Workshop Experiments

Experimenting with Better Workshops

The first two workshops were a bit scary! (Well, for me they were.) As a facilitator, I’m trying many things for the first time. Some things work, some things don’t. That’s a good thing. The idea of exploration is, when half of the experiments fail, you’re learning as fast as possible.

The dust of preparing for my new one-day workshop has settled, and I can confidently say that the program of the workshop is as follows:

Agenda 1 Agenda 2

Some things that seem to work:

  • My #noprojector approach is appreciated by most participants. Instead of presenting slides with a projector, I decorate the room with colorful papers. Participants are invited to write/add anything they want to the wallpapers, to capture the things we learned together.
  • The practice-what-you-preach approach is also working well. For example, instead of just talking about money, we are giving each other money, using a Merit Money system. Granted, it can be slightly uncomfortable. But isn’t it the same with every healthy learning experience?
  • The pre-workshop is also valued by participants. I ask them to prepare stories, to draw a personal map of themselves, and to think about ideas for changing the world. It is playful, and leads to very interesting insights. And most participants are happy to do their homework.
  • Oh, and making videos is fun! (see the one at the bottom) I hope I’m able to make many more.

Some things that don’t seem to work:

  • I organized pre-workshop hangouts several times, but (almost) nobody showed up. The idea was to be available for questions and for people to say Hi before the workshop. But, apparently, when people don’t know each other, there is little commitment to have a chat.
  • We experienced similar problems getting people involved in picking venues. In some cities self-organization worked, but most often it didn’t. No matter how much we tried to motivate participants, most of them simply hope that others take care of logistics.
  • Finally, we failed in our experiments with various communication platforms. We have public discussion threads per country but we realized quite late that we also need private discussion threads per city.

I’m glad to say we’re learning! The idea to practice-what-we-preach, in terms of managing a workshop, was a good decision. And getting rid of the projector was also a good move. However, we’re still seeking the right amount of self-organization and better ways to communicate before and after the workshops. Fortunately, there’s plenty of time. After all, I still have dozens of workshops ahead of me!

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photo credit: Patrick Sarfati

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