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    Entries in workshops (6)

    Thursday
    Apr252019

    Start with shy

    In meetings, sessions or workshops, why not start as if everyone in the room is shy?

    The MC at the conference who declares after opening housekeeping announcements that everyone needs to ‘go and meet someone you don’t know’ makes me cringe.

    The socially anxious, awkward, introverted, fearful ... and others may just want to run and hide.

    'Don’t make me meet someone just yet.’

    ‘Don’t make me break into a group.'

    'Don't make me look silly.'

    'I just want to run away! (Or at least slip out of the main room and go have a coffee).

     

    We need to build the safety and engagement in rooms, groups, gatherings and meetings and do it better than we are. Stop the rush. Build safety bit by bit, step by step. If the goal is to network, then build towards it. Don’t start with it. It’s all too much, too soon.

    Extroverts and social folks love to get talking, and they will, but plan to start with shy. Start with the shyest person in mind to design your agenda, activities & program.

    Cater to the most introverted people and you'll build the greatest safety from there.

    Pssst, are you shy? How do you like to be engaged and involved in meetings? Like and let me know below.

    Thursday
    Apr252019

    Don’t put anything on the walls.


    Thinking information on a wall is ugly or damages the decor might be good for aesthetic folks, but there’s a lot of pragmatic people who need to see things to make sense of 'em.

    Seeing helps us make sense of what’s happening, why it's happening and what's yet to happen. And it reduces uncertainty and anxiety.

    If there’s nothing visible about the work going on, then is there any work actually going on? It’s like that philosophical statement: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” If our work is hidden in digital files, apps and emails of ‘reply all’, is progress actually happening? Too much information is hidden deep in dungeons, vaults and rabbit holes and it's too complex to work with.

    What’s happening at your workplace: Are you ‘allowed’ to put things on the wall? 

    Friday
    Oct282016

    How to get people to speak up, wrap up and shut up

    In these days of collaboration and co-design, working together and aligning the team… this is an ongoing challenge for people leading teams, groups and running meetings and workshops.

    How to get people to speak up, wrap up and shut up.

    Here’s what I mean...

    When I’m running training on facilitation skills - to help leaders become better facilitators of their people and teams - these three things often crop up as a challenge of being a leader of a team:

    • Speak Up: how do you get people to speak up, to contribute, to be engaged, to speak out and to share the ideas they have
    • Wrap Up: how do you get people to wrap up, to summarise succinctly what their thinking is, what their views and opinions are and to get to the point rather than rambling
    • Shut Up: how do you get people to shut up, to conclude - once they’ve delivered their contribution, we’d often like them to pause and let others speak, or better still, stop and listen to other contributions from around the room. How do you get them to stop talking!?

    Speak up. Wrap up. Shut up. 

    Hmmmm, it sounds a bit harsh really. 

    It’s harsh because we’re making it about ‘them’. We went them to speak up. We want them to wrap up. We want them to shut up.

    If we’re a leader, what can WE do about it?

    It’s not about them because:

    It’s hard to speak up if you don’t feel like you’ll be listened to or you have been interrupted often. It feels like no one will listen to you if you do speak up anyway.

    It’s hard to wrap up if you’re a person who needs to speak to think or says things like 'I’m thinking out loud here’ or you need to talk a bit to work out what you’re actually thinking about. 

    And then it's hard to shut up if people aren’t getting your message or they need you to keep explaining it or they didn’t listen to you the first time around and so you’re having another go trying to get your message to land. 

     

    So while it looks on the surface that if everyone would just speak up, wrap up and then shut up the world would be a wonderful place… there’s more going on here folks. 

     

    Speak Up

    How does a leader facilitating a meeting and leading a team help make the environment great so people feel comfortable speaking up? How are they giving people the opportunity, the time, the space and the ears of the room to deliver their contribution? Most of us have been interrupted by an eager contributor or cut off by someone with a supposedly better idea. I think a Leader as Facilitator helps hold the interrupter at bay and allows the person currently speaking to finish their thing; giving them the space to get their views out there.

    It's not just on THEM to speak up; it’s on you as the leader, as the facilitator of the team to make the environment right for people to want to speak up. 

     

    Wrap Up

    If someone is going on and on and on and not getting to the point, they may need some help articulating their thinking. If you’re a think as you speak person you have what I call a ‘talk track’ ; you need to talk to work out what you think. Maybe your idea is still evolving. In this case you need a Leader as Facilitator who will listen, prompt with clarifying questions or capture your key points so everyone else can see and hear what you mean. You don’t want to be pushed to hurry up and finish - especially if your thinking is still evolving. Maybe you haven’t got to your point yet. To be asked to ‘wrap up’ is pushy.

    It’s not on THEM to wrap up; it’s on you as the Leader as Facilitator to help people articulate what it is they think; to question, probe, clarify and elicit the information out of them. 

     

    Shut Up

    Then once someone is speaking or is contributing their ideas and view, how do we make sure they are heard and understood? Because once they are, they will take a break, they will stop. I think we keep talking or keep trying to raise the same point if we feel no one has listened or really let us know that, yes they have heard us. 

     

    Please don’t think you need to ‘shut someone down’. It sounds a bit violent and it’s pervasive in workplaces. Usually, they haven’t had the opportunity to speak. That is, a 'protected' opportunity to speak, protected from interruption or judgement. Nor have they been heard by the leader or facilitator of the meeting or the team.

    Back off, ease off and let go. Don’t rush to get people to speak up, wind up or shut up.

    Think and work as a facilitator. Adopt the capabilities of a Leader as Facilitator to create a great environment:

    1. Give people time to warm up and contribute 
    2. Give people opportunities that are creative to contribute
    3. Then when they speak, help them articulate their thinking : support them, question them or invite them to share more so you can help everyone understand what they’re saying.

    The environment will be better, you’ll get more done because you’re all able to hear one another. Today’s collaborative, creative and consultative workplaces require it. 

    Friday
    Dec122014

    The Importance of the Start

    'Begin as you intend to continue', or 'start as you mean to go on', are maxims or sayings that I've often heard.

    There's such a great application of this when you start a project, piece of work, a meeting, workshop or strategy session with a team. 

    I cringe when people kick off an inspiring team day or a high value strategic session with this: "So just some housekeeping... the toilets are over there, the wifi password is there and ... blah blah blah"

    Think of how a movie starts. It's usually some scene setting for the whole story or a dramatic exchange that sets up the 'why' of the film. 

    The same goes at work. How you start something sets the scene. It says so much about what is to come. 

    Starting with housekeeping ain't inspiring. Yes it needs to be said, but not in the first few seconds or minutes. 

    Bring some drama, impact, presence and creativity to the scene. Set the scene. Do something that makes sense for people, that inspires them to think 'WOW I'm glad I'm here... this is gonna be good.'

    The start is your opportunity to deliver impact and most importantly, to FRAME what this is about, why we're all here and what's going to happen. 

    Check out any athlete - swimmers, cyclists and runners are perfect examples - and you'll see how much effort they put in to the starting part of their event. Without a brilliant start, they've got to work too hard to claw it back. It's near on impossible to regain the lost time, momentum and to 'catch' those who've lept ahead. 

    Start. Strong, clear, bold and audacious. 

    Then continue with that momentum and it will be a great meeting, workshop, strategy, conversation and event. 

     

    Thursday
    Feb142013

    Learn the dance: the 4 key steps to meeting awesomeness

    You know the meeting merry-go-round where there is so much circling back on to topics covered earlier. Or meetings and conversations when some people don't move on and others seem to wrap up the meeting but no one knows who's going to do what. 

    'Aaaargh - there's an hour of my life I'll never get back,' you say.

    Here's the thing; if you've called a meeting or are leading a meeting, it's up to you to keep 'em on track, help them participate and make outcomes happen.

    Don't blame 'them'. You're it. It's on you. 

    Here's how I roll: whenever I'm facilitating a strategic workshop, a strategy session, a design thinking workshop, I am ALWAYS listening and looking out for whether the talk is in one of these four areas:

     

    1. Backstory
    2. Opinions
    3. Ideas
    4. Outcomes

     

    That's it. And I make sure we move through that process throughout the meeting - also making sure everyone get's to contribute, add stuff, say what they need and so on. 

    There's a visual of my Facilitator 4-Step - as I call it - here. I'm always doing this 'dance' to make sure we get to the outcome in every meeting and workshop with clients. 

    Most people think they're pretty damn hot at meeting leadership. I disagree. Most of what I see in workplaces gets really mucky and muddy between steps 1, 2 and 3, and not doing 4 well either. 

    There's an ebook I have that unpacks the model. Email me and I'll send it to you! As a gift. 

    Dance on folks - just learn the steps. You won't tread on any toes, I promise, and you'll have plenty of dance partners for years to come!