Remember These Three Things

When I facilitate groups, I remember that there is always a story under the story. It’s a purpose story. It’s a simplicity story. It may not be an explicit description of the event or gathering, but it is often the anchoring story that I depend on.

  1. Connect — I often name this as our first steps together. To connect the people in the room. To help them show up with one another. After some context-setting introduction, often this first connection for me is a series of short partner conversations (speed dates). 2-3 minutes with 4-5 different partners can do wonders to begin a pattern of connection that can then amplify to more connections over the longer length of time together.

    As my friend Meg taught early, “if you want a system to be healthy, connect it to more of itself.”

    Works with groups.
  2. Learn — This is what arises out of our connection. Learning that can be so much more fulfilling. So much more productive. So much more integrated. When relationship is established and activated, then more rich, honest, and timely learning can take place. Often for me this is a World Cafe format. Again, there is much wonder in small group conversations that invite learning, noticing, wondering.

    Further from Meg, again learned early, “who we are together is different and more than who we are alone.”

    It goes for learning in groups too — what we learn together is different and more than what we learn alone.
  3. Experiment — From such connection and such learning, well, these are primary conditions for more meaningful experiments together. Sometimes as simple as a long overdue, needed conversation. Sometimes a question engaged together. Sometimes a project imagined or refreshed in purpose. I rely on Open Space Technology as a format for this. It’s powerful to have participants name the topics they wish to explore and then self-select to groups in which they wish to contribute.

    One more time from Meg that she attributes learning to her mentor Marvin Weisbord, “What is possible here? And who cares?”

    What a potent thing to restore a group commitment to experiment.


Connect. Learn. Experiment.

I love working with groups in such simple story. The specific format for such can, and should, vary for unique circumstances and group composition. But this story — these three things to remember — I find this sticks so often. It invites people into attention and memory, and well, joy, of what matters most to so many human beings.

Interested? Let’s connect (and learn, and experiment).

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