Wednesday last week, I was in Innsbruck, Austria, where I gave a full-day, team workshop at MED-EL, a company that makes Cochlear Implants.
This was the first time I have flown anywhere where every single flight I took was delayed. To get to Innsbruck from Amsterdam, there is no direct flight. So, on the way there we flew to Vienna first, before connecting to Innsbruck. On the way back, we flew first to Frankfurt and then on to Amsterdam.
Thankfully, I flew in the afternoon before I was due to present, not early that morning. Which is a good lesson to remember. It was stressful knowing how late I was going to get home. I hate to think about how stressful it would have been worrying about being late for my booking!
The brief for this job was to present a full-day, team focused workshop where everyone would learn new skills and/or ideas. I chose to focus on the framework of creativity: What is it? How does it work? What contributes to being creative? Tools and techniques and creative communities.
The group was diverse in age, nationality and job description. At the beginning of almost every group training interaction I have, I say, ‘This is a 3-way learning process’ and last week that was just as true as ever.
The trickiest part of any workshop by far is the instructions for the activities or exercises. I tend to follow the dictum of one simple instruction, which is then directly acted on, followed by another. For example: Everyone stand up. (they do!) Find a partner (they do) and then I use one pair to demonstrate what happens next.
Still, I spent a lot of time re-explaining certain exercises, a solid indicator that I need to work on simplifying some of those instructions.
This was a big group and a lot was going on in the room at any given time. This meant I had to have only a light hand on things in order to allow whatever was happening in each group to just happen. In other words, I had to trust my process and structures to deliver the desired result. And they did, even though at some stage things felt a bit out of control… but after all, it was a creative workshop, right?
The broad mix of people also led to some very unexpected discussions, ideas, questions and approaches. This is resulted in a rich and diverse workshop day and reminded me that my job in these situations is to facilitate (to go with it and allow the learning to happen) rather than to dictate.
Thankfully, in this case, the client had given a pretty flexible goal and it was easier to let my planned end point float a bit. I have no doubt that everyone in the room (well OK, except maybe one) learned something and experienced things they did not know about creativity in general and about their own creativity in particular. The comments and feedback afterwards reflected that.
What did I learn? Plan and rehearse more, stick to the plan less!
Oh and Innsbruck is beautiful but really hot in the summer.