I play with LEGO. Yeah, and I do it in my training sessions too, focusing on the theme that things can be improved.
While cruising around, I read a solid post by Pere Juarez Vives called The Art of Facilitation, in which he put a little LEGO scene together. Cute. But it also tends to illustrate one of my issues with what is viewed as facilitation: It is not simply about playing with things but needs to be focused on the engagement aspect of work and on the issues of identifying issues and opportunities and then doing things differently.
What Pere does is focus on the key points of the International Association of Facilitators basic premises, which is fine. It is an excellent organization and I went through their Certified Professional Facilitators (CPF) certification many years ago. You can click on the image to go to his writings.
I liked how he framed his post around the role of the Facilitator and how he aligned the key points to the IAF framework for professional facilitators. But I also have issues with that framework, since so much more facilitation is done by (or should be done by) managers and supervisors of people in the workplaces. Gallup just showed that US Engagement is at a 5-year high but recognize that it was still only at 34%, and that this is a LOT higher than what is seen in most countries. Engagement still represents a critically important issue for workplace motivation and innovation.
While some of these professional, arms-length practices are good, I always clang with them when I do a facilitation with managers, since I WANT them to leave with the same skills and techniques and approach that I did TO them — they get it, now I want them to DO it and those ideas are fundamentally mis-aligned with IAF focuses; they are viewed as un-professional in a way!
Facilitation is all about engagement, and there is simply too little engagement in most workplaces and with most Bosses. Meetings and discussions offer a wonderful opportunity to ask about issues and potential solutions. Thus, when I work with these managers, I want them to learn from me what I did and how I did it so that they can leverage the knowledge with their people.
Primarily, I do this with my Square Wheels® metaphor, which is amazingly fluid and flexible. Here is a little poem I did about teamwork:
A key principle is ownership, which I express as, “Nobody ever washes a rental car.” Participating in a discussion builds ownership involvement. So, getting these managers to lead similarly is my key focus in so many situations.
I also use the Square Wheels metaphor about how things really work, with the idea that the Round Wheels are already in the wagon. These days, I illustrate those things using LEGO.
The reality is that it is NOT about playing with things, but about generating workable ideas and then having the motivation and momentum to actually implement them. So many facilitations simply do NOT accomplish things when people go back to the same work with the same pressures and parameters.
So, I suggest that you step back from your wagon and consider the possibility of doing something differently for a change.
Check out yesterday’s blog on thinking out of the box, for example.
For the FUN of It!
Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
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Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Co.
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group