Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Ideas that spark and take life

This is the third blog of this current series describing some of our experience in meeting and event facilitation. We're focusing on how to foster and encourage those spaces and times when groups find their creativity together, spark off each other and generate ideas that are entirely new or re-visions of current thinking. It seems such an obvious and straightforward process, and there are gazillions of relevant approaches and methods in resources like the KS toolkit. We suggested some ideas of our own when we first blogged about this phase in an event. But all too often the post-it notes are written up (or photos shared) only for the energy to dissipate and the promising ideas to wither in the storm of everyday pressures. The challenge is to create an environment that provides the best chance for the most realistic or promising ideas to take life beyond the event.

Time, time, time - just give me a little more time

The challenge can be envisaged in three parts. The first is the process of engaging and energising participants in creative ideas generation. Many of us find we do our best thinking and reflection in the moments when there's nothing much going on - in the shower, out walking or on a long journey. One of the reasons that generating ideas is a relatively easy task is that meetings and events are a luxury in most people's lives, especially if they have a facilitator 'holding' the process. Once people find that time is allocated to simply thinking and being creative with other smart and committed people, they usually relish the opportunity.

Climate Change and Social Learning project workshop on evidence gathering

We get energy and inspiration when the question or issue has heart and meaning. The Human Centred Design approach starts with an exploring situation and issue through the experience of the people most affected, and through this clarifying the critical question. Asking ' how might we ... ' becomes the launch pad to generate tons of ideas - 'ideation', in short - when nothing's ruled out. At this stage, the facilitator's role is to create a creative positive space, and provide a simple structure for ideas to emerge. You'll also be managing the materials, displays and documentation, and perhaps providing examples from elsewhere. Ideo have a fantastic resource, with lots of ideas. Note that facilitators are the default provider of simple or fancy stationary so we all have our standard travel kit, like this one.

[Graphic Facilitation, as well as examples illustrating other ways to encourage and support idea generation are described in the remainder of this blog from the FacilitationAnywhere site]

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