Post-Event Review: Another Adaptive Action

Last week the Human Systems Dynamics Institute hosted “Twenty-first Century Facilitation: Find Wisdom in Chaos.” As with all Adaptive Action Labs, we will meet to hold a more formal review. Today, however, I am sharing my more immediate reflections about this Lab. Using the Adaptive Action format makes this a simple, logical practice that keeps me focused on what’s important. I don’t get lost in the details or drama. Here’s how it works.

Consider facts that are important to the review. Include: (1) Enough history for perspective; (2) Enough current description to create the picture; (3) Enough aspiration to know what you want.

On August 20 Jennifer Jones-Patulli and I launched the facilitation lab. We were supported by Mary Nations. In the design, we worked to increase participant’s active engagement around their own challenges. The Lab's design created a case for a different approach, outlining what is understood about systems in the 21st century. Then we talked about perspectives that facilitators need in these 21st century systems. Finally, we offered a set of 4 Simple Rules that shape facilitation that's needed today.

Sixteen people enrolled. Not every enrollee attended every session, but they have access to the recordings of all sessions. Half of the enrollees have had no real interaction or training with the Institute. The other half of the enrollees have completed our certification course. Most enrollees signed up in the final days before its launch. Through the course of the online sessions, most attendees appeared to be engaged with the materials, with the online activities, and with the presentations made by the Jen and me.

So what?
Use HSD-based tools to help you make sense of the data you have collected. Consider what you want to know and what tools will help you “see” into the data through that lens.

So, what implications can I draw from that background about Adaptive Action Labs, in general? Additionally, what can we learn from the specifics about this Lab, in particular?

Pattern Spotters helps us draw out some of the dominant patterns in a challenge.

  • Consider patterns you see in general:
    • Participants expressed appreciation for (1) Time to reflect on their own; (2) Opportunities to share in small dyads; and (3) Whole-group discussion.
    • In the closing session people named benefits they had gained from participating. Their answers included: (1) A deeper approach to planning for facilitation; (2) Tools and insights for dealing with surprising challenges; (3) The value of this information in situations beyond traditional facilitation; and (4) Learning a way to name real-life experiences they hadn’t understood before.
  • Given general impressions, name exceptions or questions that remain:
    • On the one hand, people seemed to engage in discussion and activities. On the other hand, it is hard to determine a best balance between different engagements.
    • On the one hand, people talked about what they’d learned and what they were taking with them. On the other hand, we don’t have a reliable way to know long-term implications on practice for the participants.
  • Identify contradictions you see:
    • Some people embraced the theoretical grounding. Some embraced the practical applications. Some embraced both.
    • Some participants were more vocal, speaking their questions and comments. Some were more reticent and responded only when specifically invited.
  • Name ways you were surprised:
    • Some who said they have little or no experience with complexity concepts stepped into the underlying theory we shared.
    • Participants moved to cross-talk with each other a couple of times, rather than talking directly just to the two facilitators.
  • List questions that remain:
    • How can we leverage this experience for participants as they return to their day-to-day work?
    • What’s next, and what might any of this help us know about our longer-term strategy of offering online public Adaptive Action Labs?

There are other models and methods we could use:

  • Interdependent Pairs can help us consider the mutual impact of tensions that exist in these trainings:
    • Large Group --- Small Group
    • Group --- Individual
    • Theory --- Practice
    • Online --- Face to Face
  • Inquiry can helps us focus on what we see, beyond our own judgment, disagreement, defensiveness, and assumptions.
  • Simple Rules specific to Adaptive Action Labs can help us set conditions for high-level engagement and learning.

In this So What? about this particular Adaptive Action Lab, I see points that can inform further decision making about public offerings of professional development. Ideas about timing and design point to some different ideas for action for me.

Now what?
Review the So What? findings to decide on your next wise action.

So, the final question in this cycle is, “Now what will I do with these insights as we move into the future with Adaptive Action Labs?” I have identified a couple of ideas to move forward. First, I will take this broader view to the debriefing session we will have about this particular Lab. Second, this reflection reinforced for me (again) the critical nature of blending theory and practice in the ongoing give-and-take in a session.

Post-event reflections are helpful in many ways. For me they capture an essence of what I saw and heard while it is fresh on my mind. Using HSD-based models and methods, I apply my craft to hone my skills and insights. Try it on your next after-the-fact review and see what comes up for you. Let us know how it works.


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