Facilitation is (also) a question of confidence, of daring to “stand there” and to be the facilitator. But first facilitation is a question of good preparation and of getting the 3 Ps clear: purpose, people and process. The key task of a facilitator is helping the organisers to clarify the purpose of the workshop, to understand people’s needs and questions, and to design a good process that is interactive, relevant and meaningful.
Nadia von Holzen, SDC
Facilitating a workshop is contributing to collaboration and cooperation. A workshop must not always be led by a professional facilitator; within SDC many workshops are facilitated internally. Especially in the context of knowledge networks there are many opportunities for colleagues to step into the shoes of the facilitator. I can tell you this is a rewarding task. I am not the only one who thinks so!
Good preparation is key
What it needs is good preparation. The key task of a facilitator is helping the organisers clarify the purpose of the workshop, to understand people’s needs and questions, and to design a good process that is interactive, relevant and meaningful. These three Ps – purpose, people and process- must be clear.
Peer exchange and coaching among facilitators
Many SDC workshops are facilitated by colleagues. For this reason we have a group of facilitating colleagues supporting the Learning & Networking team. And this is fabulous.
The Learning & Networking team is supporting internal facilitators through advice, experience sharing and a collection of methods. We meet twice a year to reflect on our experiences, exchange questions and experiment with novel methods. Through this group we strengthen our facilitation skills.
When the workshop starts the facilitator “stands there”*. Yes, being the facilitator is also a question of confidence.
Learning being in the center of our work, we are constantly thinking of innovative ways to bring it to the next level. Based on our substantial study of theories of learning and change, we about a year ago decided to devote our attention to the question of how physical design of the environment supports learning. We have teamed up with an architect to help us translate our understanding of learning into the physical design of our lobby that became an important part of our learning space.
By Polona Sirnik and Jana Repanšek, Center of Excellence in Finance (CEF)
In a work related context sharing stories happens spontaneously during coffee breaks. But what about more formal settings? Picking up a story during a meeting feels different; we hesitate, think twice, we don’t remember the stories and in the end the story disappears: we share our opinion and make statements. So what does it need to pick up a story? There are two essential conditions for storytelling: first, the belief that stories are valuable and can make a difference; and secondly the opportunity to remember and to share a story.
Kanban is a Japanese word which signifies «visual signal». In the industry, for instance in car production kanbans are used to singnalize important information in the workflow: When do I need to reorder materials, for instance. The idea of kanban has spread to other industries in the last 15 years. Two pioneers of kanban in knowledge work are David Anderson and Jim Benson. They started using kanban to optimize the flow of work for individuals, teams or whole organisations. If you are interested in their work, you can read «Personal Kanban» by Jim Benson and Tonianne de Maria Barry or «Kanban – successful evolutionary change for your organisaton» by David Anderson. Using kanban for your own individual work is fairly straightforward and easy. What is demanding is to keep using it and evolving with it.
The idea behind social reporting during a learning event is not only to jointly produce a report and reach out to a wider audience. The beauty of social reporting is that it adds an additional layer of reflection to the workshop conversation. This blog post gives some tips how to include participants and how to make the task of the social reporting team doable and meaningful. The most important of the 6 tips is: Prepare what you can prepare and be flexible at the workshop.
SDC Programme Officers of West Africa and the Horn of Africa engaged in a joint learning process on pastoralism. In a series of meetings they collected, synthesized and exchanged experiences in eight key topics of this area. Manuel Flury and Charlotte Nager take a step back and reflect about the added value and the limitations of such an experience capitalization process.
By Manuel Flury, SDC, Addis Ababa and Charlotte Nager, SDC, Berne
Behind each story there is another story. Our stories are connected. So is the story about the Mongolian herders connected with Udval, a young leader supporting herder communities in Western Mongolia. Udval uses participatory video to give the herders voice and to support their sharing and learning. Soyolmaa Dolgor, communication specialist working for SDC Mongolia, travelled with Udval to Tsetseg soum, Khovd province to document her meeting with the herders’ community.
Alfonso Flores is a networker. He definitely has a networked mindset when he has the idea to connect his Latin America team with the Learning & Networking team based in Switzerland. After having participated in the digital storytelling workshop organized by the Learning & Networking team, his aim is to bring not only the idea of short digital stories back to his colleagues, he also wants to connect them with the Swiss team. To do so he asks the Learning & Networking team members to explain their services in short video statements. And what he shares back to the Swiss team is this blog post.
In 2008 Maria del Carmen Alarcón Lizón started working as communication specialist with the SDC Cooperation Office in Bolivia. Over these years the communication approach within SDC Latin America has evolved from diffusion of information to a more integrative and participatory approach putting communication in the service of programmes and projects. An essential factor in this shift to communication for development (C4D) was sharing and learning among the communication practioners in SDC, for example in the communication network Redcolatina. A manual named “Comunicación para el Desarrollo – Una guía práctica” is the tangible result of this cooperation.
Maria del Carmen Alarcón Lizón, SDC Bolivia(more…)
The end of an assignment offers a great opportunity for reflection. Carsten Schulz shares some of his “take away points” as Team Leader withGeorgian experts in a market systems development project. He underlines the importance of creating, using and sharing knowledge in a project context. “Knowledge is like a garden: if it’s not cultivated, it cannot be harvested.” A sharing and learning culture needs to be cultivated and cared for by the leader and requires action and engagement of all team members.
Carsten Schulz, currently working for GIZ in Armenia(more…)
Thinley Chenzom, Social Events Manager at the Swiss Cooperation Office in Bhutan, gained a new experience by creating digital stories. She inspired her team to create digital stories for the annual report. This idea resulted into several 3’ stories.
This post tells the story of documenting a learning process. The initiative to systematize experiences in the area of pastoralism was launched in collaboration with the Agriculture and Food Security network. The Learning & Networking team decided to document exactly this process. Two ‘reporters’, Charlotte Nager and Hynek Bures, joined the workshop in Kenia, where around 20 people gathered to learn from each others’ experiences in the field of pastoralism. While the participants were involved in thematic thinking the two ‘reporters’ added an additional layer of reflection. This challenging endeavor will hopefully inspire future stories about learning.
Picking up the smartphone and recording a sparkling idea from the workshop is not unusual anymore in SDC. 213 videos have been uploaded to the SDC YouTube channel, this year only. That is why the next step needs some attention: How to use the new tool of expression and the videos produced in the work. This is a question of smartly combining the various communication channels: videos, PowerPoint slides, written reports, oral stories.
The new facilitation book by Viv McWaters and Johnnie Moore for designing and conducting inspiring and creative meetings is available online. It is a book about the art of facilitation. The book is an invitation to reflect our role and our understanding as facilitators. It is not a book about techniques; it is a book about BEING the facilitator.
The beauty of digital storytelling is that the results are not only visible but also shareable. The beauty is also that the process of creating stories within a 3-days workshop triggers deep reflection and learning for the each storyteller.
Alfonso Flores, communication specialist working for SDC’s Water and Sanitation programme in Central America shares his personal learning experience.
By Alfonso Flores and Nadia von Holzen, SDC(more…)
In our work we are confronted with many issues. Some are easy to explain, others need more words. A good way forward is sharing a story. Stories have the force to illustrate complex issues naturally. The images and voices you have in your mind make our sharing and learning more concrete, lively and contextual than a report can do.
There are alternatives to the over-used format of PowerPoint presentation followed by Q&A and discussion. Making an interview with the (guest) speaker is an interesting and easy to realize option. All it needs is curiosity and openness from the side of the interviewer and interviewee; and a bit of preparation.
Barbara Affolter, Anne Moulin, Carmen Eckert and Nadia von Holzen, SDC(more…)
Let’s create learning events that really generate motivation and impulses for our work! This blog post suggests three approaches how to plan for more inspiring and powerful events: ask more than you tell; inquire one case deeply; and make it a learning experience for all senses.
During a 4 days-training, Dave Snowden, the founder of Cognitive Edge, introduced his audience to the challenges, risks and opportunities of working in complex environments. With the Cynefin-framework he proposes a tool to get a better understanding of the working environment and the appropriate strategies in order to be effective. Collecting stories from all the involved stakeholders is in his view the only way for making sense.
Bringing together 95 learning practitioners does not provide a guarantee to joint learning nor community forming. Learning together needs space for joint inquiry and deliberation. Learning together needs true and deep conversations. Conversations are connecting and connections are the condition for deep conversations.
Like many other organisations working in International Development Cooperation DFID has the challenge to enhance the cooperation and sharing between teams and to break the “silos”, to ensure the transparency about what is going on, to strengthen the sharing of experiences and the learning from each other. Always with the aim of becoming more effective and making the best use of the resources and to create – where possible – synergies.