The Collusive Awayday

Over the last twenty years I’ve encountered quite a few collusive away days. Businesses and other types of organisation often take their team or group (which could be the management team or a team from a particular part of the organisation) out of the day to day office or working environment for a day (or…

Debriefing Your Team

            When a team has been established for a while it can be useful to step back and reflect on how the team is progressing. We meet for an hour or so and work through some questions. Below is a list of questions that can help your team to reflect…

Facipulation – a first mention

A friend of mine runs a singing group. She’s often referred to by participants as a very special teacher. I heard a report a while back of one of her singing workshops for beginners. (She often gets so-called tone-deaf peopled singing merrily and in tune within a few hours). Participants walk into the workshop at…

I-ness and…

This is an activity I developed during some workshops on patient and client care in the public and private sector. Some of it grew out of work with the NHS, some with housing associations. It provides an interesting perspective on how service providers orientate themselves towards clients and customers. This is fun and can be…

Ice-breakers or ice-makers?

Jack Martin Leith (a facilitator of innovation) and I had a chat once about icebreakers. He (also a facilitator) said he didn’t like the word “ice-breaker” as it assumes “ice” is in the room right from the start. I agree. The term “energiser” might be better, but even that assumes that energy is low and…

The Humility (or not) of Facilitation

Have you ever heard of the Ego Index? The Ego Index is a tongue-in-cheek way to measure the egoism of someone through their writing or speaking. You simply take a sample of their writing or speech, total up the number of words in that sample then divide it by the total number of times they…

Flip Chart Dumping

Flip chart dumping is a way of parking ideas and actions and ensuring they are never realised in practice. The act of writing on a flip chart in front of others is a fairly physical activity and often gives the false impression that we are all “doing something”. In too many cases, what we are…

The Utter Beauty of Stinky Flip Chart Pens

When they are thick and bold – not thin and watery; when they are chunky with ink that wants to last forever; when they reek of chemicals so much that you don’t want to hold them for long – these are beautiful flip chart pens. (You can now get non-stinky ones too). (They cry out…

Workshop activities – good and bad features

The following is a short checklist I developed when creating activities for workshops and learning events. It’s a very basic list and ideal for those “new to the game”! It is based on the assumption that there are a few generic features of activities that work well or work less well. I am sure the…

A Critique of Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a minimally structured group process for collectively generating ideas on a given theme, question, challenge or problem. One of the most patronising and patently silly assumptions of brainstorming is that, in the space of five minutes, you can harvest the contents of someone’s head, like a field of wheat. Even where this might…

Coaching and Mentoring – what’s the difference?

I discovered the difference between coaching and mentoring with a game… It probably isn’t new, but it was new in my head when I made it up. You make a pack of cards. 18 ¬†On each card is the name of a famous person. On the other side is the year they were born. Cover…