This week I was working with a group who were setting priorities for the next year.  One of the stories shared was about how some people working in a particular system often did not take into account the circumstances in which clients found themselves.  The ‘system’ people were more concerned with pushing a process along, sometimes being intolerant of the perceived lack of action and so-called personal responsibility of individual clients.  Compassion was missing in action.  The ‘system’ was not noticing or understanding the reasons for an apparent incapacity to act.

It’s got me reflecting on the times when we come into a situation and expect another person or group of people to be ready to act or be in a position to respond quickly to something.  We forget that there is often, if not always, a back story.  Reasons why the person may not be ready now or may never be ready, at least not in the way we might expect or assume.  While we do need to notice what’s obvious, it’s not necessarily always about what’s visible.

Lynn Walsh – workshop and meeting facilitator – Sydney, Australia

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Workshop in a garden

Yesterday was a mild winter day.  I was facilitating a planning workshop with a group of nine enthusiastic people.  The venue was a room in a beautifully landscaped setting.  The garden was bathed in sun.  There were different (and wonderfully noisy) species of birds feeding in and among the various plants and flowers.  There were spots to sit alone, and step spaces to gather. 

We may never have noticed any of this if not for some limitations with the allocated room.  The room’s walls were out of bounds as it was a gallery space.  The best part of the floor was also out of bounds.  It was a public gallery – and visitors came through as we worked.  Some of the furnishings required special care.  After rethinking how processes and activities might roll out, the group seized on two words as their mantra – flexible and flow.  

The garden is where we spent the better part of the day.  We may never have used this creative space to generate wonderful conversations and reflection had it not been for the opportunity presented by the room’s apparent inadequacies.  The grass outside became the gallery for the group creations.  The space, which may have only been explored during lunch and breaks under ‘normal’ circumstances, became an asset to the process.  It was open and warm with good light for most of the day.  The occasional breeze threatened to blow away some of the work which was amusing.

For me, this experience was a reminder

  • to use what you’ve got and get on with it, and
  • to notice what else is available, even if all needs have apparently been met.

Thanks to the everyone’s good humour and flexibility, the group achieved what they needed to on the day. I’m guessing that they also slept very well last night after a good dose of fresh air and sunshine. 

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