This is one of series of blogs that are a retrospective reflection on Integral City Community of Practice’s experience in taking the In This Together (ITT) course on basic facilitation
The ninth and final class of the course focused on enjoying our roles as facilitators. We started with a reminder that facilitators do well to consider the old wisdom that a little praise goes a long way! Positivity and praise open up the facilitator to really enjoying their role and the relationships that it attracts.
At the same time as facilitator, we need to be aware that fun can look and feel different in different cultures and we need to be sensitive to that (especially in this day of uber-political correctness).
After Diane reviewed the prior eight sessions of the ITT course, with a short review on the Feedback session, she reminded us that giving and receiving feedback is always a choice. One choice is for the potential recipient to decline the exchange at this time. “Not right now” can be a response that gives the them space and time to consider possibilities for the future.
As facilitators of change, we must always be aware that what and how we speak, act, relate and create impacts other people with more weight than peer responders. Keeping in mind the developmental frame (of expanding circles of care) helps us to facilitate with cutting edge awareness. We can use this “uneven” relationship to offer positive feedback so that the other person can “take it in” and develop some confidence and freedom. This may motivate them to receive “hard stuff”.
Diane admitted that Americans like to enjoy themselves (and then some!). This can add levity to many situations – but it also risks seeming superficial to those from different cultures and other points of view. (For example, many Canadians are often accused of being too sober and not fun-loving and tend to have a more ironic sense of humour – perhaps the influence of the dry sense of humour characteristic of their English and Scottish heritage?)
Whatever the culture, a good sense of humour gives the facilitator the ability to laugh at him/herself, which can open the doors to laughing with each other.
Paradoxically the capacity for the facilitator to walk into the fire where things are painful and we are willing to be with the pain and help others be with the pain, can actually increase the pleasure that can arise when we re-frame the situation with a sense of humour.
In concluding this session, we considered the role of enjoyment and humour in the work place depends on the work place culture. Sometimes the expectation for discipline and task orientation can give rise to fear that humour may somehow prevent work from being done.
Discovering how to add levity can often involve finding a metaphor that resonates with the work place or community culture (like an accountant (such as this blogger) who refers to themselves as a bean counter in a community who has dozens of different recipes for borscht, or minestrone; or a city being renamed a human hive so it can be explored as a beehive).
What was the ITT IC homework?
With this being the last of the classes in the ITT course, Diane did not give us homework. However, the Integral City learning pod convened a week before the last class and shared with the larger IC Community of Practice (CoP) what the value of participating in the course had been. We used the same 3-step framework as our earlier calls.
1. What did we experience in participating in the ITT course?
We had chosen to participate in ITT for multiple reasons:
- To see how the course related to IC facilitation expectations and practice.
- To experience the Zoom technology.
- To understand how Ten Directions designed the course through multiple stages from promotion to conclusion.
- To appreciate how the Ten Directions team worked together and with students.
- To learn together as a collective and bring new pollen back for our IC human hive mind.
IC participants were at first surprised that the ITT course did not seem to be explicit training for facilitators. However, we quickly realized that each class addressed a basic skill for facilitating. Even those amongst us considered that they were highly skilled facilitators valued the in-depth review of the 8 basic skills. We all agreed that ITT training was a corollary to our IC work in other places (and planes, like systemic constellation work).
We experienced the Zoom technology as flexible and satisfying. We had the privilege of learning with Diane Hamilton and the Ten Directions (TD) team how to create an online habitat for a class of 120 people connected by video (and/or phone). We all agreed both the technology at the TD team worked very well.
The TD team not only included Diane Hamilton but a technology coordinator (Alana Felt), a host (Laura Tenney) and a strong group of facilitator expert/anchors (Cindi Lou Golin, Rebecca Colwell, +++).
Our IC students agreed that the IC addition of the homework class to the ITT course added significant value to our learning. When we convened weekly after practising the ITT homework and sharing our experience through the What/So What/Now What lenses of Action Research, we were able to ground the learning and build both individual and collective skills (and therefor capacity). In doing so we employed many of the IC Intelligences – Integral, Individual, Collective, Inquiry, Navigating, Evolutionary.
In terms of the learning cycle we found participating in the ITT class, followed by our homework experience reinforced a cycle of differentiation and integration that reinforced our learning. We also notice that each class built on the others preceding it and gave us both practice in individual skills and cumulative connections amongst them; e.g. linking intentions, listening and asking questions.
We remarked on the value of Diane and other ITT students sharing personal experiences. That brought real aliveness to the course and the modelling of facilitation. Moreover, we all admired Diane’s mastery of listening attentively, re-phrasing what she heard, asking clarifying questions, sharing pertinent and poignant example and demonstrating vulnerability that built trust and respect. We could see that Diane’s transmission as a Zen master enabled students to grow trust and transition to new levels of capacity as facilitators.
Our CoP recognized that sharing personal stories (practising another IC Intelligence of Storytelling) automatically invites listeners to connect to the story and find a way into relating to the story. Such personal sharing allows the layers (of defences, resistance, fears, negative emotions) to come off because a story that reveals courage, primal responses and poignant feelings invites further profound sharing and collective experience. Bridges can be built story by story.
Finally, when we shared on the monthly CoP call what we gained from the course we had the experience of bees bringing pollen back to the hive and feeding everyone in the CoP – not just those who had taken the ITT course.
2. So What does the ITT Course have to do with Integral City practice or training?
We learned much that we could incorporate into Integral City training.
- We agreed that ITT was an excellent example and mode for IC facilitators to gain mastery in the basics of facilitation. We also appreciated the design and style of delivery (a combination of the very personal and very professional).
- Our own use of Zoom (for homework and CoP calls) was reinforced by the experience of Zoom as a delivery vehicle for ITT. We are motivated to learn more.
- In thinking about our IC “on ramp” of training we wondered if we could partner with Ten Directions and work with their team? We will check this out.
- Our experience with ITT gave new energy and enthusiasm for proceeding with IC training in 2017.
3. Now What will we do as a result, participating in the ITT course?
As a result of our experience with the ITT Course we agreed:
- The IC on-ramp of training shows a Green light to proceed in 2017. We should move ahead.
- We will link our on-ramp courses to IC Book 1 and the forthcoming Book2 adding value through integrating their knowledge base with the IC on-ramp trainings.
- We plan to connect with Ten Directions and explore collaborations.
- We celebrate the cycle of learning through transmission, trust and transition – a sure source of amplifying the enjoyment factor in facilitating and feeding each other in the human hive!