I've been working with a small client team to design a workshop. The client team see lots of weaknesses in the current set-up that the group is a part of. As the fighter pilot said when surrounded by enemy planes, it is a target-rich environment. So where do we begin?
We discussed jumping in and asking the biggest, baddest questions about the group's role and existence. We played around with focusing on process tasks like revisiting terms of reference. We thought about starting with easy wins.
The someone suggested a garden metaphor: the group and its work is a garden and - so he thought - the implication is that we want to do something evolutionary not revolutionary.
It got me thinking about the different kinds of interventions you might make in a garden - which could be radical as well as incremental - and we used these metaphors to help us reach a clearer common view about what the workshop should be like.
Dreaming of warm sunny evenings
Especially at this time of year, when nothing much is growing and the days are moist and cold, many gardeners will be dreaming of long summer evenings with a glass of wine and artfully placed candles. Scents and seating and shade. We could use the workshop to dream about the desired future, building a rich shared vision that inspires us during the hard months ahead.
Rip it up and start again
Not all interventions in gardens are evolutionary. People sometimes decide to completely remodel their garden: hard landscaping, tree removal, new soil, the works. So a workshop could work on new plans: where to put the pond, as it were. And people could even move on to project planning: when to get the diggers in.
Or the workshop could be like a work party: lots of practical immediate stuff to get on with: weed the borders, turn the compost heap, sew the broad beans and repair the fence.
Using metaphors helped us decide
Tossing these options around helped us decide on the kind of workshop we wanted, before we agreed on the detailed draft aims. We went for the weeding party. Trowels at the ready!
What metaphors have helped you, in designing and planning workshops?