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    Entries in facilitation (39)

    Wednesday
    Nov282018

    This is the era of ease

    This is the era of ease.

    The world of work has changed. If you're a leader, you need to be more collaborative, able to help a group of individuals play to their strengths and get great work done.

    You need to be able to make the workplace safe for them to be themselves. And to be able to bring them together, to remove barriers, roadblocks and obstacles to their progress - not create them.

    This is a bigger role than just you and your title, your package, ego or status. You'll need to bring empathy, great listening skills, clever questioning capabilities and the ability to chill the %$#& out - to stop being so driven, anxious and intense.

    'Facilitation' means ease, to make easier. Today's world of work needs you to be a leader who makes things easier. That's making progress, meetings, problem-solving, conversations, influence, starting and finishing things - all easier.

    Help make it all easier. This is the era of ease.

    Wednesday
    Feb082017

    The 'triple threat' work skills for the future

    Trying to make sense of the ongoing changes in the world seems like a tough ask sometimes; as soon as you’ve got your head around one shift or change ... ‘thud’, along comes another, and then another. This is the world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity (VUCA) after all. 

    So what are we to do? 

    And the emphasis is on ‘do’. We can’t just sit and wait things out. Mind you, pointless ‘doing’ isn’t too helpful either. 

    With the big world, your work world and your own world undergoing constant shifts, tweaks, adjustments and aftershocks, there are some critical work skills that will do you well - both now and the future. There's machine learning, artificial intelligence and more VUCA so you’ll need something that’s sharp and has staying power in your backpack or the often-quoted “toolkit” to ride this out ...and keep on riding. 

    The Institute for the Future and the World Economic Forum release details on what they think you’ll need for the future. Add to that what I’m thinking and seeing when I’m working with business, and yes, there’s a dose of Sensemaking capability needed.

     

    What’s the triple threat?

    The ‘triple threat’ isn’t about the world’s demise - though with some changes recently, it could well head that way sooner than we were planning! 

    Triple threat: it's the three powerful skills I think will make you a sure thing for better thinking, more useful solutions and a stronger bias for action… no matter what happens with the evolution of work. 

     

    Why a triple? 

    An actor who’s known as a triple threat is a threat because they can do more than just act. They can sing and dance and act. They’re more of a threat to succeed and get a wider range of gigs than the single domain expert who’s a great singer but… or acts well but can’t do much more. Nothing wrong with focusing on acting -- or any domain -- but having a couple of other domains of expertise in your kitbag will simply take your further, for longer. 

    Football players (catch, pass and kick) or cricketers (bat, bowl and field) or netballers (shoot, pass and defend) who are triple threats are indomitable. They’re everywhere. They’re higher profile. They deliver greater value. They’re truly indispensable. And they’re probably feeling super-fulfilled too. Imagine using all that talent in so many areas and doing all much good, bringing that much value. 

     

    Distributed -- not diluted

    While deep expertise is ace, some transferability or ‘neo-generalism’ as Kenneth Mikkelsen and Richard Martin in 'The Neo-Generalist - Where you go is who you are’ explain... is the thing. It’s my favourite book of the moment. It speaks of the ability to be a specialist and a generalist. To ‘traverse multiple domains’ and ‘live between categories and labels’; now that’s a winner in my eyes.  

    With triple threat work skills under your belt for the future, you’re more able to cross disciplines and blend opportunities that might have passed the single domain expert by. You're able to combine, mix and cross-pollinate what you learn from one area/gig/field/job/contract/experience... and apply it in another.

    Steven Johnson in ‘Where good ideas come from’ calls this looking for ‘the adjacent possible’ ... and it has a dose of his ‘serendipity’ about it too. As he unpacks seven of the innovative spaces and places where good ideas come from, you can see how having more than one domain of expertise is like capability on steroids! 

     

    The triple threat of work skills for the future

    The triple threat work skills for the future? 

    I think you’ve got to wonder, think and then do something with what you find out. 

    Sing, dance and act. 

    Bat, bowl and field. 

    Shoot, pass and defend. 

    At work, it's curiosity, ingenuity and creativity.

    It looks like this... all bright and breezy: 

     

    Curiosity is to wonder.

    It’s about questioning. What’s going on? It’s a facilitation of a diverse conversation and dialogue. It’s about scanning, listening, reading, absorbing. Hmmmmm!

     

    Ingenuity is to solve.

    It’s about thinking. More deeply. It’s connecting dots. What does this mean? It’ssensemaking. Looking back, working out what’s needed next. Coming up with plausible solutions and ideas. Ahaaaa!

     

    Creativity is... to create.

    Of course it is! But not arty painting - unless that's what you're doing! This future work skill is for making, shipping, delivering, doing. It’s about the hack. Get it done. Tick! 

    The Triple Threat of Work Skills for the Future are: Curiosity. Ingenuity. Creativity

     

    These are a triple threat because they are adaptable, flexible and transportable.

    They encourage you to be open to different perspectives and they create conditions to wonder what the heck is going on… and to respond, to work out 'what are we gonna do about it.' Oh, and then actually do it!

    Don’t just wonder. Don’t just think.

    Finish the game, the play, the third act and get into action.

    Do.

    Then you’ll be able to wonder again, think some more and put some more things into practice. 

    Go you triple threat you!

    Monday
    Dec192016

    Review and Reflect ... alone or with the team

     

    The end of the calendar year brings many people to the point of wrapping things up, reviewing the year that's been and thinking about the year ahead. 

    (That is... if you can break from the cray-cray of deadlines hitting before holiday time or having less people in your team or on the task than you'd like!)
     
    Whatever your state of mind - and work - this week and the next few,  I've collected a few resources for you to review, reflect, read and ponder... when you're ready.

    If not now, bookmark and save for when you're travelling, waiting, distracting yourself or wanting some insight.


    thinking
    I love me a visual map; and many a group or team I've worked with have benefited from being able to capture their story, the facts, their issues or the current situation too.

    Once it's down on paper (or digital) they're able to see it. Once they can all see it, it's remarkable how quickly resolutions and fixes present themselves in the conversation. It's also way quicker to get people together and focused on something. 

    Here's one I prepared earlier! For you. 



    I use this type of map and the headings of 'Less Same More' in workshops and keynotes to help people get actions down from their thinking and ideas. (This handles overwhelm and chaos well too!)

    What do you want more, less or the same of...?

    • LESS: stop or drop this stuff. Wind back, remove and reduce it.
    • SAME: keep on truckin', keep going, keep moving with this stuff.
    • MORE: ramp it up, do more of this, get or have more of this. 


    This is about you  - what do you want less, same or more of in your life, in your work. It can relate to anything at all. 

    Fill in the spaces. I use dot points or key words to prompt me and capture my ideas. It becomes my personal visual plan and idea collection place just like a 'plan on a page'. It then goes up on the wall in my office or in digital/photo form on my phone. 
     
    Oh and there's a cheeky light bulb on the bottom right. I call that:

    • AND, dot dot dot :... it's a little like 'How about this?' as if you were pitching to some big-time investor or director. What are some random, hopeful or dreamy things that would be interesting to look at or pursue further? Capture them right there.


    Use this page with the team. Or use it alone. Perhaps with a partner or friend or the family. Chilled out one Sunday afternoon, fill it out. Kicking off a project with a new team, get them to tell you what they want more, less and same of.

    It's a great way to review, it's a sweet start to planning; it's an even better conversation starter.

    For all the times you think you can't get engagement with people, ask them to jot a few points down under each heading and you can have a conversation from there.  

    Review, reflect and then do something with this and the other resources here, below. In your own time....

     

    Monday
    Dec192016

    What's your attitude to facilitation? 

    For many leaders who facilitate, they simply get on and do it. They may not be aware of what they’re doing or what impact it’s having; it just is. They just go ahead and do the best they can with what they know.

    For other leaders, they lose sleep before facilitating a big meeting or planning session or workshop and run scenarios of failure and horror over and over in their mind or they workshop options and possibilities and agenda timings in their head.

    Yet others see their facilitation skill as something to be improved on. I certainly do. The capability is just that; a capability. And it can be improved.

    There is certainly a confidence about facilitation. Often we know we’re not quite ‘there’ with our confidence but we’re willing to keep putting ourselves out there and continuing to learn, develop and grow as a facilitator, as a leader. 

    Stepping up the Ladder of Capability

    Here’s what I think this path to improving your capability in facilitation at work looks like. It’s like moving up a ladder. 

    There are two halves:

    1.   where you avoid facilitation and are questioning yourself and your capability; and

    2.  where you engage, where you are questioning others (in a good way), as a facilitation technique or style.

    Looking at the avoid half, way down in the depths is the ‘no, don’t make me do it’response. It may be your first experience facilitating, or even an experience earlier this week! In any case, you felt out of your depth, out of control and wishing it wasn’t you at the front of the room in charge of making things happen. You wished it could be anyone but you. It’s the ‘no not me’ scenario. You feel like running away. A dose of fight or flight and you’d prefer to flight, right out the door and into a safer, more comfortable space. If you have the situation of the rotating chair in your workplace, where a different person facilitates the meeting each time, you may have felt this.

    A little higher on the ladder is where you are unsure. You take on the role to facilitate but are wondering ‘why me’. Then possibly while you’re facilitating you’re hesitant, waiting, wondering ‘what is best to do when’ for the outcomes you and the group are seeking.

    Then comes a tipping point… where you shift up and over a hurdle of sorts; where you move from questioning yourself or doubting yourself, to really stepping into the role of questioning others and embracing the role of being of service to what the team needs...so you’re truly facilitating others.

    When you take on the role of a facilitator, a Leader as Facilitator, you do it, but you’re inconsistent. You’re wanting to learn more, to be more aware; you’re wondering ‘what next?’ Imagine you’re deep in the middle of a meeting or workshop and the team is working through a problem. You wonder, ‘Is this it? What else could I be doing to help the group? What’s the best use of my services as a facilitator?’ You decide to ask the group rather than wondering to yourself. You might say, ‘So what next? What do you think is the most important thing for us to address next?’

    With further awareness, learning and experience, you shift up to being capable, to thinking ‘Yes, I’ve got this’.

    I worry though for people who believe they are already here; they already think they've got this. They think they’re pretty good facilitators; they think they know it all and have little left to learn.

    Still others say ‘I’m all ears’ or ‘I’m on a learning curve’ yet they do anything but learn! They’re closed to ideas or have heard it all before… or done it all before.

    Beware! Even the best and most experienced facilitators have more to learn. Always. There is always more to learn, more to be exposed to, more approaches, ways of working, things you can do to support a team or group as a facilitator.

    So it continues. And you move on up to some nirvana of facilitation where you realise all of your good and bad and in-between life experiences contribute to make you a wise and capable facilitator. You say ‘bring it’ and you realise, believe and behave as if you can handle whatever may come. If you don’t know what to do, you know you are at the service of the group or team and together you will know what to do.

    • Where are you on the ladder?
    • What have you experienced?
    • Which levels do you recognize?
    • What’s the next step for you? 

    I'd love to hear your thoughts about facilitation and your attitude to where you are, where you've been or where you'd like to get to.

    Thursday
    Nov102016

    Facilitation for Consultants : 9 things to do

    Building on my recent post about Beyond Being a Consultant, there's a wonderful space for consultants, experts and thought leaders to step into organisations today, and that is in the role of a facilitator. 

    Not just being a clever smarty pants about your expertise, but also helping a team, group, executive, board or gathering of leaders to work through the stuff they need to work through and get to some meaningful outcomes. 

    I see it as a three element thing; when you're facilitating (as a consultant, expert or thought leader), you're helping this group be: 

    • PRODUCTIVE: you help them get stuff done. 
    • COLLABORATIVE: you help bring people together 
    • CREATIVE: you help them do good work.

     

    The 9 things to do

    I see there are nine things to do or questions to answer in being able to think, design and deliver an effective facilitated workshop or session for a client organisation. These things address what you need to engage with a client about facilitating a session, preparing to facilitate, designing the event and handling what happens during - and after - the session. 

    Looks like this ;-)

    Think about these things; ask yourself about them: 

    1. EXPERTISE

    What’s my expertise? What do I bring to working with a group or facilitating a team? What type of sessions could I facilitate? 

    2. NEEDS

    Who are they? What are their needs? How do I best identify their requirements? Where is the 'gap' I can help them close? 

    3. RESPONSE

    What is my response? How do I propose we close the gap? What is my response to their situation? How will I bring my specialist expertise to their situation? What do I do?

    4. OUTLINE

    What does the session look like? What processes will we use and follow? What type of workshop or session will this be?

    5. AGENDA

    Designing the session, in detail. What will happen, when? How will we make best use of the time available? What games, tools, activities and resources are available to us? What will we do when we all come together? 

    6. FACILITATE

    Conducting the session. What will I do on the day of the event? How do I set up the room or space, run the agenda? What things are needed on the day? How do I start things off? 

    7. ADAPT

    The best-laid plans may need to change. Now what? Handling what happens on the day and dealing with unexpected changes. How do I handle how people respond and work in the session? What if...? 

    8. TECHNIQUES

    Tools, Tips, Techniques & Tricks: these are the approaches, the methodologies, the processes that facilitators have up their sleeve. 

    9. BEYOND

    Wrap Ups, conclusions and ‘What Next?': How will I wrap up the day? How do we make sure we achieved something? What could we do next? How do I make sure there is ongoing opportunity for us to work together? What else could I do to support them with their work? 

     

    New to facilitation?

    If you’re new to facilitation as an expert or consultant, it’s a great time to make a clean start. You can begin to add facilitation into your offer to client businesses. If you’re not already getting this type of work, would you like to? If so, you’ll need some contemporary facilitation skills to design the program or session, run it and get the outcomes needed. In this way you’ll get the most out of their time and their investment of getting everyone in the room on the same day.

     

    Already facilitating? 

    If you’re already facilitating, you can always, always enhance your capability, step-up the type and level of work you can deliver and help your clients get even greater impact and outcomes when you work with them. How might you need to think differently? What other processes or approaches or styles would you like to test out in facilitating your expertise with a client? 

     

    It's very now!

    Facilitation is a way of working with teams and groups that's very 'now'; with increasing requirements for teams to be more collaborative, to co-design and co-create things and for a more diverse team to be sitting around a workplace meeting room, the need for facilitators is greater than it's ever been. 

    Helping people get important work done, and done swiftly and creatively are the reasons why I LOVE working as a facilitator and building the facilitation capability of leaders of all sorts. I think it's one of the greatest leadership capabilities - whether you're a leader of a team or a leader in your own business, and particularly if you're a consultant, expert or thought leader. You know stuff that you can help your clients with; adopting a facilitation approach gets them working on it, together. 

    Building Facilitation Skills

    I enjoy supporting consultants, experts and thought leaders to boost their facilitation capability. In most of my facilitation workshops, I run a policy of 'any question at any time' and so there is always that uncertainty about 'what's going to happen' which is present in the room. This is a good thing to get used to. The uncertainty. It's about being less in control and more comfortable, confident, capable. 

    And even more fun than the questions at any time, I make my workshops on facilitation skills a facilitated experience. Yes, that's very 'meta' isn't it; a workshop on facilitation that is actually facilitated. No PowerPoint, no definitions, no yawn-yawn training. That means we co-create the agenda based on what we want to learn or what our challenges are and then we go through and cover off the content. It's more experiential; you get to see (what I think) is contemporary, effective, business-ready facilitation. Things happen in the room with us during the day and so as the facilitator, I have to handle them. This is how you get to see what to do, how you could handle the stuff that happens. This provides you with a 'real life' environment to see and experience great facilitation skills in practice in the room during the program. 

    Read more about the two-day facilitation skills program I run here for consultants, experts and thought leaders.