Inventing techniques and exercises

random pens.jpeg


I was hosting a networking and learning meet up of facilitators yesterday.  I had offered to do a session (1 minute rant, which I learnt from Belina Raffy on the Sustainable Stand Up course), but we were running behind time - mostly because there was so much people wanted to say when debriefing previous exercises.  I offered to run my session another time, to allow enough time for the 'main event', but the group wanted me to go ahead with it.  So my challenge was to find a way to debrief it that didn't take too much time.

While the group was doing the exercise, my brain helped me out by inventing this debriefing structure.

  • There were twelve participants.

  • There were three questions I wanted to pose in the debrief.

  • I had a load of assorted colour marker pens in my toolkit.

  • Everyone had played both roles (ranter and listener) in the exercise.

When the group was back in a circle for the debrief, the pens were put in the middle of the circle. I asked everyone to take a pen, without telling them what would happen next.

  • If you had a red / yellow / orange pen, you answered this question: "What was it like to be the ranter?"

  • If you had a blue or black pen, you answered this question "What was it like to listen to the ranter?"

  • If you had a green pen, you answered this question "What do you take from this exercise, which will inform your work as a facilitator?"

The debrief covered all three questions. Everyone got to say something. Collectively we gained enough insight from the exercise. The debrief was snappy and we were (more or less) back on time!

There are great techniques which you can learn on courses, in books (three I've been recommending recently are: Participatory Workshops by Robert Chambers; The Change Handbook by Peggy Holman et al, and The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures by by Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless), from other people.  And there are techniques you invent yourself, in the moment.