Entries by Gillian

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Congruence in Event Design: When It Tastes As Good As It Looks – Learning from #TEDxEHL

We just helped put on a TEDx event hosted by the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) on the future of hospitality which had a string of amazing speakers exploring “ideas worth spreading” from how our human spaces will increasingly interact with us, how to put together an unlikely “SWAT team” to solve a problem that needs innovation, why thinking like […]

Facilitators: To Your Health!

I prepared a 54-page Facilitator’s Guide for the workshop this week, a master list of materials, a session-by-session description of what job aids to make in advance of the event, and a mock-up of every flipchart we would have to draw on site. We had a detailed facilitation agenda, and a script ready for each session that would […]

Online Educa: Follow Us There!

We’re going to Online Educa, 17th International Conference on Technology Supported Learning & Training, purported to be the “Largest Global E-Learning Conference for the Corporate, Education and Public Service Sectors” This annual global virtual learning fest is held in Berlin from 1-2 December. Lizzie and I will be tweeting from the conference (follow us @GillianMMehers and @Lizzie_BGL […]

10 Systems Thinking Books Recommended by Pegasus

If you are interested in Systems Thinking, then Pegasus Communications (Systems Thinking in Action – based near Boston) writes the useful Leverage Points Blog.  With posts on everything from What it Takes to Lead a “Tribe” to 10 Useful Ideas on Systems Thinking. One of the posts that caught my eye as particularly practical is their post listing 10 […]

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Thumb Wrestling for SMART People

I wrote in a past blog post about using Appreciative Inquiry to “makeover” the lessons from a great team game called Thumbwrestling. The post was called: Activity Makeover Using Appreciative Inquiry: From STUPID to SMART. In that blog post I go through in some detail the debriefing, after the action happens (see that post for […]

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What’s in a Name (Tag)?

For years, name tags looked something like this (above): Name, title and organization. Small, business card size and with a pin on the back that always meant that no matter how many times you adjusted it, it listed slightly to starboard. The printing was also pretty small, making people with personal space issues perpetually nervous.  Name tags are changing, here […]


TEDGlobal: On My Way!

Oh, it’s been busy busy busy, but for a week, time with stop, and I will paddle around with some 700 other people in a veritable sea of “ideas worth spreading” at the TEDGlobal Conference next week in Edinburgh. I have done the suggested prep – I noted and contacted my Top 10 TEDGlobal attendees (TED uses a “secret” […]

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TEDx Tokyo: Let Junko Edahiro Welcome You to the “De” Generation

Watch this 8 minute video taken at the recent TEDx Tokyo which features Junko Edahiro, Chief Executive of Japan for Sustainability, answering the question about what motivates young people today.  She introduces 3 “De’s” – trends which she observes to be forming a big part of the value set of young adults today (much to the consternation of their elders). De […]

Training-of-Trainers from the Trainee’s Point-of-View

Yesterday at the beginning of our training course I asked my trainees a check-in question, “What do you think you will have to do to apply your learning today?” I wanted people to think about their own processes of learning and to share with each other some reflections on what it would take for them to translate the […]

Live and In Person: Face-to-Face in the “Education” Stage of Facilitation

In the stages of facilitation, one of the key preparation stages is “Education”. In this stage the facilitator gets to field questions, give background information, descriptions, share anecdotes and generally help the partner with their learning about any aspect of the facilitated event or environment. Sometimes partners precipitate the Education stage conversations – because perhaps you are suggesting some […]

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Making Meetings Meaningful – Greatest Hits from an Organization’s Learning Department

In doing the research for a participants’ guide for the Facilitation learning programme we’re launching with a partner next week, I found a nice “greatest hits” collection that we made of some of our blogging reflections on the topic of making the most of internal meetings.  These posts were written from inside a large organization’s learning department and give some insight into the internal dialogues, […]


Workshop Design: Five Questions to Get Started

I was just asked by a partner to send through some questions on which we could base a first workshop design discussion. I looked back at my learning design blog post Good Learning Design Discussions: Where to Start? (which incidentally and surprisingly just moved into the top 3 most read posts on this blog) and I think the […]


A Facilitator’s Nightmare (Literally)

Every single page of the first pad of flipchart paper had been written on, with marker was so dark that it was clearly legible on both sides. The second pad, with no cardboard backing, was shiny and slick and had been rolled and then stepped on, lining it with deep wavy creases. Another was on a roll […]

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What to Do With the Stack of “Reading”? Creating A Personal Knowledge Management System

Confronting Your Reading Pile I have been writing about my spring office cleaning exercise, and that has included much frustration about what to do with an enormous stack of great articles in a “Reading” pile. Do you have one of those? I pawed through it; it is really excellent stuff, titles from David Stroh’s “Leveraging Change: The Power […]

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The Connected Facilitator: What’s in the Online Toolbox?

Full disclosure: I ran a workshop at the  International Association of Facilitators Europe Conference a little while ago on Facilitation and Web-based Tools. It went well, and the participating facilitators were enthusiastic users and happy to share. We did a quick mass collection of what and how people were using different tools – I diligently took down the flipcharts and promised […]

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Good Learning Design Discussions: Where to Start?

Sometimes as a learning practitioner you are working with a third party process holder, and not (at least not in the most initial stages) with the learners themselves. For example, you might be designing a lessons learned workshop to collect experience that informs planning for a large conference, you might be designing a capacity development programme for farmers around rainwater […]

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So You’ve Been Asked to Give an Ignite or Pecha Kucha? Scott Berkun on “Why and How to Give an Ignite Talk”

As we frequently use Pecha Kucha’s and other presentation techniques, I thought I would share this great video of Scott Berkun giving an Ignite (5 min presentation – 20 slides autotimed at 15 seconds each), on the topic “How to Give an Ignite”. His lessons are terrific and his engaging modelling of the technique itself in giving […]

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In the Absence of Metaphor: Games and New Groups

As Facilitators and Trainers working with new groups and organizations, we occasionally get strong reactions to descriptors like “interactive”, “games-based”, “experiential” when explaining our work. When you dig a bit deeper into those responses, you hear stories of team-building sessions gone awry, icebreakers that were too “silly”, or activity choices that were “pointless”, in someone’s estimation. The […]

Thought for the Day: On Balance and Learning

Two things I heard today just converged for me. The first one was a report from a meeting where a senior government official, considering a learning proposal, exclaimed: “More results, less process!” The other is a quote sent to me by a wise colleague from the Balaton Group, a cherished network, which is simply attributed as being […]

Half! A Simple Way to Make Life Better

My good friend Alan AtKisson, sustainability author, speaker and ideas engineer extraordinaire has written with his partner Kristina AtKisson this lovely little book called Half! A Simple Way to Make Life Better. You can “watch” the book on YouTube as Alan reads through it with you. It’s hand-drawn immediacy and the easy pacing make it […]


“Conference Organizers Providing Everything” ? Packing List for Team Facilitation: Just in Case…

    Next week, I’m coordinating a Facilitation team working at a 2-day conference of some 400 people. We are 5 Facilitators working for the event, sometimes together in a large plenary hall, and at times in parallel in breakout rooms spread over the vast conference venue. The organizers will provide all the materials we need for the conference work […]

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More Efficiencies For Techie Facilitators and Trainers: Evernote and Irisnotes

When I am preparing a workshop, in the day(s) before, I go carefully through the Facilitator’s Agenda (which has more process detail than the Participant’s Agenda) and make detailed notes for myself. For each numbered session (without session numbers the workshop blocks are impossible to keep track of), I write down: 1) what needs to be done for […]

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Creating Temporary Learnscapes: Can Visual Interest Help Us Learn?

I think all of us would instinctively answer this question with a “Yes”, but how often do we actually take steps to create an interesting visual “learnscape” around us, particularly in our temporary learning venues. At least 99% of the time, the spaces that we use for our workshops, whether for strategic planning, team development, training or other, are square […]

Happy Holidays from Bright Green Learning!!

We wish everyone a wonderful holiday season!! I can say “we” officially now, as Lizzie (my co-blogger here since 2006, and former IUCN team member) has joined Bright Green Learning and will start on 1 January. She will bring her innovative learning and facilitation abilities, incredible creativity, and no doubt her “Maximiser” skills to our work. Welcome […]

Too Much of a Good Thing?

I ran a workshop yesterday – an interactive membership learning exercise for a group of 40 international network members – which gave me a moment to reflect on dynamics and the value of diversity of, well, practically everything. In my workshops I like to keep things moving, to get people out of their seats to […]