Building a New Program – Together

Consultants as Catalysts for ChangeIt is no secret that programs are more effective when the people who will be impacted by those programs are the ones to help build them. And it makes logical sense that the time to engage folks in dialogue about a new program is not at the program’s formal coming-out party, but at the moment of the conception of the idea!

And so last month, when we debuted a brand new workshop in Los Angeles, we had first asked for help in developing it. We then performed the workshop, videotaping it and sharing those videos via YouTube.

Having tested the workshop and thought about it after that debut, we are now in a position to consider what it would take for the workshop to be as effective as possible. And we hope you will join us to figure out just what that will take!

Workshop: Background
The workshop is a 3 hour version of our
week-long Immersion Course, Consulting to Create the Future. Back in August, when we began planning for this workshop, we asked for input at Twitter and Facebook, and at this post at Creating the Future’s blog. Here are the questions we posed in all those places:

• What is the highest potential outcome for a 3-hour workshop, Consulting that Creates the Future?
• What could be different after the workshop is done – for the participants, for their clients, for their communities?
• What results could we aim to achieve for participating consultants? For their clients? For their communities?

From the responses, the following became our desired outcomes for the workshop:

• In general, we aimed at participants being more conscious of seeing themselves as catalysts for community change. We aimed at having them see their potential and be excited by it.
• We also aimed at participants both being eager to practice what they had learned, and having concrete tools and approaches they could try out.
• Lastly, we wanted those with whom the workshop more deeply resonated to go beyond just trying out what they learned; we wanted them to be excited to learn more, to go deeper into what is possible when we change how we see things.

From there, we had the task of narrowing 5 days of topics down to 3 hours. Here is what we settled upon:

1) Practice in listening for what is possible vs. what is wrong.
2) Practice in creating an environment of possibility.
3) Practice with reverse engineering – problem solving vs. reaching for what’s possible.

We crafted a promotional flyer (located here, if you would like to see the real thing), that told participants they would experience the following:

• Experience new ways of seeing and framing your work, moving beyond problem-solving to reach for your clients’ highest potential for improving their community.
• Discover the power of questions to engage the wisdom that is already in the room.
• Learn how to practice “compassionate listening” – and what to do with what you hear!
• Experience how reflection and modeling can reinforce new knowledge, to create new behaviors.
• Be energized by the shared wisdom of other consulting practitioners passionate about social change.

Approximately two dozen consultants participated in the workshop. After the event, we followed up with an email providing additional information and resources based on questions and suggestions made during the session.

Moving Forward
And so my questions are as follows:

1) To those in attendance, what portions of the workshop (and follow-up information) helped further the difference you had hoped the workshop would make for you?
2) Is there anything you learned that you have already incorporated into your work – and would you share with us what happened?
3) What stood out for you? What surprised you?
4) How could we improve the class, to better aim at the difference you had hoped the course would make?
5) What else? Is there anything we haven’t asked here, that we should have asked?

And for those who were not at the workshop, we would love your thoughts about what we are trying to accomplish. (A sneak preview is in the video below!)

5 Responses to Building a New Program – Together
  1. Kim
    October 17, 2010 | 8:27 pm

    So here’s what I’ve heard from folks who attended:

    1) That the material was much more engaging in workshop format than in writing, and its implications were better understood in this format, too. Some folks suggested not to ask to read the book before hand as the take-aways were stronger from the workshop.

    2) Still some debate about the timing of introductions

    3) Really enjoyed getting to talk and share with other consultants; that opportunity is rare.

    4) Liked the modeling of the reverse engineering, reflections at the end

    5) larger space

  2. Hildy Gottlieb
    October 18, 2010 | 11:18 am

    This is really helpful, Kim – thanks! And if there is debate about the content of the workshop, we consider that a good thing! (Big part of the difference between learning tools and tips vs. learning a way of being, the thought processes we bring to our work…)

    I would love to hear from folks who attended if anything has stood out for them as they reflect on the workshop several weeks later.

    And I would love to hear about their experience in applying what they learned.

    And I guess lastly (for now) I would love to know how close you and they feel we got to achieving our own goals (as noted above).

    Thanks so much for hosting this “beta test” event, Kim – we’re excited to learn from it and keep moving forward!
    HG

  3. Candace
    October 19, 2010 | 12:57 pm

    I am new to the field and am not working directly with clients in this capacity so it is difficult for me to answer some of the questions. What really stood out to me in your delivery of the material, in both the workshop and The Pollyanna Principles, is your use of examples. They really helped to concretize key points and principles. Similarly, role-playing with workshop participants was very effective in showing us a “different way of being with clients.” I personally thought the book was a nice complement to the workshop and am glad I had read it beforehand.

  4. Kristin Maschka
    October 30, 2010 | 4:19 pm

    The most powerful parts for me were watching the modeling of asking the questions and how the conversation unfolded and energy flowed as a result, and having the opportunity to interact with others doing similar work – a very rare opportunity. I thought it was a good balance between delivering content/modeling content and opportunity for participants to interact with each other. If one of the hopes is to help people consider the value of the weeklong immersion, I think it would be helpful to share with people how the immersion extends/goes beyond this experience. I would agree that reading the book wasn’t necessary in advance – an article may have been enough to set the stage.

    I haven’t incorporated much yet. I’ve found myself asking the “What would that make possible?” question. I think I still need to play with how this fits in with my own practice – which rarely starts at the beginning of this type of conversation, often starts in the middle. And how to bring people along to the importance of the vision part of the conversation.

    Thanks!

    Kristin

  5. Carmen Bunde
    November 2, 2010 | 6:59 pm

    So looking forward to the workshop Hildy! This is good stuff and terrific timing for Omaha and Lincoln!

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