used Dynamic Facilitation to solve seemingly impossible and insurmountable real-life issues in both the workplace and in local government Hear an incredible case study from Austria where 12 randomly chosen members of the public unlocked a long standing, often bitter at times, local issue for the where all parties are happy How DF could / should be used by President Obama and across the EU to solve the current financial crisis How you can get involved in the Dynamic Facilitation movement right now Links mentioned in this podcast include: WorkshopBank Podcast Session 2 with Alex Nairn talking about how Dynamic Facilitation works in practice Osborn Parnes Process (aka Creative Problem Solving Process) on Wikipedia Synectics problem solving methodology on Wikipedia Quality Circles on Wikipedia What is the Wisdom Council Jim’s calendar of seminars & events DynamicFacilitation.com WiseDemocracy.org non-profit Thank you so much, Jim, for coming on the show and being so generous with your time and knowledge here on WorkshopBank! Get ready for the next session of The WorkshopBank Podcast coming very soon with something a little bit special. Here’s a hint. There are only 4 people in the world who are qualified to do this particular process. You’re not going to want to miss it. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast below to get it automatically to your computer or device when it’s available. Thanks and all the best! Click here to subscribe via iTunes Click here to listen on Stitcher Raw Transcript WorkshopBank’s audio transcription is done by Speechpad Nick: So, welcome, everyone, to the WorkshopBank Podcast. I’m very excited today because I’m joined by an absolute legend in the facilitation world. His name’s Jim Rough, and he is the godfather of Dynamic Facilitation. Some of you may have seen Session Two, that I did with Alex Nairn, a few weeks back. Alex took us through the process of dynamic facilitation. Here with us today, we have the person who came up with the concept, who’s going to tell us the origin story of dynamic facilitation from over 25 years ago. He now travels around the world, teaching DF to his own community of followers. Certainly from my experience, they are passionate bunch, Jim’s followers, because since Alex’s interview, I’ve had a number of them reach out to me and say “hello,” and say what a great conversation that was. So, welcome and hi to them, I’m glad you’re with us. So, hi, Jim, nice to meet you, and welcome to WorkshopBank. Jim: Nice to meet you, Nick. Nick: Fantastic. Okay. So, I want to look at two or three things in this podcast, if that’s all right, Jim. I want to hear your origin story, hear where it all started, and I want to delve into one case study with you. What are your best case studies? You must have done quite a few now, in the last 25 years. But, I want to hear one, now, that’s had a major impact. Not only on the people that were participants, but also on you, I guess. It would be great to hear a bit of that side of the story, as well. The people who listen to WorkshopBank want to hear stuff that’s actionable, and they want stuff that makes it real for them. So, as many real life case study scenarios as we can possibly get, we want. We learn so much better from real life case studies. So, tell me please, where did DF, Dynamic Facilitation, come from, and how did you get into it, and when did it become a thing for you? Because it was probably just something you were doing for a while, and then you realized it was an actual thing, a living being that was taking over your whole life. So, I’m really excited to hear about that. Jim: Well, that’s exactly right. I was a consultant, an employee of a timber company, Simpson timber company, and I was also studying Jungian psychology, in my private time, obviously. And, I was also fascinated about the issue of creativity, and I was on the faculty of the Creative Problem Solving Institute. The task was. . . I was trying to get a Quality Circles group going in the middle, and management said, “No, no, no, we don’t want that. We don’t like. . . We want you to meet with those people, make them feel better, but we don’t want you to spend any money on training, and we don’t want you to spend any money on. . . We don’t want to be there. We don’t want the foreman there. But, we’ll pay the men to show up.” So, what happened was the management of this mill. . . I accepted it, because I thought that I wanted to focus on creativity. I wanted them to solve impossible-to-solve problems. I mean, if creativity exists, then presumably, we can solve impossible-to-solve problems. So, I wanted to pursue that, and I really didn’t get it at the time, but management had given me the opportunity to have a laboratory, with real people walking in the door. I got to try out different processes, to see if I could get it to work. I found that it didn’t work, that all this stuff that I had been learning about brainstorming, and I thought the Osborn-Parnes technology, and the Synectics, and different creative thinking strategies. . . They didn’t apply to real problems, not the kinds of problems these guys had, which were, “I hate the foreman, I hate my life, I want out of here, how do I make things work?” That kind of issue. Nick: Right. So, it’s a fairly large-scale issue. Jim: Yeah. So, I asked them to pick some impossible-to-solve issues to work on, and at the beginning they would choose issues like, “Let’s fire the foreman. If we could fire that guy, my life would be better.” I say great, let’s work on that. . . Which is not the kind of issue a Quality Circle program would choose. But, it was their issue, and they were angry, and they wanted action. So, I thought, well, fine, let’s work on that. In the process, I wanted to help them be creative in solving it. So, I just did whatever it took to help engender a creative spirit around this task. They would eventually come to this realization, as they would talk, they would come up with data, for instance. I would write down, oh, that’s a piece of data. And, the data would be, “Gee, he’s not a bad guy, when I run into him away from the mill, in a bar or something.” So, that would be a piece of data, and I’d realize as I’d write it down that people would shift. Now, all of a sudden, they would have these insights that, “I’m not so interested in firing him anymore. The real problem is the whole mill. The whole management system.” What would happen, and maybe we’re getting into the case study as it turns out, I wasn’t thinking about that. But, what would happen is that the problem would get bigger, but their feeling of empowerment would get stronger. They would shift from “firing the foreman seems do-able, but changing the management system of the mill seems bigger, seems more impossible.” And yet, they would be more excited, and more empowered, to go do that. Nick: So, all positive as well? Would their general emotional state be feeling better that they’d got that position, or. . . Jim: Yes, more excited about it, and more connected with one another, and people would go, “Yeah, that’s it.” So, it was an odd progression. The problem would get bigger, and worse, so to speak, but their excitement and sense of empowerment would get even more. . . I remember, they would test, they would also work on issues at the same time. They would work on “Why is lumber getting ruined at this machine center,” or something like that. They would have breakthroughs around that, too. They would have marvelous breakthroughs to fix that. In time, what would happen is that the . . . Just by the way they were working, coming up with insights, they were changing the management system of the mill. So, they were tracking both of these, that they were solving impossible-to-solve problems in the mill, and they were changing the big one, which was solving the management problem. All of a sudden, now the employees would be managing their own equipment, and the foreman would not have to do all this work, and they would go do something else. Nick: So, was the foreman involved in the process as well? Did the management come in at all? Jim: What happened at the first was that the foreman missed the first year. When it finally became time to involve them, I asked them. It’s a time to get involved. Both of them . . . There was a moment of tears, actually. When they realized how they just didn’t realize these people could be like this. They were upset at themselves, and at the situation. When it came time to join the group, both the night shift foreman and the day shift foreman got sick. Neither had ever been sick before, and they wanted to be a part of the group, but they were afraid, I think. I don’t know. They were really sick, but it was the only time they were sick, and they were both sick. I think it was a powerful time of transition, when they did join the group, and became full participants in the process. So, the original problem was to fire the foremen, and what happened is there was a transformation in the foremen, there was a transformation of the system. Along the way, they were solving lots of impossible-to-solve problems, where I would tease them. I would say, they would say, there’s nothing you can do about it, we have to hire another employee, that’s the only thing you can do. Then I would tease them, and we’d just start working on it. They would have a mind shift of thinking creatively. All of a sudden, they would say, “Oh, let’s go look at it.” Everybody would jump up, and we’d run downstairs, and look at how the machine was hanging up or something. All of a sudden, new ideas would start popping. Then you’d point to them later, “Remember these charts I wrote down, where you said it was impossible to solve this? Well, notice that you’ve solved it.” It was a lot of fun, really. Jim: So, you weren’t just back sitting in a room with them, you were. . . Now I’ve got this picture of a group of people running around, from one problem area to another. Was it. . . Jim: Well, I’d be sitting in the room, and I would have the flip chart. They would say something, and I would write it on the flip chart, and reflect it back to them. What happened over time was, that the group would feel, they would start to see opportunities. I was basically protecting people, because they wanted to criticize them, one another, they’d criticize themselves, they wanted to be angry at their situation. My role was to accept everything they were saying, but to keep everyone safe. So that, when someone would say, “That was the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, how could you possibly think that,” I would grab that person and say well, tell me what your concern is, and then I would come back to the other person and ask them what they had just said. In other words, nobody got to pick on anybody. It was always a puzzle that we were working on. Nick: You would always make sure that the conversation would go through you, rather than themselves attacking each other. Jim: Yes. Not always, but if it ever became delicate, yes. They would have lots of . . . What they did was they transformed the mill, the management system of the mill. Which is really what they started out wanting to do . . . Nick: So, management complete bulletin. How long was that process, from start to transformation? Jim: A year and a half. The foremen became involved, and it took about a year and a half, and people just realized, “Hey, we’re working in a different place.” We would have different problems that would come up, that were really. . . One that’s coming to mind now is, we had. . . These were big logs, and we had this crane that operated this monster log, that would place it in position for another machine. These guys would sit in their little glass booths. These two guys hated one another, basically. So they would operate these monster log equipment, and I finally brought them in the room together, and we were working on the problem of maintenance, that we need another maintenance guy, that was it. They knew it was impossible to hire another maintenance guy. The more we got talking, and thinking, and sharing . . . I didn’t know these guys didn’t like each other. I later got told by the foremen, but basically what they would do, is they would realize that . . . I forgot, I just remembered. I asked them, what was the number one problem that they had? So we worked it through, and it was this piece of equipment that would get hung up. We worked it through, and what they were able to do was cut out a little piece of metal, so that it no longer hung up at all. It wasn’t like, we didn’t have to clean up anything. It turned out that these guys started double dating. They liked each other. The level of maintenance required was way down, the level of clean-up was way down, the level . . . Everything they touched. The heavens would part, and blue sky would come out, and it would just be like . . . Nick: A beautiful saying. Jim: So these guys were really liking one another. One time I remember, I was using some normal creative stuff, and I said, what are you thinking about? They said, “Oh, I’m thinking about this date I’ve got.” I said, well, what about it? The guy starts talking about how he wants to make love with this gal. I said, well tell me more about making love. What’s involved? Let’s take this machine center we’ve got here, and let’s make love to it. What do we need to do? It’s more than the other stuff . . . Oh, it was a riot. They were laughing so hard, and they were coming up with “we need better lubricants, we need more foreplay.” It was just a joy. What they did is they did change lubricants, and then at a different procedure that they used to make this thing happen, they developed a new relationship with the union handling complaints about it. Nick: Wow. Jim: It was just. . . You’ve got me talking about something different than true DF. I teach Dynamic Facilitation, I don’t get into some of the traditional creative stuff, but it provides a perfect umbrella for departing into brainstorming, or departing into playing in these ways. Nick: Getting wherever you need to go. So, after this experience, when did you start thinking that this was something you needed to now package up, and turn into a movement, which is what it is now? Jim: A long time, really. What happened is that I would start seminars, and say in the seminars, well look, let’s practice this skill. I mean, this is a procedure that I’ve learned, just a different way of facilitating. I thought it was regular facilitation, when I started. In time, I discovered it was really different than traditional facilitation. My wife and I moved, and I started teaching seminars, and this process, and I realized, hey. This is something people should know about. But, I just thought it was facilitation. I called it Participative Leadership Facilitation, whatever. But, as a way of practicing [inaudible 00:17:32] choose issues that society cared about. Just like the mill workers walking in and picking something impossible, I’d say, well, you pick something impossible, and we’ll get creative, and see if we don’t make progress on it. They would make progress on these big monster issues. It was really out of the progress from those issues that I began to get it, that I can’t talk about the regular facilitation. If you want to do this . . . You must have a good facilitator. Somebody can’t be a master facilitator and do this. They have to learn something different. Often, in fact, some of the people that were known as master facilitators would come to the seminar, and we’d have beginners. And, the beginners would have a lot easier time picking up on Dynamic Facilitation than the credentialed master facilitators. I think you build up. . . All of a sudden you’re realizing, this is just not the same thing. It’s something different. Nick: Yeah. It’s just something that you’d learned over time. So, it wasn’t something that you felt like you’d gone through a course or a seminar and picked stuff, it just evolved inside you. Jim: Yeah. And I had these seminars, and I’d teach seminars now for 20, more than 20 years, and I’m with really bright people. We’re working on real issues. How often does that happen, when really, really bright people come together in a room and pick some issue, like global warming, inner city crime, or traffic, or whatever, and make headway in a brilliant way? People are looking at one another, excited. My God, we’ve come up with something. That something has narrowed down, too. Now I’m working headlong on something I call the “Wisdom Council,” which is really just tipping in cities in central Europe. Nick: Yeah, it’s . . . Tell me about the Wisdom Council. How is that different from the process, or is it the same, with just a different direction? Jim: One of the ways I think about it is, DF works great for a small group. You’re helping a small group. How do we make that happen for a large system, a very large system? Really, that’s what happened in the mill. When you changed the management system of the mill, even though I was working with this one day shift and night shift small group, somehow the whole mill changed system. So, in a sense, I was facilitating a very large system of people, although in practice I was only DF-ing one small group on day, and one small group on night. Really, the whole mill got involved, but they were involved anyway. It’s kind of what’s happening in cities, really, in Austria in particular, and cities of western Austria especially. We randomly select 12 citizens, and they meet for a day and a half with a Dynamic Facilitator. In the process, people work on what they might think is impossible to solve. They won’t really solve it, but they’ll come up with a unified perspective that everybody’s excited about. It turns out, when they present that perspective to an assembled community, at a town meeting, everybody talks about it, and then we realized, gee, the whole room kind of feels the same way. We’re all on the same page. Nick: So, you get consensus, just by having a sample size of 12. Jim: We don’t call it a “consensus,” we call it “co-sensus.” It’s really different. This is one of the problems, that in Dynamic Facilitation, all the words that have meaning, like “dialogue” or “consensus” or “decision,” all these words, we just don’t use anymore. They really send us in the wrong direction. A decision, for instance, is something that happens . . . It means to cut away. It’s something that happens in my left brain, it’s a judgment. What we’re doing, is we’re doing a creative process. We almost don’t have any judgment, here. Certainly people, and of ideas, we have limited judgment. We’re constantly in a creating mode, a co-creative mode, and we [inaudible 00:22:52] that we saw often, and notice that we’re all on the same page, we all know what to do. That’s like a decision, but we didn’t get there using any of the same mental processing. We got there through a totally different way of thinking. Nick: Tell me about some example that’s happening in Austria, that’s maybe is going on, or has gone through the process, and they’ve created something amazing. Jim: They’ve created something amazing, and it’s spreading, thank God, because in my mind this is how we’re going to solve the world problems and become sustainable as a society. We’re all of us somehow in one conversation, and we’re addressing these impossible seeming problems, and we’re reaching near-unity about what to do about them. So, that is win-win. That is the solution in my mind, the strategy for solving these global problems that we’re facing, and it’s becoming really important, to me, to realize that if we use words like “decision,” we use words like “consensus,” we use words like. . . Some of these words, they’re not the same. We need to keep the process pure, in order to be able to do that. What they’re doing in Austria is that they have . . . Many cities have tried this, randomly selecting people, having them meet a day and a half, having them present in large town meetings, and it’s a way we can bypass the partisan gridlock. It’s a way for the legislators to feel connected with the mainstream citizens, and not just the usual people that show up and get mad at the public meetings. It’s a way to educate the citizens about the issues. They’ve done it, and maybe an example, my favorite example, is in Bregenz, the westernmost city of Austria. It’s right on lake Constance. That city is very close to the lake, except there’s a highway and a railroad track that goes between it and the park and the lake. There’s a development right in the heart of- or there’s a parking lot right in the heart of Bregenz that should be a development, that developers want to develop. But, they haven’t, [inaudible 00:25:44], because the conflicts get so bad. So, they selected the 12 citizens, and they looked at what the development project was, and they came up with the unanimous perspective about how to change it, to make it work. Basically, they said, “This is a one-in-a-hundred year opportunity for us as a community, to come into relationship with the lake, and that’s what we want. We have this highway and this train between us and the lake, and we want to be connected. This project should be a process of helping us connect to the lake. One way to do that would be to have the project be more on the second floor, and have us be able to spill over onto the lake, like with a Spanish stairs or something.” Basically, the developers, and everybody else in the room, said, “Yeah, that’s great, let’s do that.” It’s just, I asked them the big conflict situation that everybody anticipated, and it’s beginning construction this spring. Nick: Wow, that’s amazing. So, the developers are using some of the land to develop whatever they want to do to make money commercially, and they’re giving some to the community at the same time? Or are the developers just doing whatever the community wants? Jim: The community is basically saying, “here is the way this project should work.” The developers are saying, “hey, that’s even better than what we thought.” The mayor’s happy, and everybody’s happy. So, if I was President Obama right now, struggling with this partisan gridlock, break it. Nick: He should get you involved. Has he not called? Jim: I’d love for him to know about this. I’ve contacted all my elective representatives, and written him, and faxed him and stuff. To me, that’s a way to resolve a lot of these problems that we’re facing. It’s a way for the EU to deal with some of this banking mess that’s going on right now in Spain, in Italy, and Greece. Nick: Yeah. And, it’s only going to get worse, especially in the economic crisis. The relationship between the public and the legislature just gets worse and worse and worse, doesn’t it. Jim: It’s not only about . . . Yeah, it’s the relationship between the elected officials and the public, but it’s also a relationship between the system and the public. You see, what we’ve done is we’ve structured a system that is in charge of us. It’s a really goofy way to go. We can’t, we have people who want to teach schools, we have kids who want to be taught, we’re all together. We have a system that says, “Oh no, we can’t do that, because we have a budget crisis.” So, how do we jump into the kind of thinking process where we are in charge? Where we, the people, come together, and say, “Oh, let’s set up a system that actually works,” rather than be subjects of this system? That’s the kind of break-through that is possible, if we enter into the space of what I call “choice creating,” which is what Dynamic Facilitation elicits. Nick: So, why Austria, number one, and why not more? Why. . . I was talking to Alex in session two, and he saying that he’s found it really difficult to get government officials in the UK to say “yes” to Dynamic Facilitation. What’s the. . . And, that is possibly one of the reasons why you’re finding it hard to get to President Obama. Although, if you’re watching, Obama, you should be . . . Jim’s contact details are below this podcast, you can get hold of him through that link. I know you’re on LinkedIn, so . . . Yeah, so why Austria, and why not the world? Jim: Well, it will be the world. I don’t see a way other, yet. Maybe there’s other answers out there. But, here’s an actual answer. Part of your question is, why is it that people are so anxious about the environmental crisis, and the debt crisis, and whatever? Here’s a guy saying there’s a solution. Why is it that they turn and run? Really, it’s . . . Why is it that those people can leave the seminar so excited? Everybody leaves the seminar with their arms outstretched, ecstatic. How is it possible to get reabsorbed into the Borg, if you will? I don’t know if you know that expression. Nick: Yeah, I do, yeah. Jim: But, to me, that’s exactly what it is. It’s kind of like there’s a quality of thinking that we all know, that happens in a crisis often. Where somehow, we can pull together, be creative, and change everything. We know that quality of thinking, and it exists. I’ve given it a name, I call it “choice creating.” It’s different than decision making. It’s a quality of thinking where we break our walls of denial. We’re safe in our walls of denial, we have this denial that we live in, we say, “Okay, I can’t do this. I can do this, but I can’t do that. I have. . . There are certain things that are possible, there are certain things that are not.” We have, and we live in this, and it gives us a serenity. There’s even a serenity prayer, which is to me a way of setting up a wall of denial, that keeps me serene and calm. But, I know what I can do, I know what I can’t do. . . It’s sort of like a denial of the creative possibility that’s in me. People, when they come into touch with that creative possibility, it’s scary. It’s scary. It’s not normal, in a way. Nick: Because they feel like they’re losing control of their reason for being? Or . . . Jim: Well, I don’t know about that. I think it’s that we’re really not in control, period. I mean, we really aren’t. But, there’s this kind of man- made, or human-made, concept that life can be controlled. So, we set up situations where we can actually do that. But, they aren’t very long lasting. . . Nick: Or, at least, have a shot at doing that. Jim: A shot at doing that, yeah. . . Nick: I don’t think anyone actually does it, do they. Jim: Well, we can go to the moon and come back, and it worked. But. . . Nick: Yeah. We’re not going to do it again, though. Jim: So, there’s a quality of thinking in us, where we drop the denial, and we just see a certain. . . We have access to our potential, and we surprise our self with our potential. It’s dangerous, too, because it’s traumatic. I mean, when there’s a crisis like that, it can be traumatic. I don’t have the answers on this, but those are hints in my mind about what’s happening. What could explain that we are collectively terminal? And yet, we’re happy to stay in this space of denial and continue to pursue economic growth as though this could go on forever. At some point, there’s a waking up to . . . There’s a reaching the crisis plate, and then we wake up, or we can begin the wake-up process through a facilitation. That’s what . . . I think Dynamic Facilitation offers that capability, and the Wisdom Council offers it at a large group, a large system, in a large system way. Nick: And, is the wisdom council only happening in Austria? Is it a body, or is it a company, or what is it? Jim: We have some people in Austria, in particular [Origgle] and Rita Trattnigg and a few others, that get it. They are paid a salary, and they are incredibly respected people. And, what about the Austria experience, is that . . . I just attended a conference in Austria, sponsored by the government, on the topic of ending this dependence on growth, economic growth. You can’t mention that in the US. You can’t even mention that, and it was sponsored by the government. The fact that they don’t have to have a defense industry . . . They don’t do that, and they’ve accepted their shadow in a way that the rest of the world hasn’t. They know that there’s evil out there, and that they have participated, and they’re basically saying, “Hey, let’s do something better.” I think the German-speaking lands are going to be the leading element in the future, here. They’re pioneering, I mean they’re taking the ideas that I came up with on other people, that I know, that are pioneers. And, they’re listening. They’re working with it. Nick: Has it spread across the border into Germany? Jim: Yes. Yeah, Germany too, has had a number of Wisdom Councils, and seems to be . . . In fact, in Switzerland, too, it’s beginning. I think . . . There’s a great talk that [Manford] gave in Sweden, and I know that there’s going to be a group from Asia that’s coming to take a look. I just feel really optimistic that this is. . . Nick: Saving the world’s great, but I would just really like Skype to work consistently. That would be really nice. Jim: I appreciate your curiosity, though. That’s really nice. Nick: I think it’s a really interesting solution to some massive problems. You’re right, we absolutely do need solutions to one of the biggest problems that we’ve faced, in a long, long time. This isn’t . . . These recessions that the world is going through, they’re not just going to suddenly go away. They’re going to be around for a long, long time. Way longer than the life of this podcast. So, we need to solve them. Jim: The way I think about it is it could end tomorrow. It could end tomorrow, because what we’re doing it we’re just holding on to an existing system, and this system is terminal, and it’s really about people with resources, with desires, with needs, with shared needs coming together. That’s really what an economic system is supposed to be. What our current economic system is doing, is it’s preventing that coming together. It’s set up as though we don’t have collective needs. That we can compete. It’s based on competition. I believe what’s going to happen eventually, and maybe sooner rather than later, is we’re all going to look at one another and say, “Hey, our economic system isn’t working, to give us what we need, and we need to do something else.” Just in saying that, just in thinking that, we’ve created a new economic system. As soon as we start collectively thinking what we need, that and working toward it, that is an economic system. But, that thinking process is prevented in our current system. Nick: Yeah. So, Jim, how do people get involved? How can listeners reach you and meet you, and come to your seminars? What’s your schedule like in the coming months? Jim: Well, we’re going to be going back to Europe. I guess we’re teaching a seminar in Northern California, and then we’re going to Northern Europe again. We’re going to Southern Europe again. Wherever it is . . . Central Europe. Nick: Central Europe, yeah. Jim: Austria, Switzerland, and Germany. And, we have a seminar scheduled in the UK. But, the website is. . . There’s two websites. One is www.DynamicFacilitation.com, and the other is www.WiseDemocracy.org. The Wise Democracy is our non-profit organization, and it’s about how to really set in motion a new system of democracy, really. As far as I can tell, it’s really working, and it’s going to happen. We need people like you, that kind of get it, and get involved. Part of getting it, I think, is to come to the seminar. It’s a three-day seminar, and a four-day seminar sometimes, when people come back. Then there’s an understanding about choice creating, and an understanding of the principles of Dynamic Facilitation, and you can start practicing and bringing it forward. Then, hopefully, there’s an understanding about the wisdom council, and how we can come together as a society, how we can come together as communities. Nick: Then, do you personally support, whenever you can, if a large company, or a large body, or a government, wants the man himself, the godfather, to be involved? You’re available to . . . Jim: Absolutely. Absolutely, yeah. I haven’t figured out how to earn . . . I know how to earn a living, if my focus is on serving corporations. I don’t know how to earn a living if my focus is on saving the world. There’s nobody in our system that’s willing to pay for that. It’s an odd system. So, what we do is we charge, really, for the seminar, and then don’t. . . Try and just give everything, most everything, away. That’s kind of the way it seems to work out. Then, for people that can’t afford it, we work out something else for them to come too. Nick: Well, that’s great. I’ll make sure all those links are below this video, below this podcast, so people can get hold of you and reach out to you. Is LinkedIn the best place to get you, or through your websites? Jim: No, it almost took me about 15 minutes to figure out how to read your e-mail message. Nick: Okay. Don’t contact Jim through LinkedIn. Jim: I should. . . Probably just e-mail, I think. Nick: Okay. And, what’s your e-mail address? Jim: Well, one is firstname.lastname@example.org, and another is email@example.com. Nick: Okay. Fantastic. Well, Jim, thank you so much for your time, and I’m really glad we managed to get through this, and I’m glad Skype let us get through this, and I’m really glad that we worked out the time difference between us as well. All the best, and maybe we can do a catch-up again at some point in the future, and see what’s been happening in the time between now and then. That would be great. Nick: Yeah, that’d be great, good. All right. Nice to meet you, Nick. Sponsors I mentioned To be confirmed The post WSB 004 : How You Can Use Dynamic Facilitation To Save The World With Jim Rough appeared first on WorkshopBank - Helping You Create High Performing Teams.
30 minutes | Nov 21, 2012
WSB 003 : How To Design Events That Get Amazing Participant Feedback
In this session of The WorkshopBank Podcast, I interview Adrian Segar who is on the show to talk about how to design events using a method that he created called ‘Participant Driven Events’. He’s quite literally written the book on this and flies all around the world helping others implement what he advocates. Participants and organizers alike that have tried this never want to go back to traditional keynote style conferences again. The proof is in the testimonials. “The beauty of the event process is that in every event I’ve ever done (and I’ve done a lot in 30 years) the group discovers a few things that the organizers had absolutely no idea that other people were interested in.” If you’re watching the video below then keep an eye out for a special surprise guest at around the two thirds mark and how I very professionally dealt with the intruder. [leadplayer_vid id=”50ACD7C376664″] In this podcast session you’ll learn: How Participant Driven Events are about putting the power of the agenda into the hands of the participants What the 3 core phases of a Participant Driven Event are What the 3 killer questions participants should be asked at the start to kick the event off What Adrian’s 6 Ground Rules are that are essential the participants agree on at the start to set the tone for the rest of the event Two tools called The Solution Room and The Human Spectrogram Links mentioned in this podcast include: Adrian’s book – Conferences That Work Adrian on LinkedIn Adrian’s company – Conferences That Work Adrian’s 5 Ground Rules he uses at Conferences That Work The Solution Room The Human Spectrogram (and others) Adrian’s 6 blog posts about facilitating change Thank you so much, Adrian, for sharing your process on how to design events with us here on WorkshopBank! Get ready for the next session of The WorkshopBank Podcast coming very soon with a legend in the field of facilitation. In fact, I called him a ‘Godfather’ at one point. You’re not going to want to miss it. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast below to get it automatically to your computer or device when it’s available. Thanks and all the best! Click here to subscribe via iTunes Click here to listen on Stitcher Raw Transcript WorkshopBank’s audio transcription is done by Speechpad Nick: So, hello, welcome. I’m joined today with, by Adrian Segar. Adrian’s based in Marlboro Vermont, I think that’s right. And you have more than 30 years experience planning, organizing facilitating conferences. You have your own company, that they’ve been doing this for over 30 years, called Conferences That Work. In 2011 he was named as one of the 68 most innovated event professionals by BizBash Magazine and one of the top 10 event professionals worth knowing on social media by the National Conference Center. He’s written a book on participant driven events and we’ll talk about what participant driven events means a little bit later in the podcast, which is published in November 2009 and you’ve got another book coming out in 2013, I believe. Adrian: I do. Nick: Which is very exciting. So, I’ll definitely want to talk about that and see what the different between your first book and your coming book is. So, welcome Adrian. Thank you very much for joining us on WorkshopBank and… Adrian: Thanks. Nick: …thanks for making the time. Adrian: Thanks [inaudible 00:01:08] Nick. Nick: No, it’s an absolute pleasure . So, participant driven events, tell me about what it means. I’ve got a, I mean, I’ve got a vague understanding of what that might mean but I don’t know exactly what it is in your definition. Adrian: Well, they’re events that while they’re happening, the events turn into what the people who come to them want them to be. So, in other words, the events are designed and take shape, what you might consider the traditional conference program is created at the event through a process where people, first of all, get to know each other, they get to know why they’re there, what they want to have happen at the event if they can make it anything they want it to be and they also learn about each other’s expertise and experience. And then, these events are, typically, my version of Conferences That Work. Match was skills, the resources in the group with the things that people want to talk about. Nick: Okay. So, you do very little planning up front of what the event’s going to look like. Adrian: Absolutely, I mean, in a pewit you can, with longer events, I mean, I work on 3 or 4 day events like this and typically something that’s that long you’ll leave into that traditional element. You might have a keynote speaker, you may have 3 or 4 major predetermined sessions, just like any conference, but most of the time and interestingly, in most of the evaluations and thousands of people have been to these things over the years. I’ve been creating those for about 20 years. Most of the evaluations really, the most positive evaluations are usually about what I call the peer sessions. The sessions are created through this process during the event and people love those because they created them themselves and they were on topics that they wanted to talk about. Nick: Okay, and what are, what’s a typical peer session? Can you give me an example? Adrian: Well, a peer session can be about anything that the group, the group, the beauty of the process is that it works with any group of people with a common interest. So, I have been asked to do these for such a wide variety of groups. This year, I mean, a few months ago, I did one for independent garden centers in the United States. Next month I’m doing ones for people who train a bank personnel in the United States. IT non profit, I did a conference earlier this year on diversity issues for the state of Vermont. I mean, any group of people who have a common interest can use this process and zone and they can discover what they have in common. And the beauty of the process is, I mean, I’ve been doing this for a long time, is that in every event that I’ve ever done, people discover, the group discovers through things that no one, that the organizers had no idea other people were interested in. Nick: Yes. Adrian: Very often you discover that someone in the audience who has tremendous expertise or experience that really useful to other people, that no one knew about and the process uncovers that very early on and people say, “Oh, you know about that? I really want to hear about that.” And the next thing you know, that person is running a session about it. Nick: Oh wow, oh wow. So, literally, the participants run the sessions. That part of the . . . Adrian: They do, they do. And the beauty of it is, is because, again, it’s not, no one is expecting a formal presentation. How could you when you just discovered that you were going to run a session on something that it turns out, that you know about that other people were interested in? It’s a very formal process. Most of the sessions are relatively small. In a group discussions you might have a panel, if they’re 2 or 3 people who, actually, have some expertise or you might have one person leading something or describing their experience and the whole process ensures that what’s of most interest is what happens. Nick: Okay. Adrian: But there’s always surprises. That’s one of the reasons I love doing this thing is that you never know what’s going to happen. Nick: And that’s probably one of the reasons why participants love it so much as well because no one likes a boring predictable conference. Surprises are where it’s at. So, could you just skim over and summarize the process that you use with a conference? Adrian: I’ll try. Though, again, I always say to people the only way to really understand how it works is to experience it. Nick: Sure. Adrian: But, very simply, there’s, sort of, opening, the heart of the session and the closing. The opening has two parts. One is, the first part is called a round table where groups of up to 50, 60 people answer something I call the 3 questions and each person has some time to, is given time to think about their answers to these questions and then 1 or 2 minutes, answers them to the entire group of 50, 60 people. And the questions are, for which there are no wrong answers, are, how did I get here? In other words, why did I come to this event? Which people can talk about anyway they like. What would I like to have happen? If this conference is wonderful for me, what could happen at it? You can be very specific, I want to learn about this or I have this particular issue that I really want to work with. And the third question is, what expertise and experience do I have that other people here might be interested in? In an hour or two, again the time frame depends on the time frame of the whole event, typically, at least, they have to be at least a day and a half to use this kind of process. But within an hour or 2 you know a huge amount about 50 or 60 people in your group. And themes for the event have become obvious and so forth. The next this that happens is a session, something called, what I call peer session sign up and it’s a two-part process where people, first, suggest sessions that they might want to have happen and then there’s a sign up process where you find up who’s interested in particular sessions and also you discover people who might be interested in leading or facilitating those sessions. And then there’s a process that a small group goes through that takes that and turns everything that’s happened so far into a conference schedule that looks somewhat like a traditional conference schedule except that it’s optimized for the group, for the whole group. And then, the middle of the event, you round out that program. So, that’s like a traditional conference. You, actually, do all that. And then I have two closing sessions. One is called a personal introspective, which is an opportunity for people to actually think about what has happened, what they’ve learned during the event and what they might want to change in their professional usually life as a result, as a way of giving, honoring people and giving them the time to actually think about that and making it more likely that those ideas you’ve come up with or those resolutions you’ve made will actually occur. And the final session is what I call a group perspective and that’s a session where everyone comes together and it’s a way of thinking about the event, the future of the event and the group. Do we want to run this event again? Nick: Yes. Adrian: Often, there are initiatives that come out of the conference. People, a group of people say, “It would be really cool if we did,” X, Y, and Z, in future, some of us, and the final, so the group perspective is not an opportunity, a facilitated opportunity for everybody to talk about those things from a group perspective, as apposed to a personal interest perspective from the previous session. That’s the outline. Nick: Okay. So, the organizers of the conference are very much not taking the front of the stage role. They aren’t the ones that are controlling every element of output from the stage down in down towards the audience. They just, literally, stand back and let it happen. Did I . . . Adrian: Right, you need, yes, you need to facilitate what I’ve just described. Nick: Okay. Adrian: My book that came out three years ago that you mentioned in conferences that work, creating events that people love, describes in detail how to do that. And the third part of the book is, kind of, incredibly detailed step by step process about how you facilitate this event with. And one of the things I’m sort of proud of is that people buy that book and people are using this process all over the world now. I keep hearing, every week I hear about people who are running events using the model and they often, I didn’t even know they were running them because the book apparently is clear enough and detailed enough for people to actually take it and . . . Nick: Just doing it. Adrian: . . . and do it. And so, I’m proud of that. The second part of the book is also, about how you prepare for one of these events and quite a few, and it’s starting to be adopted in event planning by event planning staff and universities because I’ve been told it’s a very useful compendium of information for anyone running a conference, even if you’re running a professional event. Nick: Sure. Adrian: So, there’s a lot great information about budgeting and marketing and so forth for small events there. Nick: But am I right in thinking you’re seeing more and more, this is a growing area, right? So, more and more people are designing conferences in this way because of the great feedback that they’re getting. Adrian: Well, I think, yes, I think that there’s that, that the most common evaluation comment that I get is you’ve kind of spoiled me for traditional events. I don’t want to go to the traditional events again. I want to go at this pacing that I want to do. So, it’s growing in that way. But the other reason why I think the meeting industry and I’ve been promoting these approaches to the traditional meeting industry for the last couple of years, NPI and allot of the other meeting associations is because I think face to face events that we’ve had for hundreds of years now have been radically affected in ways that I think the traditional meeting industry often is not aware of yet because of the rise of online. I mean, when you can see, and this wasn’t true eight years ago, eight years ago Facebook didn’t exist. YouTube didn’t exist, TEDx didn’t exist. Nick: Yes. Adrian: You can get amazing content, video content, you can see a speaker online at your convenience. The whole the traditional rational of conferences being a place where you go for content is . . . Nick: Is changing. Adrian: . . . is changing and people aren’t going to go to face events for content so much anymore. They’re going to go if the connections, the networking, the sharing about things that are relevant and the opportunity to get their specific questions answered Nick: Yes. Adrian: And participant-led events are fantastic for that. One thing I should mention that I do, which I think is really important, though it’s not for everyone, is that I use ground rules at the start of my events about confidentiality. And as a result a lot of the discussion is often about pretty intimate stuff that you never talk about . . . Nick: Outside. Adrian: . . . outside or you, and you would certainly never talk about if the event was being streamed or you were concerned that your boss might hear about it and so forth. Nick: Yes. Adrian: But it’s a wonderful opportunity when you’re with you’re peers, the people who also do what you do, know some of the problems that you have in common to actually share some often quite intimate things in a safe environment and that’s another, sort of, feature of my particular model. Not every participant-led model uses that, uses that . . . Nick: Great. And how do you go about . . . what process do you use to set the ground rules at the beginning? Do you have a favorite? Adrian: Well, I have, for Conferences That Work, I have a set . . . if you’re doing facilitation work with a group over a long period of time, it’s best to actually let the group to figure out its own ground rules. But at Conferences That Work, we don’t really have time to do that. I have set of six that I offer to people and basically say, here they are, this is the rational for them. They’re called the four freedoms and there are a couple of other rules about, one is about confidentiality and the other is about really mundane but important, staying on time. I ask everyone to agree to them at the event and they do. I mean, it’s really remarkable how you can create a very safe environment in a short amount of time using some explicit ground rules. I’ve written about this on my blog. Nick: Yes. When you get to the point when you get that agreement, do you feel a big change in the room, in the atmosphere? Adrian: It’s very interesting. I [inaudible 00:14:56], I mean, for the first 10 years I did these events, I didn’t have those ground rules and people, but people moved that way. And I still had these intimate . . . there were intimate conversations, but once you make them explicit, I think I’ve noticed that people are more willing to talk about . . I mean, it’s completely up to each individuals comfort level. Nick: Of course. Adrian: You don’t have to talk about anything. Nick: Yes, it’s not an interrogation. Adrian: No, it’s not. It’s certainly not. But you’d be amazed what people will do and talk to, often to a whole group about, that they would never do at a traditional event. Because they feel safe, they’ve decided that they feel safe about talking in this way. And I think that’s very, very important to anybody in an industry that . . . I’ve heard this so many times. I mean, I know for example, I’ve talked to numerous doctors that meet with small groups of other doctors every few months and I’ve heard this said multiple times and they say, “We have these meetings and we talk about things because there are things that only doctors would really can talk to other doctors about. And I, kind of, give people that opportunity if they want to take advantage of it at my conferences as well. Nick: Yes. Adrian: And I think it’s important and I feel good about doing it. Nick: Yes, definitely, definitely. I’d really like to dive into one other topic that we’d talked about before that we started this call, I think you call it the solution room. Adrian: Yes. Nick: And then come on to your book next year that you’re releasing next year and hear what that’s all about. So, how’s does the solution room work and where does it normally fit in in the process? Adrian: I like to run the solution room at the start of an event but you can run it at the end of an event. My preference is to run it at the beginning. And what it is, and again, this is not a . . . this is, sort of, participant-led but it’s something you can use in a traditional conference and it’s becoming very popular. It was only invented a year and a half ago. Actually, a meeting Professional International European NPI Conference in early 2011 and what it essentially is, is an opportunity for everyone to get peer consulting about an issue that they identify, that they choose for themselves from their peers. Again, in a sort of safe, relatively safe, if you feel safe, confidential environment. It’s a very, very simple technique and I don’t think any of us who have been working creating this feel that it’s something that didn’t exist before, but to actually, I think, use it in a conference session . . . I just ran it, for example, at the NPI Chapter Business Summit in Dallas a couple of months ago in September for 250 people is, I think, new. These kinds of exercises are usually done in executive retreats and so on with smaller groups. But this thing scales very nicely. I don’t actually see it. If you have a large enough room you can run it for 1,000 or 2,000 people if you wanted to. And the core of it is a process where people, 6 or 8 people sit at a round table and everyone who’s come up with, or previously come up with a personal problem they would like help with, would they appear. So, it can be any kind of, can be something very specific, it could be . . . it’s interesting again, often the problem is that people will only talk about our people problems, I would say, I mean, it depends on the industry. But maybe, often, it’s not uncommon for that half the problems to be issues on working with staff or bosses and so on, or organizational culture and so on. Or the could be completely technical issues about, I’m choosing a new system, I need a new computer system to do this. Can you give me any advice? People can choose the problems. And what happens is, essentially, every one at the table gets the same amount of time to explain their problem and then you get consulting advice from the other people at that table, and then we move onto the next person. So, everybody provides a peer consulting and gets consulting from the group. And it’s a very, very, very, a very, very popular and successful format. And that’s bracketed with a couple of, I use this technically human spectrograms technique, this is body voting, to actually, first of all, show how much expertise there is in the room. A lot of people, the concept of peer consulting is kind of new to them. You can point out in this room with 250 people in Dallas that there were 3000 years of meeting experience in that room. Nick: Wow. Adrian: I mean, that’s a huge. When you point, when you show that to people, people say, “Well, I can probably get some help here.” Nick: Yeah, because you’re going to do something with that. Adrian: So, there’s some of that and then there’s some bracketing at the end, there’s some spectrograms about peoples comfort levels. So, people can talk about can demonstrate how comfortable they feel with the process before and that’s compared with how comfortable they feel afterwards and people see, in general, that had a very good experience and so forth. But that’s the essence of the solution. Nick: What’s a spectrogram? Sorry. Adrian: A human spectrogram, it’s called a body voting or… Nick: [inaudible 00:20:44] Adrian: . . . the human graph and it’s a very simple way and it’s one of the techniques I talk about in my next book, of voting, low tech, no tech voting. But it can be used in, actually, lots of different ways and what it is, is you have a clear space in the room where there’s no furniture and you have people line up between the two walls in that space, your each end of the room, and one wall, for example, with the experience spectrogram, you might say, “If you just entered the industry go and stand by this wall over here.” And then I want to arrange yourselves by the number of years you’ve been in the industry. And you say, “You’ll need to talk to each other.” So, people just, everyone get’s up and they arrange themselves, “Oh, 18 years. Oh, you’re 17. I should stand here.” And so forth. And, so you have a visual, this is just one way of doing it. You get a visual, everyone can see what the distribution of years of experience in the industry is, very quickly. You can do that in a few minutes and then you can do things like, well, the median is here and there’s 250 people here and the median is 11 years so we have 3000 years of experience in the room. Things like that. And then you can do all kinds of other things with it too, which I can tell you about if you want to know. Nick: Yeah, definitely. Adrian: And people are going to [inaudible 00:22:05] it comes out. Nick: I loved it, that would be great. So, tell me a little bit about your book coming out next year. So, how does it differ from your previous one and what are you looking to target in it? Adrian: Well, who I’m targeting is anybody who runs a conference because unlike the first book, which is where you have to buy into the idea, this sort of radical idea that participant-led conferences actually might be a wonderful thing but people, your attendees, might actually like to go to. This is a compendium of participative process, which will improve any conference sessions, in my experience. And the book is, it’s a two-parter. The first part is, why, if you participate and your learning, your learning is much better. So, in other words, if you want to learn, if you’re going to spend all this time and money coming together to meet other people and do what you do face to face, how do we learn best. Nick: Yes. Adrian: And we’ve known a long time now that sitting and listening to someone talking is a [very cold] of learning stuff. But if you participate in your learning your retention is better, you’ll retain it more actively, you’ll retain what you learn for longer, and also you have the opportunity to make your learning relevant to you. So it’s sort of just in time learning. Nick: Yes. Adrian: It’s the kind of learning you, it’s like, I can determine what I’m learning here and I’m going to learn what’s important to me. So, when you have . . . the first part of the book, which is probably fairly short because it’s . . . Nick: Sorry, here is my, here is what I . . . Adrian: Here is your horrible 2 year old. Nick: It is my 2 year old here, exactly. She’ll come and join us. Adrian: So, the first part of the book is the rational for participatory learning and the second part is a compendium of many different techniques you can use for participatory learning and they’re grouped into, sort of, a opening techniques about connecting with people, learning about people, guiding what’s going to happen at an event. Techniques you use at any time for discussions, for voting, I have a whole chapter on different ways of voting, which don’t use, sort of, clickers and gizmos and so forth, public voting and then a closing techniques, like the personal interest introspect and groups perspective and many others, as well. I talk about the use to close effects. Nick: Okay. So, there’s lots of actionable stuff in there as well. There are loads of tools. Adrian: Yes. Nick: Tools that just didn’t make it into the first book or tools that are completely new that you came up with? Adrian: Well, again, I don’t think, there are a few of those tools I have invented and I have my spin on a lot of them, but I’d say most of these things and some of these tools have been around for a long time. Nick: Yes. Adrian: But they haven’t been widely used. I mean . . . Nick: Yeah, I think, or used in this context, which is the most important thing. Adrian: Or used in this context. Yes, exactly. The concept, the idea is to bring these all together in one place so that people will want to say, you get a whole set of tools and in a consistent format. So, I mean, each chapter, about each tool, it talks about it, it describes it, then it says this is when you should use it, then there’s a section on the resources you need to get ready, and then there’s this is how you do it in painful detail or appropriate detail. Nick: Fantastic. It sounds like a very similar format to the way we write up tools for WorkshopBank, actually. So, it makes a lot of sense. Well, Adrian, thank you very much and I think before my daughter writes too much on my desk I’m going to bring this chapter to a close. But thank you very much and . . . Adrian: Can I just let people know about the new website where you can read all about this stuff. Nick: Of course, and I’ll include all the links, as well. But yeah, please, go for it, for the people listening. Adrian: It’s simply, ConferencesThatWork, all one word, ConferensesThatWork.Com. Nick: Okay. Adrian: And that’s where I hang out. I have a blog there with hundreds of posts about all different kinds of things, I mean, but events related and participation techniques related and so forth. And there’s details from my book there. Nick: And if we put contact details on the podcast, you’ll be quite happy to have people reach out to you etc. Adrian: Absolutely. Nick: Fantastic. Adrian: I love to talk to people about this stuff, as you can probably tell. Nick: Yes, I’m married. Well it’s a fascinating approach and it leans very heavily on change management, doesn’t it? I mean, involving people in solution as early as possible in the process will guarantee your success. It’s exactly the same kind of approach but just using a totally different area of work and I think it’s great. I mean, what you’re doing is excellent and all kudos to you. Adrian: It actually, I should just mention that I have, I think I have six blog posts about facilitating change on that, that are sort of an occasional series about issues about facilitating change. So I’m certainly interested in change management myself. Nick: Well, fantastic. I’ll make sure link to those as well in the podcast. Well Adrian, thank you very much for joining me and I know I caught you on a bit on the hot this morning but I’m appreciate you making the time and I’m sorry we got interrupted a little bit at the end but I think the essence of the conversation got across. So, thank you. Adrian: I had fun. It’s great to meet you Nick and I appreciate the interview. Nick: Excellent. Cheers, Adrian. Adrian: Cheers. Bye, bye. Sponsors I mentioned To be confirmed The post WSB 003 : How To Design Events That Get Amazing Participant Feedback appeared first on WorkshopBank - Helping You Create High Performing Teams.
35 minutes | Nov 13, 2012
WSB 002 : How To Use Dynamic Facilitation To Solve Big Problems In Under An Hour With Four Flip-charts and a Pen
In this session of The WorkshopBank Podcast, I chat with experienced independent coach and facilitator Alex Nairn who teaches me all about Dynamic Facilitation – a flexible facilitation “choice creation” technique invented by American consultant Jim Rough that can be used to unlock seemingly impossible issues. “Dynamic Facilitation produces a brand new answer that nobody could’ve possibly thought of before they walked into the room. Nobody.” Alex has used Dynamic Facilitation with teams that have been stuck on a particularly nasty issue for over 8 weeks where he’s solved it in 45 minutes. Quick apology. Sorry about some the sound dropping out. Skype wasn’t having a great day for us but if you don’t understand Alex when you can hear him that’s because he’s from Arbroath, Scotland. Nothing I can do about that I’m afraid! [leadplayer_vid id=”50A152741A2CE”] In this podcast session you will learn: Why you should never try Dynamic Facilitation with groups that don’t care passionately about the problem that you’re tasked with solving Why Dynamic Facilitation is best used to solve impossible challenges rather than fairly straightforward ones What the worst things you can do as a Dynamic Facilitator How Dynamic Facilitation often discovers things that nobody came into the room with When not to use Dynamic Facilitation Why you should never explain the DF process before doing it How to best close out a Dynamic Facilitation session Jim Rough’s origin story of how Dynamic Facilitation was invented Which country in Europe has taken this technique on in a big way to help getting the voice of the community Links mentioned in this podcast include: Alex Nairn on LinkedIn Dynamic Facilitation Associates – The Home of Dynamic Facilitation A 6 minute video of the first international DF gathering in Austria last February (parts are in German) The Co-Intelligence Institute’s one pager on Dynamic Facilitation Rosa Zubizarreta’s Resources Page on Dynamic Facilitation Thank you so much, Alex, for sharing your skills and knowledge with us here on WorkshopBank! Get ready for the next session of The WorkshopBank Podcast coming very soon. You’re not going to want to miss it. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast below to get it automatically to your computer or device when it’s available. Thanks and all the best to you! Click here to subscribe via iTunes Click here to listen on Stitcher Raw Transcript WorkshopBank’s audio transcription is done by Speechpad Nick: I’m really excited today because I’m joined by a very, I was going to say a very old friend of mine, you’re not necessarily very old but you’re a friend of mine that I’ve known for a very long time. We used to work together, basically working for the British government. That’s how I describe it these days. When we were on a program to remodel the education sector in the UK between, what was it, 2004 to 2009 I was there. So you were probably there a couple of years before that. His name is Alex Nairn. He’s a guy I really deeply respect. You were leader of one of the programs or I think the only program we had running when I first arrived. And you only ever when higher and higher up in the organization after that. And every time I was in one of your sessions, it was just fascinating. You basically led me into the world of change management with all the support I could possibly imagine. And you’re definitely one of the reasons that I am doing workshop [bank] today and that I still love and enjoy being a change management professional and facilitator so, welcome to the show, Alex. Alex: Thank you very much. That was one hell of an introduction. Nick: It was. Well, I try and pick my guests as much as I possibly can so, no, but welcome. So, we’re going to have a conversation about a topic that I know is close to your heart. I mean, if you’re still talking about dynamic facilitation now, then I know it’s very close to your heart because you were big into it in the last year or so that we were working together. Now our audience may not have a clue what dynamic facilitation is so could you give us a brief overview of how it works, where it came from, how to use it, the objectives of it? I’m really interested to relearn all of this. Alex: Okay. Well if I can give you the kind of, headline of it first of all. Nick: Yeah. Alex: I’ll tell you what I like about it and then I’ll tell you how it works. It doesn’t require any preparation by the facilitator what-so-ever. You don’t need to have any content knowledge at all. All you need is 4 flip chart easels, a lot of paper, white tack, blue tack, whatever, marker pens, about 12 to 15 people that are passionate about a challenge they’ve got, and that last point is crucial. Don’t ever do a facilitation in the room that don’t care about the issue. Because you’re about to create a very dynamic interaction between the group that will create something knew just by them all talking about it. And clearly if you’ve got passive people in the room, it doesn’t work. So you’ve got all this, flip chart stuff, you’ve got 15 people that are sitting in a semi-circle in front of the 4 easels and off you go. Now dynamic facilitation is not about finding the best idea that came into the room and filtering down all the others. Okay? Dynamic facilitation is about taking impossible challenges and finding brand new answers to them that the group creates because of their interaction, because of the time that they have together and because of the process they’re involved in. Let me say, first of all, that dynamic facilitation, I’m not saying it’s better than every kind of facilitation, it should be used for every situation because it shouldn’t. Every kind of facilitation has its place. The kind of facilitation that dynamic facilitation isn’t, is let’s brainstorm 100 ideas, let’s stick dots on a lot of pieces of paper, let’s count the one with most dots and let’s disregard the 97 other ideas that are on the board and then we’ll just concentrate on the 3 that are left. What the hell happened to the other 97? That can be such a put off for delegates if they’ve written something on a clip chart which immediately nobody puts a dot on because nobody gives a damn about. And that’s not a great way to engage a group in problem-solving. So what you do with dynamic facilitation, I’ll tell you where it came from later on but, for the moment, what you do with dynamic facilitation is, you have 4 flip charts and, as I say, these 12 to 15 people in a semi-circle in front of them. The facilitator stands, with a pen, at the flip charts and the flip charts are labeled “Problem Statement”, “Solutions”, “Concerns”, and “Data’ or “Facts”. Okay? What’s wonderful about dynamic facilitation is, you never hear facilitators say to someone, not time for solutions yet, we’ll get to solutions later. Nick: Yeah. Yeah. Alex: But that’s not what we’re covering today. We’ll keep that aside for another meeting or whatever. Whatever the people in that group want to say is captured by the facilitator and captured onto the flip chart as either the problem statement, the solution, the concerns and negativity, as some people would view it, or the data and facts. That way, everything that’s said in the room is captured and respected as a piece of information. The way you would start it, a dynamic facilitation session, is with the problem statement. What is the problem, you as a group, are committed to solving here today and you all want to solve it, otherwise you shouldn’t be in the group. And it takes awhile to articulate the perfectly because you will have a different way of framing the problem. So you need to get the group to position where they’re happy to run with one version. But that doesn’t take very long because once again, because of the way the DF works, their versions can come into play. So you would start with a problem statement and then you would immediately you would ask or the person that came up with the final version of the problem statement, you’d ask them, what’s your solution. Nick: Okay. You literally jump straight to solution from the problem. Alex: You capture solutions but there are people who will have concerns about that solution. Nick: Yeah. Yeah. Alex: You [inaudible 00:07:07] that concern and capture that concern but it doesn’t make that solution wrong. Nick: No. Alex: And that’s the thing. Whenever I’ve done DF, the thing that [inaudible 00:07:17] conflict that we normally have in these meetings. Because normally, in facilitation environments, you often get two ideas and one of them wins. Nick: Yeah. Alex: And that means the other one loses. And that means we don’t [inaudible 00:07:33] the one for the rest of the bloody meeting. Nick: Yeah, exactly. You’ve lost that person now. Alex: [inaudible 00:07:40] as somebody else. In a dynamic facilitation environment, your opinion, my opinion, your solution, my solution, my concern, your concern, my facts, your facts are all equal. And all captured because they add up to an understanding of the issue. Nick: Okay. Alex: And it [inaudible 00:08:00] what sequence they come in. As you can imagine, the facilitator is working quite hard. Nick: Yeah. Alex: Because you spend a lot of time writing stuff on to flip charts and you’re not necessarily writing exactly what they say. You’re pulling from them what do they mean by what they say [inaudible 00:08:17]. Nick: Okay. So there’s an element of interpretation there that the facilitator has to take on board. Alex: They should confirm with the person who said it. It’s not one these things where you say I think I know what you mean so I’ll write it down differently. You have to make sure. Tell me what you’re saying when you say that. What do you mean when you say that? And that’s what I capture as the interpretation. So we’re getting deeper. And the other thing you never allow in facilitation is 2 delegates to go head-to-head. Nick: Okay. Alex: That would a win-lose situation. Nick: So the conversation is always by the facilitator, is it? Alex: It always comes through the facilitator. And before you know it, you’re starting to get a free-flowing conversation where people can say what they like, what they don’t like, what they know, what they don’t know and the other thing that happens is the problem statement changes. Nick: Okay. Alex: Because, at some point, you will always say, I’ll tell you what the real problem is. And then you’ve got yourself a new problem statement and then you’re back to, what’s the solution for this new problem. Nick: What happens if the whole group says, no, rubbish, the old problem statement is the right one? Do you have to keep going? Alex: You just keep going because one problem statement doesn’t necessarily outweigh the other one. It just becomes another piece of information that deserves some attention. Nick: Yeah. Alex: If you find yourself going back to the old problem statement, so be it. Nick: Yeah. Alex: But, the thing is, that what you’re doing is, you’re purging the room. Nick: Yeah. Alex. Purging the room of all the information they walked into the room with. Nick: Yeah. Alex: You’re getting it down and you’re treating it with respect. And then there’s a point always in a dynamic facilitation where the room goes quiet and, as a facilitator, you’re terrified. Nick: Yeah. That’s not [inaudible 00:10:13] Alex: And that’s a good thing because that means that they have actually purged themselves or they’re now deeply thinking about it. The worst thing a facilitator can do at that moment is fill the gap. Nick: Right. Alex: You stand there and you let them think about it. And if you panic and say well can we stay focused on the answer, it’ll be like, whoa, you’re back the way you started, where you shouldn’t have started from. So you just stay quiet and then suddenly someone will say, “I’ll tell you what I’ve been thinking,” or “what about this, do you think this would be a good idea.” And off you go again. But there is a process that you bring in the middle of DF that you can do once or twice. And it’s called a bookmark. Nick: Okay. How does that work? Alex: What you do is, you simply flip over a blank sheet of paper, a flip sheet of paper and can we just summarize where we are now and where we came from and what’s happened along the way. And just by doing that process on that flip chart, you bring the group together. Nick: Okay. Alex: The flip charts suddenly come together and [suddenly] create [inaudible 00:11:27] to actually do right on the flip chart, you’ve really hit the jackpot because now they’ve owned. Nick: Of course. Alex: They’d all like to find who [inaudible 00:11:36]. Nick: See, you’d only do that for the big bookmarking, to bring the audience up? Alex: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, the rest of the time, you’re managing the environment and making sure everybody is heard, everybody’s respected, there’s no conflict, everything’s captured, all that kind of stuff. So, effectively, if I had to summarize this, it’s a conversation that’s recorded, and because it gets deeper and deeper and deeper and more exploratory, things begin to appear in the room that nobody came in with. Nick: Right. Alex: That’s the secret of DF. It’s not about somebody, it’s about, I mean the guy who invented it called Jim [inaudible 00:12:22] Nick: Sorry you just dropped out there and that’s quite important. Alex: He called it choice creating. Nick: And what’s the guy’s name? Alex: Jim Rough. Nick: Jim Rough. Alex: He call it choice creating because what the room is doing is creating new choices. Because of its conversation, new things will emerge. Nick: Okay. Alex: I’ll tell you an example of a DF session that I actually did in an environment that you and I worked in. And it was when I was doing some training on DF. We started off with the problem statement; how can we better chips in the canteen? And that was quite serious. Nick: I hope that was with our senior managers. Alex: It was indeed. How can we get better chips in the canteen? And when they came up with that, I thought, oh, this is going to be a disaster. It wasn’t. It was far from a disaster because it was something we all felt passionate about. And do you know how it ended up? It ended up where the problem statement is; how can we make the restaurant more customer responsive. Nick: Wow. Alex: And if we’d actually started and stayed on a facilitation process about how to get better chips. Nick: Yeah, we would’ve ended up with better chips and that’s it. Alex: We would have ended up with better chips, maybe. Or we’d have just gone [inaudible 00:13:50] how to, or who’s going to go talk to the chef or should we give him a cookbook for Christmas, you know? That’s what a funny answer would’ve been. But actually we opened it up to a bigger issue that [inaudible 00:14:02] chips [inaudible 00:14:04] nobody, they could tell anybody. Now why couldn’t they tell anybody? Well because they weren’t customer responsive. Okay. What can we do about that? Nick: Yeah. So how did it take to get from chips to responsive? Alex: 20 minutes. I mean, I have run DF with people that have [inaudible 00:14:22] meeting so I had to solve an issue and we solved it in three quarters of an hour. Nick: Wow. Alex: Steak and eggs. Because they were stuck in this narrow channel with this narrow question. Nick: Yeah. Alex: When they explored the question, they got deeper into it and discovered they’re actually probably trying to answer their own question or there was another way of looking at it, whatever. Nick: Right. Okay. So it’s almost like a root cause analysis technique, right? Alex: It may be a root cause analysis and that may be where it goes, but it’s more than that because it generates an answer. Nick: Yeah, of course. Alex: It’s not, let’s just find out what the issue is, it produces a brand new answer that nobody could’ve possibly thought of when they walked into the room. Nobody. Because you’re working with 15 brains or 12 brains coming together as 1 through the bookmarks, through the process. Nick: How does the audience normally feel at the end of a process like that? Alex: Well, they become very energetic because they can see themselves going somewhere. It starts off [inaudible 00:15:33] you start the DF session, it’s a bit like a conversation in a pub. Nick: Yeah. Alex: Everybody just says what they want to say. Nick: Yeah. Alex: And the facilitators just capture it. And whatever you want to say is fine. That’s what you want to say. If you care about the issue and you’ve got something to say, it’s captured. Nick: Yeah. Alex: In any sequence you like. It’s not about some, let’s talk about this issue, it’s nothing like that at all. It’s whatever is on your mind right now is what you need to say and we need to hear it. And of course that allows people to be themselves. If I’m the kind of person who wants to go straight to the solution, I’ll go straight to the solution. If I’m the kind of person who wants to say it’s never going to work, I’ll fill the concerns page for you in five seconds. Nick: Yeah. Alex: If I’m the kind of person that needs to have the facts before the rest of the room can make decisions, I will give you all the facts and they will be captured. You know? So everybody’s allowed to be themselves. Nick: I think that’s fantastic. I mean, if you run strict facilitation process where you have a tool where you’re starting at position A but you always get to position B because the tool drives you in that direction. If you’re doing that with a group, there’s always two or three people who want to rebel against the process because they just don’t agree with the process. It’s not that they don’t agree with the problem or even the solution at the end. They just don’t like the process. It sounds like with this, you wouldn’t necessarily get that problem. Alex: Well, I mean, the bottom line is, DF isn’t a process. Nick: No, that’s right. Yeah. Alex: Flipcharts that listen to people. And it’s not a process. And what happens is that people find their own way through there by being listened to and respected. Nick: Yeah. Yeah. Alex: And [inaudible 00:17:32] safely. I mean, I’ve had people come up to me, board members have come up to me and said that’s the first time I’ve been listened to in a board meeting. Nick: Wow. Alex: And the thing was, they weren’t even listened to. It was me that listened to them. Nick: Yeah, because everyone else is thinking about their own thing. What they want to say. So no one’s actually listening to anyone. Alex: And respond to what was said. So there’s a group listening but the important thing is the facilitator’s listening and capturing. And, of course, I can then ask questions from [inaudible 00:18:05] which means it really has been listened to. Nick: Yeah. So when would DF not work? I’m in. I would want to use this on everything. What’s the reason that you wouldn’t want to use DF? Alex: That’s a really good question. You wouldn’t use it if you didn’t have four flip charts. That’s not entirely true actually. I’ve seen people trying to do it just by sticking things on the wall. The wall was just tearing off flip charts and sticking them on the wall and starting again with a new sheet, you know? Nick: Yeah. Alex: But I’d never try to do it without four flip charts because you’re moving at such a pace you need to be efficient. When would I not use it? I wouldn’t use it, well, I’ve done DF with 25 people in the room and I know I didn’t get to 25 people. Nick: Yeah. Alex: I tried but I didn’t. Nick: So size of group matters in this, doesn’t it? Alex: [inaudible 00:19:06] contribute and the rest [inaudible 00:19:07] occasionally but they were never really there. And at the end of it, I don’t believe we got a group, I don’t think whole group believed in what the problem was or cared that it was solved. So I would use it with people who are apathetic. I would use it in a group that was too big. I wouldn’t use it for something that it clearly wasn’t needed for. I know that sounds a bit vague. They have to be big problems. Nick: Right. Alex: Really big problems that people really care about. And they can not see a way through it. This is great for multi-agency work. Nick: Right. Alex: Because the big issue about multi-agency work is [inaudible 00:19:48] to say that their issues are different and my issue’s different [inaudible 00:19:55] you’ve all got a commonality that you can exploit. Nick: So there’s an element of team voting to it as well as that? Alex: Oh yeah, absolutely. It’s not what it’s intended to do but the team by creating something together and getting excited about it. And then moving on to solutions does create relationships within a team. Nick: And when do you know you’re there? When do you end? Is it literally just a time thing, this is all the time we’ve got? Alex: That’s a great question. And it’s the one that challenges me the most as to when. The last time I used DF was just three weeks ago and it was a really big issue inside a team of board members. We managed very quickly to move away from what the issue was to what it really was. That happened very quickly. And then there was a point when I knew there was nowhere else DF could take them so I then moved onto a more traditional level; a what’s your next step if this is going to be a solution. And they didn’t even notice the join. Nick: Okay. Alex: I didn’t suddenly announce, okay, DF’s finished. You’ve all got a solution. Let’s move forward. I just said so what are you going to do about a solution. Somebody make an action plan and I just got another flip chart and off they went. So, as far [inaudible 00:21:18] them. So there is a point as a facilitator when you’ll know that the room is energized, the room wants to get on with fixing this thing, and know what to do. And at that point, you don’t flip a light switch and say DF is now switched off folks. You just move naturally into a bit of action planning. Nick: Okay. So action planning is the natural step. You’ve got your solution. Everyone has agreed what the solution is and it’s about now working who is going to do what when. Alex: You can tell in the room when people are ready. It’s a scary process for facilitators because you don’t know when it’s going to happen. Nick: Yeah. Alex: The reason it’s less scary for me, but it still is scary, is that I’ve now done it enough to know; trust the people, trust the energy in the room, that something will come through. Nick: Yeah. People always come through. And it’s not about the facilitator, anyway. So you’ve got to kind of take yourself away from that affair and think, well, they’re here to solve their own problems. And all I’m trying to do, my only job, is to help them get there and it’s not like they’re going to leave me hanging or anything. Yeah. I love it. Alex: I mentioned the bookmark and you can do more than one bookmark. Nick: Yeah. Alex: Depending on how long you’re actually working with them, you may decide you need a second bookmark because you can see the group move to sort of a significantly different place. And, as I say, definitely the second bookmark you get done by one of the delegates. Because, if you do the first one, get them up with a pen in hand and they will work really hard to make sure that the group’s work is captured and recognized. Nick: Yeah. Alex: I’ll just say a little bit about Jim Rough. Nick: Yeah. Do that, please. So, Jim Rough is the creator. Alex: The creator of dynamic facilitation and I know he’d be happy to talk to you. Nick: Fantastic. I’d love to get him on. Alex: I met him, first of all in Frankfort when I went to be trained. I then sponsored a course in London that he came to. And then I attended another one this year, in fact, just as a bit of a refresher. So I’ve actually met the guy three or four times now. He came up with this system because he was working inside a wood mill, a pulp mill, in Washington State in America. It was the workers versus the management and nothing was working because they were shouting at each other but they weren’t communicating. They were talking to each other but they weren’t communicating. And he discovered, when I talk to you individually, I can hear that you’ve all got points. When you talk to each other, the points just go zooming past. So he invented this process to actually let everybody be heard and obviously it’s developed over time into the shape it’s in now. I mean, if you put dynamic facilitation into Google, he’ll be there. You’ll find it. Nick: Okay. Well, I’ll look it up and I’ll also include the links below this broadcast as well so people can find out a bit more about it. Are there training courses that people can go on? Or is there just stuff you can read about? Or would this broadcast be enough for people to really give it a go? Alex: I’ll never be enough [inaudible 00:24:52]. Jim’s mission is to save the world and this is just one of his tools. The tool that he wants to use in a lot of different environments to do that. No he runs seminars. I think he was in Switzerland a couple of weeks ago. Austria has taken this on big time in local government. And they use it to have the community heard. Nick: Yeah. Alex: And so they call it the wisdom counsel and they use dynamic facilitation as a process to help the community speak to its government. And it’s, once again, as you can imagine, bringing a lot of desperate groups together in local [inaudible 00:25:40]. DF brings them together every time. And, as I say, Austria has taken it on in a big way. Nick: Fantastic. And what about the UK? Other countries. This sounds like a very interesting thing for America’s issue. Alex: I have yet to find a local government official that will allow this to happen. There’s to seem a fear. I’ve tried three or four times now. In fact I’m working with another city at the moment and this one’s looking possible. There seems to be a few that if you ask the people what they want, they’ll tell you. Nick: Right. Can you imagine? Alex: And [inaudible 00:26:30] of course wouldn’t be able to do it because they’re going to ask for the wrong things. Nick: That’s right. Yeah. We won’t be able to deliver so let’s not find out what they want. Alex: No. So hopefully we need a local official with courage. Nick: Right. So the private companies are much more up for this normally, have you found? Alex: This is fine for commercial environments. It’s fine for everybody actually. Local government leaders can find this to be a challenge to their authority and they could lose control if the people get too many nos. But they’re not [inaudible 00:27:13] how this thing works and that’s not what it’s about. But for any organization who has got a big problem, I keep emphasizing big, impossible problems, are the best topics for dynamic facilitation. Nick: Okay. Okay. So [inaudible 00:27:32] is on me. So, if one of our listeners wants to try out dynamic facilitation and they come against that objection that their subjects are worried about where it might go. How can they overcome that objection? Have you come across that objection and you’ve solved it so you know how to deal with it? Or is it always different? Alex: I’ve never come across it because I actually don’t tell them in advance. Nick: What they’re going to do, right. Okay. Alex: I agree with them, what is the output you want to achieve? What’s the problem you want to solve? Nick: Yeah. Alex: Ask them to have four flip charts in the room. Nick: Yeah. Alex: And then I just explain to them how it’s going to work. And they love it. They absolutely love it. Delegates love this process because there all engaged practically all of the time. Once again, depending on the size of the group. But they’re virtually engaged all of the time. And it really works. But I would never explain to someone in advance, dynamic facilitation and expect them to buy it and understand it. Because you’ve got to be in it. It’s about like telling them how to ride a bike. They don’t have a clue how to ride a bike until you’re on it. Nick: Yeah. So you just get on with it. You do it and the results speak for themselves. But the process is probably a bit too scary and unnecessary to go deep into. Alex: Exactly. Virtually with all the processes, all the events that I would do, I wouldn’t tell them the DF. I’d say, what is it we’re trying to achieve here? I’ll get you there. And then I’ll just turn up and I’ll do it and they’re on it. It’s so funny. They can see that their people, because if you’re working with a CEO, or a nervous CEO, they can see very quickly that their people are engaged. And that’s what they want. That’s all they want. They’re having a good time and getting [inaudible 00:29:30]. Nick: Right. Got it. Well, personally I think it’s fantastic and the main reason I love, and it’s a purely selfish reason, is I don’t have to do any preparation before I turn up. You just turn up, you do it, there’s no materials, you just need a willing group of people and, yeah. And I love those processes where you just literally have to trust it. You don’t know where you’re going and it’s exciting for facilitator just as much as the audience, the delegates. Alex: Yeah, I mean, this lack of prep thing is really quite important because I’m happy to know vaguely what the issue is that they want to fix. [inaudible 00:30:18]. If you’re working with a CEO, that CEO absolutely wants me to know the issue at the onset. But I also know within 10 minutes the issue will change. Nick: Yeah and this process allows it to. Alex: But if you want to tell the CEO whatever your problem is, that’s not the one that will be solved. [inaudible 00:30:32] we’ll just get someone else. Nick: Yeah, it’s much better to let them have that realization privately rather than ram it down their throat before hand. Alex: Let it happen in front of them and they’ll be fine. Nick: Well, that’s great. Alex: And the only advice I would give people is find a safe situation to try it. You know, go looking for a problem with a safe group of people, and once again make sure they care about the issue, make sure it’s significant enough, and then just give it a go. Nick: Yeah. Alex: But don’t tell them it’s the first time you’ve done it. Nick: Yeah. Alex: The first time I did it, I did not tell them it was the first I had done it. I told them I had done it several times and it had been a fantastic success. Nick: Yeah. Alex: That was before I even went on a training course. Nick: Really? Alex: Yeah. I just read about it on the website and I thought, this feels right. It feels right. Nick: Yeah. Alex: I just went with my gut. Nick: It does just tick some boxes there that an experienced facilitators know about what doesn’t work particularly well about very rigid, very strict processes. Well, Alex, thank you very much for coming on the show. It’s been highly entertaining as always and highly informational and really interesting. One more thing, if people want to contact you, what’s the best way to do that? I mean, I don’t think you’re going to get a flood of connections but if anyone wants to speak to you about this, would that be possible? Alex: Yeah. I don’t know how you connect people up through your… Nick: I can leave your e-mail address. Would that be okay? Alex: Oh, absolutely. But I would certainly ask people to go on the dynamic facilitation website. Nick: Yeah. We’ll leave that as a link. Alex: [inaudible 00:32:32] When Jim talks about it, he says it in a much more articulate, shorter period than I am. Nick: Fantastic. Well, hopefully I can have a conversation with Jim as well and just complete the circle. But this has been a fantastic introduction so thank you very much. Alex: Okay. Thanks, a lot. Nick: Thanks, Alex. See you soon. Sponsors I mentioned To be confirmed The post WSB 002 : How To Use Dynamic Facilitation To Solve Big Problems In Under An Hour With Four Flip-charts and a Pen appeared first on WorkshopBank - Helping You Create High Performing Teams.
58 minutes | Oct 30, 2012
WSB 001 : How To Successfully Manage Client Expectations Everytime & Stop Them Introducing Dreaded Scope Creep
In this session of The WorkshopBank Podcast I have the pleasure of interviewing Nicolai Andler, a half IT and half organizational change management consultant who has literally written the book on project and change management tools. We delve into a few of his favorite change tools and techniques exposing how he likes to work with his clients to keep them on point and we talk about his past, present and future books on the subject. There are some really useful change management tools in here that are incredibly simple to pick up and start running with so I really hope you enjoy the listen. [leadplayer_vid id=”50901E42EDD2F”] In this session, Nicolai and I chat about: What got him into consulting in the first place and how he does a mix of IT and Organizational Change Consulting Why doing this mix of consulting types is a nice balance of the work in terms of content, experience and personal financial risk How he finds IT Consulting more draining personally but it pays the bills and how the Organizational Change is energizing because he’s dealing with people The questions he likes to use when working with people and helping them through a process with change management tools How he always likes to start with stakeholder expectations first How he manages differences in expectations with change management tools and realistic / unrealistic buckets How, during Expectations Exchange, he likes to allow people to voice reservations as well How he uses Harvey Balls to quantify scope to measure performance and delivery How he workshops the Project Definition Document to understand the phase, project and business objectives (with a real example) His ‘Is / Is Not’ – a simple visual tool for controlling scope creep How he uses a Stakeholder Map to decide which stakeholders are in and out of scope He positions himself as a process consultant rather than the provider of solutions and puts his stakeholders in the solution generating position How he likes to underdress for his client to put across that he’s a different kind of consultant A clever way to deal with workshop dissenters who rise up against the process that you’re delivering A simple 3 step process to help you coach someone through a strong negative emotional reaction Links mentioned in this podcast include: Nicolai on LinkedIn Nicolai’s website Nicolai’s book (English edition) – Tools for Project Management, Workshops and Consulting Thank you again, Nicolai, for sharing your knowledge with us here on WorkshopBank! Get ready for the next session of The WorkshopBank Podcast coming very soon. You’re not going to want to miss it. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast below to get it automatically to your computer or device when it’s available. Thanks and all the best to you! Click here to subscribe via iTunes Click here to listen on Stitcher Raw Transcript WorkshopBank’s audio transcription is done by Speechpad Nick: Hi, there. My name is Nick Martin. This is WorkshopBank’s inauguaral podcast. I’m really excited to be joined today by Nicolai Andler. He is consultant, business analyst, author, trainer, lecturer, coach, and outdoors enthusiast. He’s founder of the Ignite Group in South Africa and partner at the MC2 Institute in Switzerland. He has a Master’s in Science and Chemical Engineering and Commerce from Berlin, an MBA equivalent from Toulouse, certificates in systems development and coaching. He has a book, he’s an author, so he has a book on Tools for Project Management, Workshops, and Consulting, which is a best seller, I believe, having sold over 12,000 copies worldwide, which is fantastic. Which has, something like, 120 tools and techniques covered? Nicolai: Yep. Nick: So, very interesting for our audience, for sure. He’s now in the process of writing another book, which we’ll talk about a little later on. So, welcome to WorkshopBank, Nicolai. Nicolai: Thanks very much for having me. Nick: No worries at all. So, like me, you have a degree in chemical engineering … Nicolai: Oh? I didn’t know that. Okay, yeah. I do. Never really used much, but I do. Nick: And, like me, is there something about not wanting to work on an oil platform for the rest of your life [inaudible 00:01:29]? Nicolai: Funny enough, the reason I became a chemical engineer and not the mechanical engineer, I didn’t want to get my hands oily and dirty. So, you might see the [inaudible 00:01:38] that my hands fall off, but at least not oily. Nick: Right. Nicolai: Now, I quite quickly went actually in, even during my studies, I was always engaged in management consulting work, and I got a job offer to start and that was my interest anyway. So, that’s the reason. Nick: Straight into consulting. So, you’re mainly based out of South Africa and you work with the Ignite Group. We just had a brief conversation, you’re mainly working in IT consulting now, is that? Nicolai: Well, in South Africa, I do a lot of business analysis, business specification work. When I’m working on projects in Europe, I’m doing more organizational management consulting work. Nick: So, in what industries do you like to work most with? Nicolai: The management consulting is a bit broader, it’s not so much relevant to the industry. I’ve just been working in the health care industry doing an organizational change project there, defining product and customer bases. Before, I’ve worked in an IT transformation project for a life insurance company, but it was basically the IT department. And, the most recent IT project I’ve done, in terms of communication, was actually for an ad agency to define their media management systems. Nick: Okay. Nicolai: So, actually, it’s quite broad. Although I think I have, not out of choice but out of project and circumstances, I’ve worked quite a lot in the financial services industries. I’ve covered the retail banks, a bit of the investment banks; [I’ve] spent a lot of time in the life insurance, and the employee benefits, and individual risk areas. Nick: Okay. Looking back on your C.V., very soon after you finished your education, you founded your own company. Nicolai: Yes. Nick: Why was that? Nicolai: I’m a bit of a rebel. Nick: Right. Nicolai: I think one of the things I realized, I kind of had two companies I worked with as initial management consultancy. And, it was a time just before the Internet bubble burst, and then I realized that a lot of companies, or management consultancies, ignored the IT side and that’s when I then actually joined an IT consultancy to also learn the IT thing. Often it was like, “Okay, we have a business process and that’s the way how we re- decided that these are the people and the IT department must just sort out the systems.” Well, nothing was happening, because especially I was working a lot with the financial services companies; the IT is so dominant in those industries that you can change a lot in the business side, but nothing will happen unless you actually have change in the other side as well. Got a phone call, sorry. Nick: That’s okay, this is real life. Nicolai: Yes, yes. Must be another client calling. Nick: Must be. Well, I’m sorry you lost that contract. Apologize, from us. So, what do you like most? I mean, I’ve done IT consulting and organizational change as well and they don’t tend to go hand in hand. Nicolai: No, not at all. Nick: What do you like the most, the people or the computers? What do you get most excited with? Nicolai: It’s actually, for me, it’s the ability, not the ability, but the choice. So, in an IT world, what I don’t do much is actually the project management work, because as a business analyst I work quite on a risk base. So, I often come in and I say, “You pay me the deposit and you only pay the rest if you’re actually happy with the quality of work.” But, I can’t do that if I’m too involved in the political haggling. So, in an IT environment, I actually enjoy being independent of the people. I work with the people, but I’m very much in control of what needs to be done and delivered. Nick. Yeah. Nicolai: So, the style of working, even the contractual arrangement and the risk level I have is very different. So, this is almost like the engineering mind that is coming through, I can just put my head down, work with the people, extract the requirements, define them properly in workshops, and define that. On the other side, I enjoy working with people in more in a process consulting workshop type of environment where my coaching education also helps to connect with people and build a rapport. And, so, this is more the organizational change element. The way I build it is different because there is so much risk. I mean, my experience is most projects fail, not because they can’t find a technical solution, because of the people. So, I build differently. I build less on a risk base because I can’t guarantee it in a way. Nick: Yeah. Nicolai: I mean, there might be delays that are just not, it might backfire if I just say, you know, “You just pay me a portion of it and you’ll pay me at the end of the project and then the project… I mean, I’ve just been on a project that’s, I was supposed to actually start mid-September, and now, due to some organizational issues, it is supposed to be starting in April. Nick: Okay. Okay. Nicolai: I like both and I like having the choice of being able to dive into the more technical elements, doing it, fixing it, getting out of it for three months and being involved in more fuzzy, it’s not that I enjoy the politics, but when I do management consulting I’m more prepared to live with it and accept it. Nick: Yeah, and I guess having a balance of them both means that your personal financial risk is even now as well, because you’ve got the … Nicolai: Yeah. I mean, the IT consulting doesn’t pay as well, but it’s kind of gives me that, kind of, predictability, plan-ability versus those long [inaudible 00:07:41] contracts are much more, in a way, risky because there’s nothing for a lot of time and then something comes through. And, also, I think almost from a, I don’t want to say work-life balance, because it’s not life [inaudible 00:07:55] to work, but different types of projects give me a different type of energy. Nick: Yeah. Nicolai: And, the one is more draining and the other is more nurturing. Nick: Yeah, so let me talk about more of that nurturing stuff. So, what drives you to want to be involved in those kinds of nurturing projects? Nicolai: I think it’s the element where I recognize that they are all individual human beings and helping them to, I don’t want to say to make them happy, because this is kind of an illusion, but help them to mature and grow and realize what’s happening. It might even be that they realize for themselves, “The company has moved in another direction and that direction doesn’t suit me anymore,” without the aspect of, “I’m a bad person or the company is bad and unacceptable and they’re doing bad things.” So, there’s an element of helping a person to find their way or their path; and at the same time also conveying the message throughout the process that, “You know what? Nobody forces you to work here.” I mean, there is often bit of a, there’s often a, no, some people in the H.R. or organization design community might not like what I’m saying now. There’s a perception that the consultants come in, do their work, and now often the woman, there’s a strong dominance with a woman in the H.R. or O.D. domain come in and look after the handicapped or the kind of leftover that didn’t survive the war; look after the battlefield. And there’s often elements that, whenever you have this organizational change, developments, domain attached to your [inaudible 00:09:56] or your business card, then you must be doing something touchy-feely stuff. It’s all about, “How do you feel now?” And, I’m saying, it’s important, but there’s much more to that. So, when I talk about helping a person, individuals, and the company to grow and mature it’s not a [inaudible 00:10:16] care, and how you feel, and poor you. It’s really about, almost like, understanding what the person is going through and still demanding the best of them. So, there’s a certain empathy with a, I don’t want to say reasonable hardness, but it’s a kind of a reality element to that because, people, things change. I mean, I don’t mean everything changes, but I also say business changes a lot over the years and I think a lot of people they’re still stuck in their old way of thinking. And, it’s not the thinking is wrong, but it’s maybe not suitable for the environment they’re working in. So, a lot of what I do is not just holding hands and saying, “How are you feeling,” and “Yeah, that must be so bad and I understand that you don’t want to do that.” It’s also [an] element of, “Well, what are your assumptions about work? What are your assumptions about the company? What are your assumptions about your colleagues and are they still valid? Are they still relevant?” And, through that, kind of, almost like, I don’t want to say shake them and make them awake, but, yeah, make them mature and grow up and take ownership for their life and their situations. Nick: Okay, that’s great. Now, okay, so, as you know, the point of these interviews is to try and give our audience actionable, real actions, real processes, stuff that you do on the front line when you’ve got a new client and you’ve got a new customer, so they can copy those steps, or learn from them, and mold them into their own tools and techniques. So, when you have a new client, when you win a new client and you’re in there the first day, the second day, whatever, what kind of process do you like to go through? How do you like to work with them? How do you approach the start of a project, for example? Nicolai: Okay. I can say that actually I do that on an IT project. I do that even in the workshops. I do that on any project. Often, you kind of get a brief, like a project contract, this is the direction. Nick: Yeah. This is what good looks like. Nicolai: I clarify the expectations and I do this even when I lecture with students. And there’s like three things that are important, doing that. You can use a flip chart and later, actually, I type it up, and document it, and get it signed. And a typical example is, some years ago, [SAP] implementation, [inaudible 00:12:59] maintenance, product planning module. And, it was an additional module, so there’s already SAP installed in a small area, but it was a significant SAP implementation. So, we got all the people together and the project was clear. It’s about implementing, defining and implementing, that module and we still ask them, “So, what are your expectations?” And, then the marketing person says, “Ah! We’ll be able to position ourselves better, so it’s actually increase revenue.” And, H.R. says, “You know what? We’ll be actually having a better retention rate, so people leave less quickly because they’re not going to be as frustrated. They were always so upset about the system. So, with this one we’ll have the retention rate.” And the plant maintenance says, “We can now truly track where theft and loss is, so we’ll actually save money.” I said, “I hear you, but your expectation is not realistic. I mean, maybe they were to a certain degree, but this is purely about implementing a system, replacing the old one because of some technical issues with this one. So, what I mean with this expectation exchange is it’s letting the expectations come out. The second point is, manage the meeting, tell them when they’re not realistic, because those people will actually [inaudible 00:14:26] the project, will actually keep on hoping it finally will deliver this. Nick: Yeah. Nicolai: It’s almost like going away for the weekend and hoping that something would happen, but it’s … Nick: And it never happens. Nicolai: Yeah. It’s like you’re going away with your girlfriend and leaving the, your wife and leaving the, kids at home saying, “Hey, finally, [inaudible 00:14:44] we’ll have a couple weekend together,” versus your wife didn’t tell you that she invited the grandparents or something. Maybe not the best example. So, it’s about, well if know up front you can surrender to the circumstances, surrender to fate. Maybe you are sad or disappointed at that moment, but better now than much later. Nick: And, what’s your style with that situation? Would you like to manage their expectations down below where you think they can get to? So, when they get to the end of the projects their expectations are exceeded, so they feel more positive about the overall process. Or, do you to get to, do you try and lock them into where you think it’s naturally likely to get to? Nicolai: I’ll try to, number one, manage them in terms of what is realistic and what is unrealistic; and rather than focus on what other things is the project going to deliver, technically without labeling it, this is your expectation, that’s maybe what we should focus on. Another thing I do there as well, as part of the expectation exchange, I also ask them for their reservations, or pitfalls, whatever you want to call them. People ask me, “But, Nicolai, aren’t you looking for trouble? Or, aren’t you looking at, this sounds so negative. Why are you asking them for their negative stuff?” And, I say, well, it gives me an insight about what to look out for. There was a situation where it was said, “We’ve had other consultants before and they didn’t work, you know? This is just a waste of money.” And, I’m saying, “Ah! Another consultancy. Great. They must have done work. We can re-use that instead of reinventing the wheel. So, great, thank you very much.” So, I’m almost happy when people voice their reservations because these are the things that, these are the mistakes other people have made before. And, I document that and I actually let people sign it and at the end of the project I use something that’s called [inaudible 00:16:48] balls. Because often, when people, you know ask them, “So, are you happy with the project,” they’ll say, “Yeah, yeah, cool,” and you can’t really answer, “Fine, not fine, okay.” Just picture a circle with a cross, you have four segments and the two [boose] balls, what is sometimes called hobby balls because of the front, with is [inaudible 00:17:11], so it comes from [inaudible 00:17:15] the consultancy. So, I draw that circle with a cross, next to it their expectation. So, I sit down with them and I say, “Now, listen, at the beginning, three months ago, we had this as an expectation and we changed them and we crossed out this one, but this one is still relevant. So we agreed this is a realistic expectation. Have you met your expectation?” And, then I actually, with a marker, I fill out the segments being 25%, or half of that, two of the four, 50%, 75, or 100. So, I quantify something. I took something qualitative into something quantitative. I can measure that and have had 10 stakeholders with 3, 4 expectations each, I can actually measure, put it all together and calculate and say, “Well, listen, in terms of performance we have achieved a 67% meeting expectation.” So, it is not just at the beginning, but actually, I use it at the end. In terms of communication I make them aware, “Listen, this is what you had at the beginning, how would you see it now, and have we actually delivered on that?” And, obviously, I use that expectation right through for my own, not just communication, but also what I need to focus on. Because, [inaudible 00:18:32] implementation but if you completely ignore the expectation which you deemed realistic, you’re not going to get a high score, you’re not going to get a very happy client. Nick: No. Nicolai: It’s more than just the technical delivery of a system or something. Nick: I’ve used the model rational, political, and emotional dimensions of every project. In this context, your rational dimension is, do you deliver the system and is the system up and running at the end of the project. But, the emotional and political elements are so much more powerful and can trip the project up half way through, or just completely destroy it at the end if you don’t manage it. And, what you’re talking about there with the expectations sounds very much like the managing the emotional journey. Nicolai: Yes, very much so. I mean, as you say, quite rightly, the project definition is typically one of the elements that is more factual. Nick: Yes. Nicolai: Often, that is also not clear. I would also, as part of the workshop, clarify that. What I often do there is say, “Okay, I clearly hear objections.” But, for me there are three levels. There is a phase, a project, and a business objective. So, what is the phase objective of this project? What is the overall project objective? And then, okay, we have delivered the project, how is this going to be helpful for the business? So, this is actually what really counts, why we are doing this project, but often this, kind of, a bit fuzzy. So, when I have a project definition document under my heading objectives, I have actually three subheadings. I say, business objectives, project objectives, objectives for this phase. Make it crystal clear that they are different levels. Nick: Could you give us an example? Nicolai: Without revealing too much of my projects, okay, I give you a project example. It was for a company who is, I definitely can’t tell the name because now it is really embarrassing for them, they had no idea if they were making any profit with the product they are selling. So, they had no idea about selling it for, let’s say, E150 a service a day, but they didn’t really know if those clients they are selling it to were they breaking even? At what amount would they break even? So, in February, they were basically how they do for the year. Nick: So, they didn’t know the value the client was getting, or they didn’t know whether they were personally making a profit? Nicolai: No. No, actually, they were definitely, they’re not knowing for during they year they don’t know if they actually ending up with a profit at the end of the year. Because, they had no idea about, “Okay, let’s charge E150 for that service for the day, but they didn’t know the internal cost structures. Nick: Okay. Nicolai: “Now, we should be fine with 150, we should be even.” But, then for several years now, they had more and more clients, it was in the health care industry, and they’re still not really breaking even, or making a loss. They were making a loss. So, what we did was we helped them to define basically a costing model for each of their services; and they had many, many services. They had several hundred services all building up into a package for the day. So the phase was about cost analysis. Objective for the phase was to defining what each service element costs. The overall project was about implementing a costing system, not just doing the analysis, but actually translating it into their data systems. So, when marketing put something new together, they can actually say, “Well, we need to pitch this at E190 because it costs us E120 or E150. So, the phase itself was defining the raw materials, the raw data. The overall project, which would be in three phases, was actually implementing something, not just in the costing department and for controlling department, but also the marketing and sales department, the relevant information. But, the overall business project was vending that we are in liquidation in three years time, because we’re running out of, we have some reserves. So, this was one element. The other element was offering products that are profitable and getting rid of, like cleansing our product portfolio or service offering, getting rid of the stuff that is not really helping. Thus, can we do it because in the health care industry you have certain obligations. You can’t just say to a patient, “Sorry, mate, you’re not really part of our segment. You’re costing us too much. Why don’t you find another place?” So, there was some strategic, long term development, kind of, evolving out of this. I’m not sure if that’s kind of clear enough, those three objectives? Nick: No, that made sense, that made sense. I’d like to dive into a couple of other, do you have tools that you regularly use? With most clients, you’re extremely likely to pull it out, whether it’s a framework, or it’s an individual tool? Nicolai: Yeah. I have something that all the consultants that we train, or even the students we lecture, they like it because it’s so simple. Okay? Just picture a square, like a rectangle, and within you draw a circle. And, I call this the, “Is Is-Not.” Typically, what people will do at the beginning of the project, they define what it is we want to work on. Good. And then you have to go through the project and three, four, five weeks later you have a conversation with the people and they’re saying, “No. No, but you also should be doing this. No, no, no, that was out of scope.” “Yeah, but this doesn’t belong to the scope, this is just a sub-element of this. So, I had examples where, talking about a system that I was implementing in a warehouse environment and I had quite a clear scope at the beginning and I was spending a lot of time in the first weeks, just defining and actually writing down, and that’s what I do outside the circle. And, inside the circle, I write down, “That’s in scope.” It’s almost like my project [inaudible 00:25:34] deliverables. And, I have tons of words in there; they’re not necessarily too scientific. They are people there, it’s almost like a context diagram in there, process systems, everything that’s kind of, I must look at and I must touch. In the outside world, outside the round circle, I put, and this is even more important, I put all the words, all the elements, all the systems, all the interfaces and processes, that are out of scope. Make sure, so when I do this, I have a first version that is not complete. So, actually, I take the print out with and I walk to different stakeholders, just to make sure, is there anything I forgot or I should be on the inside on the outside? And, often it’s the sub-elements, or it’s implicitly, kind of, assumptions. And, we all know, assumptions are the mother of all [inaudible 00:26:27]. So, it actually is my life insurance on a project. I go back to that page quite a lot and, once I actually get it signed, when we’re all happy this is a good representation of what’s in and out of scope. Nick: Write down like full bullet points that are obvious that are out of scope. Nicolai: But, there is a gray area and I try to make it, almost like, I remove the gray. I make it explicit. This is an explicit yes. This is an explicit no. And, I use that tool a lot. It’s super simple. I mean, without even seeing it you picture it and it’s more like a communication. All the tools I use are more, more like communication tools and mentally structuring tools. So, you don’t actually, necessarily, have to do the drawing and sometimes people then put it at the table and say, “Left side in scope, outside.” I prefer drawings and diagrams. That’s one of the tools I definitely use. Nick: And, that’s a tool for you personally to manage yourself, and your project, and the project stakeholders through the project? Nicolai: Yes, absolutely. So in my project if I actually have this as a drawing and have a signature on it and I say, “Listen, this is what we, at that time, we start out with.” It might change. Nick: I was going to say, what do you do when it evolves? Because it’s going to evolve, as people remember, “Ah, we forgot this over here. Oh, don’t worry, Nicolai will deal with that.” Nicolai: Yes, well, I mean it is difficult. We all know it’s not as simple as I, kind of, make it seem now. To say, “Well, listen, just add another 100,000 and I’m happy to do that.” It’s not that simple, but at least it gives me that process. I mean, I also have different versions of it, so I can actually see how it would evolve and say, “Listen, if we change this, then it has, like, implications or, kind of, other things, are you prepared to change this? In this case, it was actually that, in the warehouse project, they realized if they want me to include another, like basically [inaudible 00:28:28] warehouse system, but it was also supplier system into the warehouse, and I said, “Well, listen, this supplier should also be connected with this whole thing; and well, I’m happy to do that, then it’s not going to be delivered within the three months and not for the price we agreed, because I need another 30 hours more, or 30% more.” And then they said, “Hmm. Okay.” It is really, I make it transparent, but also because I draw it and later I, actually I use context diagrams where I draw in the scope, based from that diagram, and then they realize there is a whole lot more because then there is like system involved, suppliers involved, the stakeholders. So, I make this decision theirs by making it transparent to them. And, yes, we all know they still say, “Nicolai, you still got your management time.” And I say, “No, I’m not. If you’re saying that I could do it anyway, then are you saying I’m wasting my time anyway, or I should be finished sooner?” Nick: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Nicolai: Reality is it’s not that simple as I describe it, but at least it gives me the mechanisms, “Listen, you signed this off.” Especially when people actually put a signature on there, that’s my lesson. If you get people to actually physically sign a document, and you then actually scan it in, and it’s sitting there, they’re like, “Hmm.” They make double sure before they sign and this is absolutely correct. Nick: Absolutely. But, that can also drag out the start of the project, can’t it, quite a lot, whilst people are stepping back and prevaricating over whether they should actually put their pen to paper. “Well, my boss is going to be happy with the fact I’m putting signatures to it.” Nicolai: It can be. You need to see, I mean, I’ve worked in an environment where, it was almost a management of non-delivery, so nobody was committing to anything. And, in one session I also walked off, because I said, “You know what? The risk is too high for me to continue without having a proper agreement, a proper signed off versions, it all will backfire.” That’s why in one session, I actually walked off. I’d rather be associated with handing over and getting my deposit back rather than associating with something that’s not, I can’t stand for. The tools are no guarantee for success. Nick: No, absolutely not, absolutely not. I like that tool a lot, because it’s so simple and so visual. I’ve seen so many project charters or in- scope out-scope documents that are just so wordy that you can’t really get a visual sense of, well, what is in scope and what is out of scope, without sitting down for six hours and reading a document. And, to have something all on one page, with just a few words on it, it appeals to my simple, simple, way of life. What about one more, have you got another tool that you work with the client, actively, in a group situation? Say, you’ve got a bunch of your stakeholders in front of you and you’re in a workshop situation with a define objective, is there a tool you’d like to …? Nicolai: I’m thinking, but I’m not sure. I don’t think that’s going the right direction. Maybe what I’m building on, sometimes, is actually the stakeholder map. Also, at the beginning of a project I also have a physical diagram and, I use very similar logic, I use also, I put boxes on there; gray ones are the in scope and white ones are out of scope. [inaudible 00:32:22] mention the ones I’d like to [inaudible 00:32:24] talk to, because they’re out of scope? Because, I don’t want to make that decision. So, I actually put it out there and say, “Listen, I got the impression we’re not talking to those, those, those. We’re not talking to unions, not to ad agencies, not to whatever.” And, they’re saying, “No, we must talk to them.” And, I’m saying, “Well, are you sure? Because, then we need to change back our in and out of scope. We need to change back our project objectives. Plus, we also need to involve them in the following workshops.” So, a lot what I do at the beginning is actually involving them in their making the decisions and the suggestions. And, also, use that in terms of, “Who am I forgetting?” Often, when I sit down with those diagrams and I said, “I’m sure there’s something that’s wrong here.” I always, like, invite people to, not to critique me, but to, I’m not coming there with the attitude like this is, kind of, we can, this is printed gold and it’s done and delivered and don’t touch this. I invite people to say, “There’s something wrong here. I’m sure I’m missing something. Help me to understand who else we should see and talk to.” So, it all comes, and again, lots of interactions from one to the other, because they won’t feed each other. Nick: Yeah and why do you find that inviting them in to the process works so well? Nicolai: Because it reduces, number one, this kind of, “Oh, the consultants are there, they know anything anyway.” You know, this barrier of consultants must know better. So, my consulting style is not, I’m not an expert consultant, I’m more a process consultant. And it took me quite some time to really get what it means. For me, it’s not coming with a solution; it’s coming with a way of working. So, on account of working through those diagrams is a process. I’m not defining, I don’t have a very clear picture of the end result in mind, because then I would almost, like, drive them and use them. I’m saying, “Well, I have a contract. I have a task to do here, and this is the end objective, and with the process let’s clarify if this actually still holds true.” I had projects where, after three, four weeks I went back to the stakeholder and saying, “Well, you initially told me that this is the issue and that’s why we’re implementing this system; or, you want me to do certain things. I can do that, but we’re not going to make a change at all.” So, we found, actually, the root cause is something else. And, we found it through your employees, they actually pointed it out. So, do you still want [inaudible 00:34:56] seriously? I mean, I’m happy to continue doing that, because we make money, but I’m just telling you. Better stop this and let’s sit all together and realign where we want to go.” So, bringing the people in creates the ownership right from the beginning. Nick: Yeah. Nicolai: I mean, it’s even how you dress. I mean, I try to, like, rather under-dress and over-dress. When you’re at the airport or the central station and you spot the consultants. Nick: Yeah. Nicolai: And, I try to, not overcome this, but just diffuse that, diffuse those two walls, those two groups that are banging into each other. Then it’s about being right. Nick: Okay. So, when you’re standing up in front of them, your demeanor is saying, “I’m not going to tell you what the final solution is going to be; you’re going to. You have to power to decide that. I’m just going to help you get there.” Nicolai: Yeah. That’s maybe another tool. That’s quite useful in terms of communication. It’s called vroomyetton, V-R-O-O-M-Y-E-T-T-O-N. Nick: Okay. Nicolai: I mean, it’s a concept, but I found it quite useful for managers and I also use that sometimes. It’s basically, you communicate what is out there, or what is to be discussed, and open for debate, and what’s not open for debate. Okay, let me rephrase that. Sometimes, the boss says, or he doesn’t say, you know he has a conversation, he goes away and presents his decisions. And, the employees says, “But, that’s not what we worked on, that’s not what we suggested.” So, I believe he made a mistake. He didn’t make up front transparent and clear how this process is going to work. There are two things that are available for discussion, the option and the how the decision is made. So, are we saying, “We’re all going to discuss options,” or are we saying, “The boss is suggesting the options and you can discuss them?” So, there’s like, before I have options [inaudible 00:37:14], are there options, how do I get to the options? The next level is, “Well, you might define all the available options, but I, the boss, make the decision,” or, “We all make the decision together,” or, “You make the decision.” I mean, in the normal company there is no kind of base, democratic of decision making. What I often find frustrating for people is they don’t know the rules of the game. So, they have an expectation that when you ask them for feedback or you ask them for process input, you have a process [inaudible 00:37:49] workshop, and they come up with all their ideas and the boss says, “Oh, thank you very much, but I’ll do it my way anyway.” So, what I do, because you mentioned, you standing up there and saying, you invite it, I make clear the rules of engagement. I say, sometimes I say, “We’d really like to get your opinion on this. However, the boss will still make the decision, or he might not do anything with what you say.” At least there’s [inaudible 00:38:19], but at least they know what’s coming. Nick: Yeah. Nicolai: Or, I say, “Listen,” this was the last project and I said to the guy, we had done basically a whole who are our stakeholders, what we should be offering, who are our customers within the inner management circle. And, you know management decided, “Okay, let’s involve all our divisional, kind of, head of departments, [inaudible 00:38:46] team.” And, we said, “You know, we’re going to do that,” but I said to the guys, “the boss has decided or management has decided it costs you however much of money.” I told them the costs, it was a lot of money and said, “only because management decided we want to involve you. That means, if you’re not coming up with ideas, I am, as a consultant, my fee at the end accountable for that. I will make, or I will fill the gap. You might not like it. If you filling and defining everything, I’m not stepping in. At the end, whatever you don’t do, I will do, but then you don’t have a right to say. So, it’s your opportunity now to, over the next three months, contribute and be part of the workshops because if you’re not doing it, I’m doing it.” So, [inaudible 00:39:36] there was like a third level, there was like the consultant also has a say in a way. And, that is what we’re going to present to management and management will have the final call. They didn’t really like it too much, the first half an hour there was some internal debates, “Is this right and fair?” I say, “Listen, this is your opportunity for the last, and I showed them some [inaudible 00:40:00], you always said you wanted to be more involved in what management does. This is your opportunity.” So, it’s about being frank and honest and standing up for what the rules of engagement are. And, I think being transparent is helpful. So, this is one of those tools you can use. Nick: And, how did that particular workshop turn out? So, the first half an hour was difficult, but what happened after that? Nicolai: There was one person who almost, like, questioned, “But, we should be doing it differently.” And, I said, “Well, it’s not up for debate.” Nick: There’s always one of those. Nicolai: Yeah. I was quite direct and I said, “Listen, I can’t force you to stay here, but I will not change the approach because management has decided this is the approach. If you don’t like it, then you need to take it up with management, because I’m just the messenger, in a way, I’m the facilitator. I can’t force you. I can just tell you, you’re missing out on a great process, because we have done it twice, with management and the middle layer, and they all loved it and they were actually quite happy to contribute and they enjoyed having free brainstorming sessions. I can’t force you to stay. I will tell you that if you’re leaving then I’m not sure if management wants to invite you to the next times.” So, I’m also, they have quite direct and frank, and people almost, like, they appreciate it, not the harshness, but the honesty around it. And, say, “Okay, we might not directly like [it] but he has a point. I mean, keep on talking on, we want to get involved. This is our opportunity. Let’s grab it.” And they actually turned out to be really excited. I mean, we always take videos and take pictures for the whole journey throughout the workshops, and we have a great, kind of, journey book over those three months of project work. And, they got engaged. We had, at one session we had an expo, with all people from the company involved, and we had 62% of all people of the company actually attending the workshop. That’s good. Nick: That’s fantastic. Did the boss follow through on his promise, or her promise, I’m sorry, and pick solutions that were developed by the group? Or, did they just come up with their own and … Nicolai: No, actually, they used the ones. Potentially, I’m not sure if they would have been so comfortable doing their own thing. They were quite happy, what the group developed, actually would fit and would make sense for them. So, actually, they were consistent in their communication and their action to say, “We will consider what you have done; it’s still our decision.” I think one or two things they said, no, to; and I think it was also, maybe, good to actually say no, because then you’re also walking the talk. Nick: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely, it makes a lot of sense. Well, that’s great, thank you very much. I’ve taken up a lot of your time, but before, let’s talk about your book. So, you’ve published Tools for Project Management, Workshops, and Consulting in 2005, in English, is that right? Nicolai: Yes, and the English version is now in it’s second edition; and the German version is in the fourth edition. Basically, the same content, but the German version was selling a bit faster, so I did a few reprints. Nick: Okay, and how’s it structured, or what was your aim, your mission with this book? Nicolai: Well, right at the beginning, as a junior consultant, I was looking for books that tell me about the trade. And there is no book; there is no book out there that actually talks about the basic consultant skills. I use, as a reference book, systems engineering book that is around problem solving, and I use that as my skeleton, or like my framework for the approach. So, basically, it is a problem solving approach, consisting on four simple steps. And, you can do these steps for planning your wedding or changing your organizational structure. It’s all about, I’m not happy. I mean, basic thing about problem solving is you have a state where you’re not happy and you have a solved state; and the way to get there is about, number one, defining where you are. It’s almost like a journey. Nick: Yeah. Nicolai: Define where you want to go. Third step, analyze, find options, how to get there. And, the fourth step is, make a decision which option is more suitable. So, the whole process, or all the tools, are actually in categories, underneath those four steps. Nick: Okay. Nicolai: Okay, so, the first step is the diagnosis, this is where I am. So it’s the situation analysis, or situation diagnostics, or definition. Some of the tools I mentioned are sitting in those categories of tools. There are 10 categories. There’s situation definition, information gathering, information consolidation, different analysis, strategy, or technical analysis, decision making, creativity, these are the categories of tools and tools are sitting in those categories. So, typically, when you’re on a project, you need to first realize, what phase am I? Am I in the definition phase? I’m first trying to understand what’s in and out of scope. Who are the people? What should we be doing? Or, am I, rather, at the end of the phase? And, typically, you are at the final presentation and then people say, “Well, let’s do brainstorming on what to take [inaudible 00:45:28] this decision on.” “No. No, brainstorming is expanding a new thing. You need to consolidate stuff, you need to, kind of, narrow down.” So, you’ll find the tools for that in that category. So, basically it’s almost like a cookbook. In a cookbook, you know what you want to cook, a dessert, or a starter, or a main course, a soup, or something; you go in the right category and within that category you find the right menu with the right dish. Very similar to that, it’s about, “Do I need the creativity tool, or decision making tool?” I go into that category, and there’s certain criteria that actually helps you to select those tools, and each tool is like a recipe. When would you use it? What does it do? Instruction, how to do it. A cross referencing, about when do this, don’t forget you should have used this before, and this afterwards. So, in the expectation management tool and the cross references, it says, “When you use this at the end of the project, use the boose ball tool at the end of the project, and the boose ball tool is under this, whatever category. Nick: It’s leading you through the journey of a project. Nicolai: It’s leading you through the journey, but it’s not a project management logic. It’s a problem solving logic. Nick: Okay. Nicolai: As the overarching [inaudible 00:46:48] framework. Nick: And, there’s 120 tools? Nicolai: With 120 tools, at the moment. Yeah, I’m kind of permanently on the hunt for new ones. Nick: Of course, of course. Well, hopefully, WorkshopBank will be able to help you with that. Nicolai: Would be nice. Nick: And the new book, tell me a little about that. I know you’re right on deadline. Nicolai: Yes, I hope my publisher is not listening to that. I’m seriously overdue. So, basically, the first book is about the hard skill, analysis, market analysis, project management things. The second book is on the soft skills. So, realizing that, yes, you can nicely define everything, but there’s still a human being involved; and a human being has fears, emotions, conditioning, upbringing, beliefs, and unless you kind of have a way of addressing them, it is very difficult to really, kind of, move forward. So, the new book, it’s tools for, the jargon words is, leadership coaching and change management; and it has a similar logic, I also use three levels. So it’s about having a relationship with yourself, with other people, or the organization. So, again, we have tools and tools with a similar logic, grouped into categories, and those categories belong to those, either level one, two, or three. So, the example is, you’re at work. Your boss walks in, in the morning and he’s like, you can see, he’s furiously steaming; and your first thought is, “Oh, no. What have I done wrong?” So, I mean, if a person, or coach, would work on you on that, he would not analyze that, but he would actually help. He would use a tool to make explicit, “Is this about you and yourself, you and the other person, or you and the organization?” And, there it might actually come up that it has nothing to do with your boss. He might just have crashed his car, or has a fight with his wife, or something. This is about your own inner assumptions, your own inner world. Nick: Yeah. Nicolai: You would use tools that are [selecting] in the category on the first level. Nick: To help the person visualize [inaudible 00:49:06] Nicolai: Yeah, I mean, I have this mantra of those three steps, they are, be aware that you’re doing it, secondly, cognitively understand what’s happening, and there’s a third step, you can then make the right decision. Nick: Yeah. Nicolai: Okay, the person needs to be, first, aware that they’re not [inaudible 00:49:28], and getting sweaty, and running out, or calling their husband to kind of vent their frustration or fear. This is about becoming aware of what’s happening, “I’m doing it again.” So, it’s like catching yourself when you doing it. The second step, and this is where the tools come in with those models, cognitively understand, “Is this me, or is this him? Is there a reason? Where is it coming from?” And then, the third step is like, “Hmm. What is it I could be doing?” You know? So once I understand this actually has nothing to do with me, I have done my work properly; yes, I make mistakes, but there’s no reason for that. Maybe, as a conscious decision, as in the third step, I stand up, go to the boss, bring him his preferred cup of coffee or tea, and say, “What happened? Can I help you?” You know, instead of actually shying away and hiding in the corner, and hoping he’s not finding you, and all morning you’re kind of worrying that you’re going to be hit with a stick, when there’s no reason for it. Nick: Yeah. Nicolai: I mean, it all sounds so, in theory, all so nice… Nick: Yeah, some people just like being hit with sticks. What can I say? That particular example is much more of an interpersonal, emotional [inaudible 00:50:46] Nicolai: Yes, it’s an interpersonal … Nick: Is that what the whole book is about or is there anything about the group as well? Nicolai: No, absolutely. There are eight categories. The first two categories are more about the inner space, and then there are categories about team work, team dynamics, how to relate and work with others. Some of them are a bit more about the formal elements; and other things about the informal elements. Like, the informal stuff is the stuff you can’t really see. I mean, the formal stuff is the [inaudible 00:51:21] chart, and the informal stuff is the relationship in between, the informal networks, the power maps, and all those things. So, there are many tools. At the moment there are 80 tools, but the aim is for 400 tools. For other areas, leadership things, coaching things, I mean, these are the big buzz words I’m aware of them, but a lot of the tools are fitting in those categories. Nick: Yeah. Nicolai: And, as well as [change] management. Nick: And, can you give me one more example of maybe a group working tool. Nicolai: Under the level of me and the others, there’s the motivational element, motivation tools, there are team interaction tools. I give you one out of the motivation one. Nick: Perfect. Nicolai: Which has a bit of theory element. They are the five levels of power. Okay, because motivation is also, to be able to motivate others, you need power. A lot of people, including myself, for a long time I had this stigma about power, power, power abuse. No, there’s more to that. So, the tool is about, based on the five levels, or the five versions of power you have. You have the power out of coercion. You have a power out of your position. And with those powers, you need to actually think, is the power within, or is the power over another person? Okay? Nick: Okay. Nicolai. You have a power out of an expertise. Nick: What do you mean by powered within? Nicolai: Power within is, for example, the power of knowledge. Nick: Okay, so, like a personal … Nicolai: It’s a personal power. Nick: Does it make you feel powerful? Nicolai: Yes, yes, yes. Opposite to, if you have a power out of your position you have a power delegation over another person. It’s like when the boss says, “Well, I can tell you and you must do it,” but, you’re actually thinking, “Yeah, you’re not powerful, but you can just make me do it.” Okay? Nick: Yeah. Nicolai: So, the thing is, I mean, understanding the five powers in theory is not helping you much, but it’s understanding that you have different powers and then the exercise would be, “What are the powers I believe I have? What are the powers I use with other people, at work? But what are the powers I use with my kids, with my wife?” So is it then charismatic? Is there a relationship power, which is more about, people are following other people, not because they are by position, or by knowledge, but because the way they are. This is relationship power. So people have, the charismatic leaders have a relationship power. People don’t follow them because they are the boss, they somehow resonate with them. So, this is a tool you can use to say, “Well, how do I exert me, what powers do I use? What powers do other people use with me?” Nick: Yeah. Nicolai: And once you become, again, once you become aware and you understand what is happening, you can make the decision to engage consciously, or disengage certain powers, or use them more or less. Do I use coercion power with my kids? Is this the best way of doing it? What kind of power do I use with my partner? I mean, it becomes a little bit tricky now. Nick: Yeah. I’d definitely love to dig into that tool a little bit more and analyze my powers with my kids. At the moment, I don’t feel like I have any power of them at all. Nicolai: “I tell you, because I’m your daddy.” Nick: Exactly. Maybe I’m just using the wrong type of power. That’s really interesting. Well, Nicolai, thank you. Thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview. Thank you for being an excellent guest and I’m looking forward to reading your book and seeing when it comes out, hopefully, soon. Nicolai: Very much so. Well, let me start right away with continue the manuscript. Nick: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks, Nicolai. Nicolai: All right. Nick: All the best. Sponsors I mentioned To be confirmed The post WSB 001 : How To Successfully Manage Client Expectations Everytime & Stop Them Introducing Dreaded Scope Creep appeared first on WorkshopBank - Helping You Create High Performing Teams.
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