When you attend Donna Ching’s Facilitative Skills for Collaborative Leaders workshop, be prepared for an intense, practical and fun filled two days session. Since Simon has done an excellent job writing about the workshop and what was covered, I will reflect on my experience going through the workshop, my two takeaways and how I will plan to use the skills I learned at KSDL.
When we arrived at the, Donna purposely covered the walls with flip charts with colorful text. There were six tables for all of us to sit in and naturally most of us in class tend sit with people we were familiar with or work with. At the table, Donna left each of us materials for us to go through during the workshop. The materials included a newly published book that Donna was very excited to share with us. The workshop promptly started at 8:30 and Donna emphasized starting on time. After her introduction, we went around and introduced ourselves with our name, affiliation and our expectations from the workshop. Donna immediately recognize the propinquity effect we had fallen under, meaning similar people tend to group together. She encouraged us to sit with a different group of people after every breaks to allow us to work with different people and learn from each other. There were food and beverages available and we were encouraged to help ourselves throughout the workshop. Donna tried to make the room as comfortable and practical as possible in order for us to learn the skills and techniques that made her one of the most effective facilitators in the state of Hawaiʻi.
Donna conducted her workshop in a timely manner trying to stick to the agenda which is posted on a flip chart in front and center of the room. There were times that we tend to stray away from the schedule, but somehow Donna brought us back on track. She thoroughly covered the content and referenced the book often and had us do a few activities. We were given several meeting scenarios that were cleverly designed to give each one of us a chance to facilitate and record. During our activities Donna went around and observed and at times gave us clues and tips to do better. In the end of the workshop, we reflected on the positives of the workshop as well as suggestions to allow Donna to improve her future workshops. We not only gained the skills and techniques that Donna taught us, we also made new connections with other people in the workshop.
My two big takeaways include:
- My view on what an effective meetings should be, that is to gather the appropriate people and synergistically work toward an outcome greater than each individual's efforts. She emphasized that an effective meeting must start before the meeting with a clear plan.
- An effective meeting is about the content (what) and process (how) and that an effective facilitator can work with the two to come up with an outcome.
Finally, at KSDL we have numerous projects where we work collaboratively and we do have meetings to get an outcome or do check-ins on our progress. By applying the two takeaways I learned, I hope to make the meetings I facilitate very productive and worth the time for everyone involved.