Archive for the ‘Facilitation’ Category

It’s been a tough couple of weeks with the monkeys. We’re in one of those phases where hanging out with them is sort of fun, but sort of a pain in the a** because we keep finding ourselves having to work really hard to get them to follow directions.

The other day I had to put them both in time out just to get them to stand still for long enough to get dressed for school. Lots of fun, really.

I know that this too shall pass, but of course both Mr. Daddy and I are trying to figure out what we can be doing differently. The other night, as we were discussing it, I suggested that we explicitly spend a little bit more of our time with them really playing with them on their level, so that at least the ‘management’ is interspersed with actual fun.

Mr. Daddy has been pushing the idea of encouraging them to spend 20 minutes or so a day hanging out on their own, without us around. This would give them a chance to assert their independent spirits and us a chance to get stuff done around the house.

I told him my idea, and he agreed. He told me his idea, and I brought up all the reasons I thought it wouldn’t work. Finally he interrupted me – can’t we just try it? Sure.

On the train back from New York the other day I was reading Group Genius, by Keith Sawyer, an excellent read on how to get groups to innovate well. While reading a chapter on how to get smart outcomes from groups instead of dumb ones, he reminded me of the rules of improvisation, the first of which is to build on ideas by saying ‘yes, and’ instead of ‘yes, but’.

As a consultant whose job it is to help teams develop new insights and translate them into new ideas for their businesses, I facilitate brainstorming sessions all the time. I know how important ‘yes and’ is not just to brainstorming but to any great collaborative work. Yet in a mini-brainstorm with Mr. Daddy, I forgot to judge his ideas forward and started to, well, judge. It’s not a great way to problem solve or an endearing way to talk to your husband.

We’re going to try out some of our new ideas this weekend to see if they work. If not, we’ll be back to brainstorming early next week. This time, I’ll try to remember the rules.


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Some days I am so tired I can’t imagine spending another 10 minutes playing with my kids, let alone the rest of the day. Often, I find that if I just start jumping around a lot, singing really loudly, or otherwise engaging with them in an overly energetic state, I actually build up enough energy to get myself through the day.

This also works in meetings. As corporations host more and more all day and multi-day meetings, getting through the day is becoming a big deal. And as an outside consultant, it often falls on me to facilitate all day events. If I pretend that I have more energy than I do, I can often help raise the energy level of the whole room. And if I pretend I’m trying to keep my 2 year old kids engaged, I can often keep up the energy I need to keep a roomful of adults engaged.

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