Making the Path by Walking

Ten top tips for working with multi-language groups

Ten top tips for working with multi-language groups

Sometimes the groups we facilitate include people who speak the majority language or dialect well enough to not need an interpreter, but not as fast, fluently or idiomatically as the rest of the group. Here are ten practical tips to make sure they are included.

Tools for strategic sustainability

Tools for strategic sustainability

When we get caught up in enthusiastic attention being paid to an issue – like single-use plastic or palm oil – it can knock our planned approach off-course. Or we can use it as an entry point for some strategic thinking. If you get the opportunity to strategise with senior leaders, what are the tools to help you?

If you want to do a more rigorous analysis of your sustainability impacts and opportunities, people I interviewed for Change Management for Sustainable Development recommended a range of frameworks and tools. Here they are, so you can use them too.

Testing the water for collaboration

Testing the water for collaboration

The most important sustainability challenges can only be solved by system change. And system change happens when people work together – collaborate - to change the system.

Collaboration is successful when the collaborators share some compelling aims. It’s not enough for everyone to nod along from the side-lines – they need to be rolling their sleeves up and getting stuck in to the game. How do you help potential collaborators find their shared aims?

Guiding a group through the adventure forest

Guiding a group through the adventure forest

One of the most helpful things a facilitator does, is to transform how groups feel about the messy, sticky, unfocused middle of meetings. Facilitators often call this the ‘groan zone’. The phase of a meeting when conversations go a bit random, and it feels as if no progress is being made.
 
But what if we reframe the groan zone: if we help groups explore and appreciate the wonders of the ‘adventure forest’?

Creating a 'Thinking Environment'

Creating a 'Thinking Environment'

Nancy Kline’s Time to Think was one of the first books I read about coaching, and it has had a profound effect on my work with groups and in one-to-one settings.  Kline believes that “everything we do depends for its quality on the thinking we do first. Our thinking depends on the quality of our attention for each other”. 

Here’s her guidance on how to create a holistic setting which enables people to do their best thinking.

What might change, when an organisation changes?

What might change, when an organisation changes?

When you think about the changes you want to bring about, to make your organisation or sector more sustainable, what do you see changing? Do you have blind spots about where change might happen, and how deep or how obvious it will be?
 
Edgar Schein’s Three Levels of Culture model is a great way of understanding what might change, as an organisation or other entity changes. It’s useful to think very widely about the kinds of things that might change – or need to change – to get us on track for sustainable development.

Silence, respect and slow ritual: some observations on facilitation in Japan

Silence, respect and slow ritual: some observations on facilitation in Japan

In my short visit to Japan, I was privileged to be able to meet with three groups of facilitators: in Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo. Huge thanks to everyone who helped make this possible! These were evenings of surprising connections, open-hearted curiosity, tolerance of misunderstanding, and delicious food.

This blog post reflects on some observations and conversations about three (and a half) aspects of culture which may trip up an outsider coming to facilitate in Japan.

Everyday eco-living in Japan

Everyday eco-living in Japan

The loo with an integrated handbasin which drains into the cistern; the fifty-page guide to recycling and rubbish disposal; the tiny boxes you can put your leftover food into at a café; the handbag size hand towel you take with you to use in public loos… I saw a lot of things in Japan which we could usefully adopt in the UK.

The 'do they really mean it?' test

The 'do they really mean it?' test

Sustainability initiatives! Low-carbon innovation; gender equality; getting rid of single-use plastics; well-being.... In-house sustainability change makers and the consultants who help them are forever devising and launching initiatives and campaigns to get colleagues to do things differently. Sometimes colleagues take them up whole-heartedly and they develop a life of their own. Sometimes you get feeling people are sighing and rolling their eyes, waiting for it to fade away. What makes the difference?

Brainstorming for introverts

Brainstorming for introverts

Some people just hate shouting out ideas in a group. If you need quantity and creativity, and to make sure the quiet thinkers contribute their ideas too, this alternative to the traditional brainstorm is my new go-to technique.

The business case for sustainable development

The business case for sustainable development

If you want sustainability to move from being a nice-to-have, to being a must-have, at some point you will need to show that there’s a business case for it: that your organisation will meet its core mission better, faster, cheaper by paying good attention to sustainability than by ignoring it.  

What does the business case look like in your organisation?

What can I do, to calm the climate?

What can I do, to calm the climate?

If the IPCC’s Special Report on climate change made you want to do something – anything – to calm the climate, swiftly followed by a sinking feeling that you just don’t know what is both doable and meaningful, and you’d rather not think about it…. You can do something meaningful! Here’s a great way to find your contribution.

Organising small groups within a larger event

Organising small groups within a larger event

We’re pretty used to asking people to talk in small groups, but which kinds of groups work best for different kinds of conversations? If you’ve scratched your head wondering how to form small groups, take a look at these options.

There's a place for us... Choosing a venue

There's a place for us... Choosing a venue

There are some venues which make my heart soar – and some which make it sink!  What can you find out about a venue ahead of time, which will help you pick a great place and enable you to design your event or workshop to suit its idiosyncrasies? Here’s a great five-point checklist.

Surf's up!

Surf's up!

Our opportunities to change things can come from unexpected directions.  A new CEO who wants to shake things up.  A sudden upsurge of public enthusiasm for naked shampoo bars or reusable cups.  A cost-cutting drive.   

How can you make the most of these changes from elsewhere, and surf them expertly to get things moving in a sustainable direction?