Last month I had the pleasure of leading two workshops with similar groups. The innovative format of these workshops looks like this:
My client, a true visionary in her field, presents thought provoking information to people who work within her field, in organizations around the US. Then I lead activities to support the audience in deepening their understanding of the information by connecting it to their own experiences. Then my client presents more information and I follow up with another activity. Rinse, repeat. Then, in the spirit of continual learning, at the conclusion of the workshop we ask everyone fill out a brief evaluation. Then my client and I sit together and debrief the sessions in detail, highlighting and dissecting what went well, what could have been better and what we learned. When I worked in politics we called it a post-mortem. The military calls it an After Action Review. Call it Sally if you will, the point is to learn from past experiences and perform better during the next go around.
My client and I are conducting these workshops around the nation, and while each group is slightly different, they have a similar function within their sector. Aside from the thrill of working with my client, traveling, and connecting with some incredible people helping solve some of the largest issues in every corner of our globe, I love that this format provides the opportunity for continual reflection and updating of our workshop design.
With a strong collaborative partner and an iterative workshop, we are able to look at the details that make, break, support, dilute, energize, optimize and generate a great workshop. By reviewing the evaluations and debriefing, we are learning more and more about our audience, our process and how to make a bigger impact. As a results, each session is better than the last. With candid feedback, each session helps the next be more impactful.
As I sit here reflecting on the work we accomplished and reviewing my notes, I find myself chuckling at the plethora of question marks and words that start with “W.” Why was there a lack of energy in this activity? What questions would further deepen participants connection to the content? Who is the best person to introduce the next exercise? Where did the time go? I could continue, but I think you get the point. In the words of my client, “Stay Curious!”
Reflection, introspection, and consideration are vital to honing any craft. Incorporating the feedback from my workshop participants, my clients and myself is essential. The deeper I dive into understanding the nuances of a successful--and sometimes not so successful--process, the more I continue to learn, improve, and expand my impact.