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Local Leadership and Facilitation: Rock, Paper, Scissors Inc.

December 24, 2010

As the year ends, it’s perhaps time to return to the roots of what this e-newsletter is supposed to accomplish.   We began it as a way to share stories about people with disabilities living connected lives with friends, neighbours and family and, for those who support those connections, to promote and discuss facilitation techniques and to increase the skills and connectedness of network facilitators of all kinds around the province.    We always welcome your stories and ideas and have been grateful for contributions.   Why not make it a New Year’s Resolution to send us something?

One of my favourite facilitation and training groups is Rock, Paper, Scissors Inc., the work of Lee-Anne Ragan and Diana Frances.   These folks are genius, using drama, humour and improv to deliver messages of teamwork, social justice and accountability.   I’ve been to a couple of their workshops and always think I should attend more, and perhaps this year we’ll be able to organize something with them for those who facilitate networks.   Working in an urban centre that is one of the most culturally diverse cities in North America, and then going out around the province to meet people who live very differently, always makes me think of a day I spent with Diana learning about multiculuralism in the workplace and a skit she did with a volunteer about driving to work.

The great thing is that Lee-Anne Ragan has a blog from which she sends out her particular brand of genius and learning with joy, and she’s agreed to allow us to quote from and link to a recent article that I loved, titled “10 Ways how to wrap a training (or a cat)”.   Lee-Anne states, on her bio, that,

I believe that creativity is inherent.I believe being human means being socially responsible.I believe that for most of us, suffering is optional.I believe that, for all of us, humour is our golden ticket.I believe in differences that make a difference andsimilarities that are significant.And I believe that to see myself and others fully I have to get out of my own frame.

I think the world could use more whimsy.I think cookie dough should be a food group unto itself.I know being Canadian rocks.

I’m passionate about making a living doing what I love; creating engaging workshops that help people laugh, learn and lead.

In itself, to be this clear about one’s mission as a facilitator is a great lesson for those of us who stand up at the front of rooms (or those of us who try to convince people that sitting in a circle is a good thing), and this is a great example.    She makes some great points in this brief article and I really like this focus on one single aspect of workshop hosting.

The primacy and recency effect in training tells us that participants tend to remember what happens first and last, hence the need for a good ending.

How do you end your trainings?

Here’s a checklist of things to keep in mind:

  • ending a training is more than saying ‘we’re done, go home’
  • ending a training is not the time to open things up to questions – encouraging questions should happen throughout the process
  • ending a training is one of the most critical parts of the workshop – just like the introduction and the body
  • – pay attention to how you close the process – what can you do to transition the individual participants out of the group, deal with any emotions or relevant issues that came up?
  • pay attention to how you close the content – what can you do to help the participants review and carry their learning forward?
  • some groups need a thorough focus on process and little content closing; other groups will be more 50/50 and yet others will be mostly content focused – which is yours?
  • include logistical things that need to be covered (e.g. sending follow-up resources)
  • include evaluation – ideally you’ll have been doing this throughout the process (depending on how long the workshop is) but often it’s good to get some final feedback in a way that makes sense for your workshop
  • encourage communication – share your social media contact information – email, Twitter handle, Facebook, LinkedIn (whichever are appropriate for you)
  • encourage sharing resources – I rarely end a workshop without showing my website, blog, newsletter resources, book lists, delicious account (social bookmarking site that lists my online resources)

That’s a wrap.  Make it good, make it sticky.

If you check out the full article on her blog, you can also see an excellent video of “how to wrap a cat” – which gives us a bit of a hook for remembering these details.   You can learn more about the innovative and award-winning works of Rock Paper Scissors here.   The whole site is worth exploring, and there are a couple of great little videos about their work.

One of the goals of the 101 Friends Project is to support local leadership, and we should be very proud that this is a Vancouver company.   If you are involved in running a community agency, you might want to check out their “community based training” section and consider having them in to work with your group:

You’ve got a community group that has great intentions and great goals but needs something to help it get to the next level. Community Works is a catalyst for skill building and creating capacity in the not-for-profit sector. Through our workshops in cross-cultural and diversity training and team building we engage and inspire participants to build skills while bridging differences, to strengthen their relation to community by celebrating diversity.

Our customized workshops offer hands-on practical skills in a creative and collaborative learning environment. We also cover areas such as needs assessment, evaluation and planning, curriculum design, and cultural audits for organizations. A key component of all of our training services is to provide sustainable action plans for the future so that knowledge and skills are transferred back into the workplace.

Please Note: Community-Works accepts full responsibility for all information presented in our workshops. And if the world becomes a better place for it, you can take all the credit.

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