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My First Workshops - by Dr Tammy Watchorn

Graduate Stories: Blog post by Dr Tammy Watchorn, graduate of SeriousWork facilitator training.

Lego Serious Work…wow…what can I say..

It took me 3 years to sign up for the course. I really wanted to do it but being an AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) I thought it might just a faddy thing. Then Will Sudworth who had been on the course and is very much NOT an AFOL told me it was the best thing he’d ever done… so that convinced me.

4 months later I’m thoroughly enjoying myself on the intensive and fabulous course.

2 days later I leave happy and tired with my certificate. Woohoo.

But what next?

A week later I had my first “gig” lined up on the proviso the sponsor knew it was my first outing.

Then an opportunity arose to test it out first on my team.


With Sean’s help (and persuasion) I really planned the first session with my team to the nth degree (down to minutes on the detailed design). I spent a fair bit of time on the question and bounced it back and forth with the sponsor and Sean until we had the right question. But deep down I knew it was the wrong problem so anticipated it not all going to plan….

And it didn’t. But what did I learn?

A detailed plan (with notes) is a MUST – and it takes so much of the pressure off enabling you to focus on facilitating the people and not worrying about the process. It means you go into the session confident in what you are going to do (no blagging it).

Sitting down for the entirety – not great for energy and can leave those at the “edge” of a table on the “edge” of the activity.

It’s OK to veer off plan if it’s not working – I did try this, but the group were adamant we were on track and choose to continue – but through facilitating the people and picking up on where everyone was I could predict where it was going to go wrong and question and challenge some key bits to allow them to come together as a group on why it wasn’t working.

On reflection the things I expected to not work didn’t work because we were working on the wrong problem (you can see from the image it’s a very basic model which I think was due to them not being able to answer well the challenge question).

But what the process did do was demonstrate what the real problem the team had and for the first time I think align themselves on this to enable them to articulate and agree an action plan. So not all bad and a nice safe way to practice.

Two weeks later was the big “gig” between third sector organisations and hosted by ALLIANCE Scotland who were looking for user centric solutions and ideas to support collaborative digital activities.

So what did I do? I repeated all the good stuff from round 1. Spent a bit longer on reflection between each section to ensure they understood bricks as metaphors and were able to listen with their eyes (something I’d rushed in round 1). Got them standing for some bits and moving away the chairs. Let them start their shared build and left them for a few minutes, then challenged them on their “talking” rather than mediating through bricks.

The outcome – Wow… the sponsor created a video that is being shared across the wider network – no writing up, no documents, just telling the story and seeking feedback from those that weren’t present. The sponsors boss came to see the final story telling and had a big grin on his face. People were peering in through the glass door eager to join us. The group who had never met each other before had developed “their” desired solution together. They had aligned themselves on their collective needs and could all tell the same story. They all went away with a big grin on their faces and full of energy (as did I)…

Not bad for a couple of hours effort on a Monday afternoon in Glasgow.

What next for me? Seeking opportunities to do more…. Will Sudworth – are you reading this?

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