Disruptive facilitation #5 – It’s just a silly game


April 28th, 2010

For the past few days I’ve been facilitating a workshop with my friend Johnnie Moore. Apart from the obvious joys of co-facilitating, we’ve been drawing on our shared passion for improv and using a range of improv games with our participants. And let me be really clear – this is not an improv game here or there to illustrate a point, or explore some abstract concept (and yes, improv games are good for that too). This has been wall-to-wall improv games. We’d decide on an opening game (or offer) and then see where that took us. From that there would emerge another game. Sometimes we’d be stuck. Sometimes the game wouldn’t work so well. Sometimes we’d be surprised. The simplest game (group counting, for example) would surface the richest insights.

At one point today, we had demonstrated a game with a small group in front of the rest. It was Three-Headed Expert. It was okay, a bit flat and we both noticed. We broke the larger group into smaller groups and asked them to play the game. They got it. They understood the concept of ‘being average’, they laughed and they debriefed without us having to do anything. All the while this was happening we were wringing our hands, wondering what to do to ‘rescue’ the situation. We didn’t have to. All we had to do was notice what was happening and trust that a bunch of intelligent human beings could play a silly game and make sense of it without any prompting from us.

Well, from me. This is my learning edge – to stop interpreting for others.

This demonstrated again that we really do “act our way into a new way of thinking, rather than thinking our way into a new way of acting.” I’m often anxious when facilitating that people will ‘get it’ – that it’s some failure on my part if they don’t. Johnnie reminded me of Viola Spolin’s response: “If they don’t get it, just play another game.”

Yay to that.

1 Comment so far

  1. Facilitation - Evaluation - Beyond the Edge - Viv McWaters on May 16, 2010 5:04 pm

    […] Disruption is what it’s all about I have now completely let go of any notion that facilitation is about making it easier. That’s a mechanistic interpretation and one that certainly doesn’t apply to my style of facilitation. Nor do I believe that it is in the best interests of participants. You can read more about my thoughts on disruptive facilitation here, here, here, here and here. […]

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