Traditional Western art and literature don’t wander much. On the whole we’re a pretty goal-oriented culture. But in the East, there’s a rich tradition of cyclical and labyrinthine works of art … they (Japanese comics) so often emphasis being there over getting there.
As facilitators, that’s what we need to encourage — being there over getting there!
Far too often does the “get on with it” ghost appear out of nowhere, demanding that we ‘cut to the chase’. After all, ‘time is money’. These types of messages are also reinforced by the mass media, suggesting that successful people “just do it” and that the frantic pace of modern life requires us to be efficient and economical.
But efficient and effective are two entirely different things.
It never ceases to amaze me, how — in this quest for efficiency — we (I say we, as I too have been guilty of this) lose sight of our humanity, attending meetings or working in groups without ever really connecting with others in the room as human beings. Instead, we tend to go about our ‘business’ like robots or machines: mechanical and routine. Rarely — one could argue — is this effective. In this Dilbertesque world how do we achieve anything meaningful?
Well, we need to learn how to wander more, individually and collectively. So, when planning meetings or events for effective collaboration, don’t underestimate the need for people to feel ‘safe’, to explore and to have a sense of belonging before they are really willing to share and contribute.
That’s why good facilitators use appropriate icebreakers, warmups, energizers, or whatever you might like to call them — those activities for getting groups going. Whilst a lot of people might cringe at the thought of doing something ‘silly’, it is really important to do. People need time to connect, relate, to understand each other, and these types of activities can kick-start that process, as long as the activity is appropriate for the context. For example: a group of alpha males in a business setting is going to require a different approach to a mother’s support group!
If the group has assembled with the ultimate goal of solving a problem, or getting something done — then by all means it should get on with that task — but only after some time to enjoy fellowship in order to bind their experience.
Remember, it’s all about the journey, not the destination. So enjoy the ride!
About Daryl Cook