Herramientas y recursos

In past November I was in Frankfurt running a seminar on facilitation for the pool of coaches of the Ckimate KIC. It was a quick seminar of 4 hours only with the time to pay  a visit to the basics on this art of facilitating: the interior condition of the facilitator, the four perspectives to pay attention to (context, people, process and goal) and some tricks and tips to better design and run any kind of workshops.

We also had the opportunity of experiencing some of the methods and reflect on them, their effectiveness, etc.

At the end of the workshop, as it usually happens, I got a handful of questions about resources to use in workshops and to further explore and learn: books, Websites, courses… Because this is a repeated request I get after almost any workshop, I have decided to write a post about my favourite resources.  Facilitate meetings and workshops requires multiple skills and varied knowledge encompassing different fields and disciplines. Indeed, depending on your specialization you should know about business modelling, creativity and ideation, complex systems and problems, etc. Due to this variability I’m not going to open an exhaustive list of the many different topics and areas that can be useful for a facilitator at any moment. On the contrary, I’m going to keep the focus on three or four general topics, that I consider  essential. You will find beneath some literature references, tools and Websites. Hope you find them interesting and useful and help you to brush up  your own performance.

I have Skipped out some other topics  such as Business modelling, storytelling and public speaking, creativity or Lego Serious Play, despite their importance. They all are actually interesting but more narrow and specific, and probably they would require one single post each. Let’s leave it for a future post.

SOMETHING TO READ

The Change Handbook
One of the most comprehensive collections of participatory and group discussion methods. In this second edition, the authors gather together more than 60 methods adapted to different circumstances and goals. From planning, to supporting or improving processes. For me, a basic book to review every now and then. If you want explore deeper in some of the methods, then you might want to order some of the books on the World Café, Appreciative Inquiry or Open Space methods, jut to mention some of the most used and effective.
The Art of Powerful Questions
Juanita Brown, one of the authors of the well-known methodology World-Café and others, writhe this short handbook about the art of asking powerful questions in your workshops or any other moment in your life. They define what a powerful question looks like and provide numerous examples of how a simple question made a huge change in real life… including business life. I love this handbook because is short and cut to the chase, but you might opt for other longer books exploring the art of powerful questions, such as this, this and this last.
Strategic Play: The Creative Facilitator’s Guide
A perfect book to learn tools and exercises to merge together serious play and workshop facilitation. You will find methods and games to run introductory sessions, to go deeper into the topic, to close sessions, etc. Authors also give a quick review of some tricks and tips to design workshops and deal with people… especially difficult people. Other books more focused on the facilitation work can be found here, here, here and here.
Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills
An interesting resource to pull out of your hat, when you don’t have other ideas to boost energy and creativity in any workshops. Especially oriented to design thinking workshops, the exercises can also be put in place in many other set-ups related to innovation, creativity, etc.
Gamestorming. A playbook for innovators, rulebrakers and change makers.
If you are looking for a set of tools ready to apply in different contexts, from meetings, to workshops or just ideation sessions, this is one good option.

With more than 80 visual tools, some originals and some brought from other authors, this book can get you out of more than one difficult situation while running a workshop or facilitating a meeting. Of course, there are many other books addressing this topic of tools and games, such as this or this … just try your owns and settle on which better fits your specific needs.

101 Design Methods: A Structured Approach for Driving Innovation in Your Organization
If your field of action is more innovation oriented, then this book can be highly useful for your purpose. It approaches the practice of creating new products, services, and customer experiences as a science, rather than an art, providing a practical set of collaborative tools and methods for planning and defining successful new offerings. In terms of number of methods this is a bulletproof option. More options here, here
Visual Meetings: How Graphics, Sticky Notes and Idea Mapping Can Transform Group Productivity
As facilitator, you will find you many times, having to sketch out a big canvas on the wall, or to conceive a visual way to better engage participants. David Sibbet explains how anyone can implement powerful visual tools, and how these tools are being used in business world.
Blah Blah Blah: What To Do When Words Don’t Work
For me, one of the best authors on visual communication and perhaps the best book I’ve read about this: simple, understandable and utterly practical. You feel you can do it just making use of the resources and abilities at your hand. After going though it you might want to go on with some of his other books… or dive deeper into this discipline with some of the other suggestions.
The Sketchnote Handbook: the illustrated guide to visual note taking
For those who want to further explore the passionate world of visual thinking and sketchnoting, here you have an inspiring option. The Handbook is plenty of examples that go along with the step-by-step explanations and techniques, explained for the author. A recommendable option for beginners who feel like going deeper. You can also try his workbook or any of these books also covering the topic by actually experienced authors:  Sunni Brown, Brandy Agerbeck.

 

SOMETHING TO EXPERIENCE

Points of you
This is one of the various coaching oriented picture cards in the market (here, here, here  and here you can see others). All of them take advantage of the metaphoric thinking and how the use of visuals can boost our imagination, creativity and make it easier discussions on difficult and deep topics. What I like the most of this resource is the collection of tools that come with the two decks of cards that you can use as inspiration for your different interventions. For me, this is a must.
Group Works deck
An interesting resource that will help you to design workshops, better understand group dynamics and play different games and activities. The Group Works deck of 100 full-colour cards (91 patterns + 9 category cards) names what skilled facilitators and other participants do to make things work. The cards were created by more than fifty volunteers and you can download them for free, order a printed copy or use the App version.
Story Cubes
An amazing tool to elicit stories and to open conversations. More useful with one-to-one interventions it can also be easily used with groups and different contexts. As the picture cards, I believe it should be another must in the facilitator’s hat.
LEGO® Bricks
I love using the LEGO® Serious Play® methodology, but in this case I’m not talking about it. By LEGO® bricks I mean literally using random bricks to run teambuilding, introductory, coordination or any other type of activities. The fact of building up 3D artifacts brings out different abilities than other tools and it is highly involving.

And of course, never forget some physical resources such as some string, balls, straws, papers… or even tent poles… there are plenty of exercises and dynamics you can come up and run on the fly, as long as you can draw on your own box with some of this resources. As facilitator is your responsibility to be equipped with those resources you consider you can resort to them at any moment to unravel a tuck situation in a workshop or just to keep the flow.

SOMEWHERE TO VISIT

The internet is plenty of sites with multiple resources whatever you are looking for Because  the distance between you and your favourite sites is only a couple of typing  I have included some examples to inspire you in your own search.

Mindtools

A website with an immense database of methods and tools. Initially oriented to business strategizing you will find many tools that can be applied to your own workshops. Some of them are ready to use and other only will require a minor adaptation to your goals and context. Leadership Skills, Team Management , Strategy Tools (129),Problem Solving , Decision Making, Communication Skills or Creativity are some of the topics addressed by the database.

Workshopbank

Another database of methods and tools, in this case much more oriented to the art of facilitation. You can download presentations and instructions for many of the exercises.

Rhizome

Resources to design and run workshops to build consensus and better conversations: Open space, consensus decisions, active listening…

Tastycupcakes

Agile and innovation games to include in your workshops. Team building, making decisions… An interesting bunch of explained methods.

Some methods’ sites

The world café, Appreciative inquiry, Open Space,
Some international organization sites. International Institute for facilitation and change, International Association of facilitators, International Association of Teamwork facilitators,

 

Hope you have found interesting the resources listed in this blog and have sparked curiosity to find out much more. In any event, remember that facilitation is like surfing, you can read how to do it, but to learn how to facilitate you have to get the board and ride the wave of workshops. Always open eyed and ready to learn from the emergent future, from the next wave .coming up

Good luck in your next challenge!