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Observations. A Graduate's perspective on a live workshop

SeriousWork training graduate Rebecca Godfrey shares her observations from a live workshop


I had the great pleasure of joining Sean for a full day event bringing together a large team (approximately 45 people) to look at their vision for the future. I was invited to observe and to serve as general helper for the day. This was a great opportunity as I was a helper before I had held any workshops myself; it was a fantastic to stand back and watch him in action as when I was training I was very much focusing on learning the process myself so watching on this day I spotted things that I would like to bring into my own practice and would like to share with the rest of the community here so that we can fulfil Sean's dream of us being the best LSP facilitators in the business.

My six key observations :

1. Pace
Pace would be my first observation - through the use of timers and the music Sean keeps a great pace throughout the day, not only ensuring all of the objectives are met but also building and maintaining a really positive energy to the whole day. See below about planning as planning is key to keep this pace.

2. Facilitate not participate
Watching Sean it was great to see how he could support and provide direction to the process when needed without interfering with the discussions. The gentleness and subtlety of Sean's interventions allowed for the teams to really own the day and the solutions that they came up with.

3. Use of the storyboard
Sean clearly knows what he is doing and how the whole day works but still he ensures that the whole day is mapped out - no winging it here. Seeing the amount of preparation go into the facilitation notes beforehand and how helpful this is during the day to keep the day on track or adjust as and when needed was really helpful. I know that Sean advises in the training to use facilitation notes but it wasn't until I watched this session I realised how vital this approach is. I always use facilitation notes myself and it really helps to ensure that there is a nice relaxed environment but at the same time allows me to keep an eye on the time and where are and when we need to gently move on to the next activity to ensure the event's objectives are met.

4. Having something in your back pocket

During the day we ran slightly earlier than expected, Sean had in his back pocket an extra activity which was great as it gave extra value to the team.

5. Don't be afraid of the sceptics - trust the process
What was most interesting to me about this group is that many of the team had been in post for many many years - some 30 years + but had never before had an offsite. Some of the team seemed a little hesitant at the beginning and there was one table in particular that seemed to have a bumpy start as they not only got use to the tool but also there appeared to be some conflict with this team. My key take away is to trust the process, as we went through the day everyone got on board in their own time, the team that had a degree of conflict slowly but surely warmed up and by the end were laughing and collaborating together seamlessly. I remember this each time I have a session where there are sceptics and in fact I often find by the end of the day those most committed to the process and its outcomes are often those that started the day sceptical of the whole Lego involvement

6. How to involve the leader
This event was at a time of much change for the team as they had recently had a new leader take over the group. Sean had incorporated into the agenda some time for the new leader to speak to outline her hopes and wishes for the day and for the journey ahead for this new team but then allowed her to join the tables ensuring no hierarchy and a real level playing field.

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