Enquiring together - philosophically, appreciatively, creatively
I had such a great time at #Facilitate2023 - beyond what I could have reasonably hoped. Not only was the England & Wales conference of the International Association of Facilitators a friendly and welcoming community, but I learned A LOT and was even given a turning point insight to my own development as a facilitator.
Philosophical Enquiry #P4C
I'd never been to an IAF event before but even so - taking my usual 'classic-Rosie' approach to life - I offered a workshop. I was so glad it got programmed for the first morning, because my nerves and focus were distracting from the other elements of the conference - such as talking to anyone!
Thankfully, as a first step, people came to it. In fact there were more people who wanted to come than there were spaces, and I had a minor developmental learning process in dealing with this. [Summary: remember it's ok to expect people to take their own responsibility in a situation..]
Even so, we were a fairly big group and it's always a bit nerve-wracking delivering to your peers. But I'm assured in my practice these days and I really enjoyed getting people thinking and talking together, agreeing and disagreeing to find the bigger thinking that emerges when we explore what we really mean. Philosopical enquiry is a simple but powerful method for stimulating fruitful discussions and once again it showed it's beauty. 'Elegant' someone said, and I think that's a fair description.
These are the concepts that arose from the stimulus and the questions the groups came up with. 'Does choice free us?' was the one selected, and although I can't recount everything that was said, I will say that people changed their minds! Always a good sign of a rich discussion.
With my workshop done I was free to #participate rather than #facilitate and it was a great joy to join in. Among other things, I learned about refillable flipchart pens, visual note-taking and working with metaphor, Ecocycle Planning, being more sustainable, taking a playful approach and how other people approach pricing. And in the Appreciative Inquiry session I had a revelatory experience for my future development.
I've known about Appreciative Inquiry for years, but somehow I've never actually participated in a session. It's pretty elegant too. A simple four stage model, that includes thinking back to past success and engaging some creative play. This is the model for me!
In the creative play part I decided to make a house of cards structure with the image cards used for the welcoming warm up.
Doing this brought me a series of deep understandings about how I want to develop my facilitation business. As the image shows, the top cards - by coincidence rather than design - have a picture of a fire and a game of chess. This gave me the perfect description of what I'm working with: my passion for facilitation and philosophical enquiry, which I want to harness with a strategic approach. The process of building the structure also reflected a key point for personal development: go with your creative instinct, you don't have to ask for permission.
The other big experience of the conference, of course, was meeting all these new people with a shared interest in facilitation. It was so heartening to have all kinds of creative conversations about facilitation, business development and life. I arrived thinking that I didn't know anyone and left with the feeling of having found my tribe. A community where I will be both nurtured and challenged for growth.
Thank you to everyone who made #Facilitate2023 happen and enabled me to be there.