Entries by Gillian

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The 100% User Experience-Generated Super Consultant

At the moment I am working with six fantastic consultants who operate in some of the same areas as we do including facilitation and training in sustainable development. This is a wildly international bunch, they are from Ghana, UK, Mexico, Switzerland and Mauritius, and have all kinds of different sector experiences, from government to private. […]

The Golden Rule

We have been to two local network meetings this week – one for trainers and one for facilitators working in the Geneva area. We go to meet people, to contribute something and to learn about the particular topic they are discussing. Last night at the facilitators network meeting we created an interesting taxonomy of icebreakers […]

It’s a Sign!

You’ve heard of reading tea leaves – well, look what tea bags can do. It’s going to be a good week! (10 min later) Ok, apparently it is not immediately obvious (to my husband at least) what this is – it’s a smiley face! Can you see it? If this was a Rorschach blot, I […]


The Forum’s Many Faces

I have mentioned before in this blog the Learning Capture process that our institution is undertaking in the months prior to, during, and after our upcoming World Conservation Congress (October 2008). I use the blog to answer some of the questions – this is question four: Reflecting on the process of designing and coordinating the […]

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Workshop in a Box

Lizzie and I recently ran a 2.5 day visioning workshop using systems thinking tools in Meso-America in Spanish (see recent blog post: Want more amplification: Don’t call it training) without ever formally taking the floor. We did the design work and preparation, consulted pre-event with our local partners, and attended the workshop, and left the […]

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Email During Workshops: Bad Manners or Proof of a New Paradigm in Learning

In the old days at workshops, there was a person up front speaking and everyone listened attentively. If they were not listening they were thinking about something else (a.k.a. daydreaming). Today at workshops, there is a person up front speaking and everyone not listening is typing madly on their computer doing email. Should we care? […]

No More Thinking Out of the Box: Games Can Get Your Further

I regularly read the Thiagi monthly Gameletter which promises “seriously fun activities for trainers, facilitators, performance consultants and managers”. (Lizzie and I went to one of Thiagi’s workshops in Switzerland last year and I am definitely a devotee of this unusual gamer and trainer.) This month’s gameletter focuses on debriefing games, jolts (blinding flashes of […]


Say It With Flowers

There are many ways to say “No”, some are distinctly better than others. Yesterday a mini experiment in saying “No” happened in our office. I wrote an email query (not the first time) which included a budget request and sent it to two senior managers in the institution. It was something I had been banging […]


Behind Jargon: Watching Paradigms Shift

Like tectonic plates, our understanding of different concepts in our world of work slowly, collectively shifts. Like in the natural world, parts may move at different speeds, and change may be initially imperceptible from some perspectives, but things are moving nonetheless. Changes in terminology often accompany these shifts; yet may be offhandedly dismissed as jargon […]


Evaluation for What?

I have mentioned in previous posts the 12 month assessment and learning process we are undertaking for our upcoming World Conservation Congress (October 2008). An internal evaluation team is asking a question each month or so to a sample of staff working across functions in preparation (and delivery) of this major quadrennial event. Their aim […]

Horse, Rope, Hat, Ready to Go

We have just driven out of Yellowstone National Park, past herds of bison and grazing elk, through Shoshone National Forest along the Buffalo Bill Highway into Cody, Wyoming. My husband remarked that this had been the longest time he had been away from an internet or telephone connection in his professional life (he is a […]


Like a Surgeon

This week’s conference extravaganza has been an eye opener (11 workshops and breakout sessions for a 500+ person conference, with effectively 2 Facilitators). Trying to process, reflect and be appreciative about what has transpired (and blogging about it each night ) has been incredibly useful to capture learning. We came here to help create the subtle […]

What Was That

I took an art class in college where we got to programme 1 minute of our classmates’ lives. I don’t remember now what the project was, but it seemed like an interesting thing to do at the time. I worked with another student and we decided to try to fill that 60 seconds with as […]

Adventures in Facilitation

Over 9 hours today, Aisha (co-facilitator for this big conference in La Reunion) and I drove one and a half hours into the mountains to heroically visit our workshops’ venues for tomorrow, and then another hour to the Thursday venues, where we: * Visited and counted over 1700 chairs in 37 workshop rooms;* Tested coffee […]

Reframing Our Big Dig

For the next 18 months, our organization has a Big Dig going on outside our office windows. This enormous excavation started last week with a ground breaking ceremony that launched our new building, one of the greenest in Europe. A hard hat zone, the roar of big machines, the sound of crunching as tons of […]


Taking Your Work Outdoors

You don’t need to be a farmer or a tree surgeon to work outdoors. Even office workers benefit from a bit of fresh air and fresh perspective sometimes. Today we did our team’s mid-year performance assessment, and because it was hot, and there is construction right outside our office window, we decided to have our […]


Learning Lessons from Systems Thinking

I see this pattern over and over and over again. What can one do about it? One potential intervention point is to set a standard/policy on the “attention per project” so that when there is not enough time to do it properly, you do not accept it, thus maintaining quality work and therefore reputation (so […]


The Peak of Productivity: GTD

When do you have a burning desire at 9pm on a Sunday to go into your office and sort through your mountan of paperwork for 3 hours? When you feel like you are, for the first time, actually Getting Thing Done. After a visit and full day seminar from David Allen last week, creator of […]


Facilitator’s Notebook: Were You Listening?

The start of any workshop normally includes a tour-de-table where people introduce themselves and say a few words about their expectations and why they are there. If you are going around in a circle, you can figure out how long it will be until your turn. Then you calculate how many people you can actually […]


Help Fight the Curse of Knowledge!

Apparently the biggest impediment to effective communication is knowing too much. This is according to Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Made to Stick: Why some ideas take hold and others come unstuck (they have a fantastic blog as well). They cite an experiment in their book conducted at Standford in the 90s. The experiment […]


People Buy Adjectives

We were working on a one-page proposal this week, the kind that is going into a board meeting for a yes/no answer, and tinkering around with the text. Wanting it to be minimal, I remembered a presentation I heard by Interact, a UK-based management training group that uses theatre techniques and real actors for training. […]

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Applying the Prisoner’s Dilemma

I had a tough day today, but since I am a Learner, I am going to see what I can get out of it… One of the most famous zero-sum games is the Prisoner’s Dilemma. It explores cooperation, trust, and negotiation between two parties to a situation (two prisoner’s in separate cells decide if they […]