Friday, 19 October 2007

Useful Resources

I've come across some invaluable references and books over time. I thought I'd start to try and pull these together in case they are of use to anyone.

I've kicked this off by pulling together some book lists via Amazon - click here to see the initial lists. I'll add to this over time with recommendations from books I have in my collection or have otherwise read.

By all means drop me a line with your recommendations and I'll include them here.


Sunday, 14 October 2007

Visual Planning

One of the many pleasures in attending the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) European conference in Edinburgh was the opportunity to see different workshop techniques in action. The graphic facilitation session was hosted by Meeting Magic and demonstrated the use of graphics such as pre-designed templates and graphic recording.

VisualPlan We were also introduced briefly to the idea of planning workshops and meetings graphically. The power of this is that it helps the workshop designer visualise not only the elements or tools needed but how they fit together ('process' in facilitation terms). It even provides a mental rehearsal of key workshop sessions. Here is a sketch I did earlier this week as part of the preparation for a planning session with a client.

The plan is a simple one - use a four stage idea generation and evaluation process to produce a summary for each of several key headings. These summaries are brought together around a large summary graphic as they are produced and build a complete picture of the subject of the workshop.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Mind Mapping Software and Workshops

MindManager in Workshops A while back I posted a question asking for your experiences of using MindManager or similar tools in group workshops. The uses to which these tools are put cover the full life cycle of a typical workshop - planning; delivery; recording and reporting.

Here is a thumbnail summary of the experiences reviewed to date:

  • Planning the event - see an example here
  • Presentation - used to support a presentation or talk with the map providing the summary, navigation, content and links to other files - see Nick Duffil's thoughts here for ideas
  • Interactive brainstorming, sorting/sifting of ideas, clustering, project planning - some use has been reported however this seems to be an area not exploited by users to date. One fear is that the tool may prove a distraction for the audience and the facilitator
  • Recording and reporting - a mapping tool is used post workshop to make sense of the workshop outputs, to record flipcharts in some state of order and to report the synthesis of ideas and actions.

As ever, I welcome your thoughts on these interim findings and any further workshop experiences you would care to share.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Don't Just Do Something, Stand There!

I've just got back from Edinburgh where I had a fantastic time at the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) European Conference - the Festival of Facilitation. One of the speakers was Sandra Janoff, co-founder of Future Search. Sandra reminded us why meetings are so important.

We are often cynical about the effectiveness of meetings, especially in large organisations, however meetings are where we could be doing our most important work - resolving issues, making decisions and achieving genuine understanding.

Sandra has co-written a book with Marvin Weisbord describing 10 principles for successful meetings. They show exactly how to establish a meeting structure that will give everyone a sense of common vision and purpose, make productive use of dissension, and encourage people to take responsibility rather than passively waiting to be told what to do.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Use MindManager to Sort, Sift and Summarise

Post-Its 003 How to make sense of all the ideas gathered in a workshop session? They need grouping, sorting, sifting and summarising so that the key themes can be identifed and the group can review them to achieve a consensus.

There is a role for MindManager during or after the workshop to organise ideas recorded using Post-It notes and flip charts.


In this example the ideas generated by the group were grouped and sorted using MindManager and presented back for review and agreement.

An alternative approach would have been to capture the ideas directly into MindManager as the first part of the exercise. Once idea capture is complete, the group can move on to review and group them in the tool.