Online Facilitation of Applied Improvisation Exercises

A black squirrel from the side

Nine things I learned from Gwen Gordon and Erica Marx

After Christian and I facilitated an online session at the Applied Improvisation Network’s conference some weeks ago, Gwen Gordon contacted us to say that she also learned a few lessons doing this work – would we like to play together. On Tue this week, Erica Marx and I joined Gwen for a session of mutual learning. Here is what I took from the session:

  1. Zoom is a great platform, especially when used on a laptop. It offers various tools to play with including white board and breakout sessions. It is essential, though, that everyone plays on a laptop, rather than a tablet because the latter’s functionality is limited. For instance: I could not change my view from speaker view to gallery view (it may just be my own ignorance or inexperience). Gallery view is essential so that all participants can see each other.
  2. It may be fun to rename participants with playful names. Gwen likes to allow people to choose alternative names for themselves and use the zoom rename function to do so. This helps with distancing. As mentioned in our blog on online embodiment work, online processes can become very intimate and make participants feel vulnerable because the screen finds you where you are in your private home or office.
  3. Games where you pass on something from person to person work really well. Examples of this kind of game are the sound/energy ball and the gift circle. Because people do not appear on each other’s screens in the same order, Gwen gives each person a number and adds it to their name when they rename themselves at the start of the session.
  4. It works well to give people numbers as a way to establish an order for each exercise. Because you cannot organise people physically, establishing a response order is crucial. Christian and I usually establish an order by simply saying who goes after who (see a previous blog on online facilitation). Gwen cleverly uses numbers. The constraint of this is that, as someone who does not see well, I am better at remembering names than at following numbers that only appear visually on the screen. Still, it is worth trying, especially, as Gwen pointed out, when you have 22 people in the Zoom room.
  5. Games that build on each other are more fun and create greater connection across virtual space. We played ‘Yes lets’ in this way. Buttons (Gwen) would suggest an action ‘let’s melt’ and as we all melt, Squirrel’ (Erica) would suggest the we begin sizzling in the pot, and then Sideways (me) suggest that we begin to pop the corn etc. For some reason, I never played the game as one that builds, but rather as one that introduces a new action every time, but the building makes much more sense.
  6. You can use the features of online rooms to spark the invention of new games. Gwen invented a game where she asks all participants except two to strike a pose. The two remaining participants then comment on the gallery of images as though they are looking at a collection of artworks. In paired rhyme form, they then comment on the exhibition taking turns. This was hilarious
  7. Online processes can feed back into face to face sessions. Erica enjoyed commenting on how she might use the experience in the class she was about to teach after our session. The interplay between off line and online processes is a growth area. The switching between the two enriches both as we see well known exercises from a fresh perspective.
  8. The strategic edge offered by the SNE (strategic narrative embodiment) model. Applied Improvisation exercises are used by Gwen, and possibly many others, mostly to shift energy or to create a certain mindset for other work. I asked about the strategic use of the exercises as a way to work with content, and this seemed like a novel idea to my fellow players. Granted, we did not have a lot of time to get into it, but I know that in my own work, I use applied improv exercises to generate ideas for the very content we are working with, not only as a mood setter. We may, for instance, use the gift circle to name the gifts we received from a give session as way to reflect on our learning. Other times I have used the props game to generate ideas around solving a specific niggly issue. This strategic element stands out as being particular to my work. Want to learn more?
  9. Applied improvisation fits into the larger story design of a session. Another particular feature of my work that interested Gwen and Erica was the narrative nature of my session designs. I asked about how exercises might build on each other twards landing particular content. Again this seemed to my fellow players to be a new perspective. I think it is my applied drama training that has influenced this way of working. I design every session, on or off line, as a story arc. Starting with participants’ current realities, through moments of transition, tests and trials and sometimes playfully coming face to face with our own nemeses to return to the now, reflecting on our learning and thinking about the elixirs we are brining home. Want to learn more?

If you are interested in the strategic narrative aspects of improvisation, you may want to take the SNE course for coaches and facilitators. Our next face to face course is now in Oct 6-7 Oct for Module 1 and 13-14 Oct for Module 2. It happens in Johannesburg.

Alternatively, join us for our next online Flying Pig Catching series starting 16 Nov in the Zoom room near you.

Many thanks to Gwen and Erica for such fruitful playing!!

Also read:

Principles for doing online facilitation and embodiment

Change how you coach and facilitate with SNE

Where does Strategic Narrative Embodiment Techniques (SNETs) come from?

The heart of Strategic Narrative Embodiment (SNE)

 

Triggers, curious questions, and judgement –

OD practitioners making a circle

Reflections on the IODA/Flourish conference in Stellenbosch 6-8 Sep 2017

 
I am posting this one day earlier than usual so that the conference goers who may read it can do so before they hit the bustle and business of Monday’s return to work.

  • Trust me to make mistakes
  • Trust me to make them boldly
  • Trust me to reflect on them (if I am liucky enough to spot them)
  • Trust me to say I am sorry
  • Trust me to make the same mistake again.

 

Disclaimer:

This post may trigger you, provoke some confusing feelings or cause you to judge me or some of the others in the story. I apologise if it doesn’t.

Reflections on the IODA/Flourish conference in Stellenbosch 6-8 Sep 2017

Day 1, Episode 1

It is the session before lunch. We are facilitated through a process of visioning. The method includes systems mapping and embodiment .Three quarters in, after mapping the problems concerning diversity in our organisations, we are asked to take a position that expresses our desire for the future of OD (organisation development). The large majority of people go into kumbaya mode: holding hands, or standing arms on each other’s shoulders in a circle. I don’t want to be locked into this picture, and I don’t want to be separate from the group, so I stand against the circle where people are clumping and packing themselves tight in order to get into the circle. Accross from us the circle is thin and people are reaching across furniture unable to reach each other’s hands. The woman behind me nudges me and tells me to go and help them. I say “no thank you, I like it here.” She accepts it.

We reflect on our experience and I tell my reflecting partner (call him X) how I did not want to conform and how I am very weary of being peer pressured into conformity as an answer to dealing with diversity. . He tells me to ask myself a curious question about my response. Immediately I am triggered. I feel irritated by his remark. I notice the feeling, and do not react on it.

Day 2, Episode 2

It is the last session of the day – an integration session meant to help us all reflect on our experiences of the day. It is set up as a thinking space. It starts and ends at specific times and we all sit in a circle, but there is no other structure. Anyone may speak about an experience or where they are at. I am one of three new people in the group. The others had all come to this same integration session the day before.

There is silence and a few contributions. Then one participant, call her A) reflects: “I would have liked to build on what we did yesterday, but I do not want to exclude the new people. So I am saying nothing.” One of the new people say that she came precisely because she heard yesterday was so meaningful, and did not want to derail the flow of that. I say I don’t mind if they pick up from the day before, I did not mean to intrude. Participant A responds: “I did not mean for my words to make you feel like intruders.” I smile and respond: “So, by trying not to exclude us, you made us feel like intruders?” Immediately another participant (B) cuts in: “That is your interpretation.” “Yes, I own that.” I say, and again I feel triggered in the same way as the day before.

I notice my response and sit with the feeling, stewing, while others offer more contributions. When there is another lull, I say: “May I say something uncomfortable?” Having obtained permission, I say: “I have been triggered the same way a few times now and I want to talk about it.” I explain how B’s remark irritated me. “The phrase ‘that’s your interpretation’ made me feel shut down and like my interpretation was invalid. We judge judgment with phrases like ‘that’s your opinion/interpretation as if we have a choice as humans not to judge. Judging is what humans do. I did not mean to be judgmental, though, I meant to summaries what I heard A say – yes, offer a perspective and therefore a judgment, an interpretation.’ I saw some vigorous nodding from others in the room. There were a few more remarks and the session ended.

Day 3, Episode 3

We are 5 women in a van on the way to a site visit. One from Chilli, four South Africans – two coloured, 1 black and 1 white (me). Yes, I name the races because race plays a role in every South African story. The black woman is sharing an experience in a session the day before. She tells how the presenter said in a passing remark “we all learned these things in Grade 8.” The black woman tells how she put up her hand and said that we cannot assume that everyone here did Grade 8, or that they learned the same things.”

After the session, while she was reflecting and writing in her journal, one of the white participants came to her with her ‘coachy-coachy voice” saying “My colleague and I are curious about what you said. You seem so angry. We wonder why you offered such an unproductive remark. Would you like to talk about it?”(My paraphrasing). The black woman felt irritated at the interruption and even more irritated by the sense of judgement coming from the woman. She responded that she did not want to talk about it. The women renewed her invitation saying that they are available if she changed her mind.

The next day (day3), the white women’s colleague approached her, the black women. Again she was interrupted by the white woman while she was in an engaging conversation with someone else. Again she was invited to talk and again she declined. Sitting in the van we all talked about how we use the phrase ‘I am curious” as a judgement, instead of being truly authentic and curious. We also talked about white people’s need to understand what black people mean and how they try to avoid discomfort, requiring black people not to rock the boat.

Judging is what people do. Everyone’s judgement is a valid perspective. Our judgements are informed by our experiences and they are our stories. As coaches and facilitators our job is not to judge judgement, but to accept every contribution as a contribution. We have only two kinds of curious questions that are useful:

  1. The kind you ask yourself of your own triggers. What has made me feel this way? Act this way?
  2. The kind that is genuinely interested in another’s point of view, authentically asked because you really do not know.

We cannot use curious questions to be helpful to someone else and in the process judging their judgement as being judgemental.

Graphic of White work and black work

Note to white people:

For heaven’s sake do not interrupt black people, it is rude. When you do talk to them, do not do so in order to make them explain themselves so you can understand. It is not their job to help you with your fragility. If black people always have to explain themselves and in doing so be careful not to upset you, they will never be free to voice their experience, tell their stories and air their judgements. Go and do your own questioning and reflecting, that is your work, not theirs. Also, dear white people do not try to understand everything black people say, our attempts to understand are too often renewed attempts to control. While you are at it, don’t do any of these things to anyone else. If you do, reflect, say you’re sorry and try again. You will fail often, but don’t stop trying.

Thank you to the two coloured women for enabling the space for this conversation, for your compassion and contributions in the discussion. Thank you too for your humour. Without you, it could not have been possible.

Thank you to the Chilean women for your silent witnessing and curious attention that contributed to the holding of the space.

Thank you to participants x, A, B and the black woman for helping me see clearly what I only saw vaguely before.

We are united in our brokenness.

Let’s solve the world’s problems in 90 minutes flat!

IODA Flourish conference 2017

What happens when we change the rules for how we interact with each other?

Industrial psychologist, Burgert Kirsten, and I will be hosting a workshop at the International Organisation Development Association (IODA)) conference in Cape Town this coming week.

The theme of the conference

THRIVING THROUGH DIVERSITY

The role and form of OD in embracing diversity in organisational, systemic and social change

We are planning a high energy action orientated, playful investigation of the systemic powers that perpetuate inequality, othering and injustice.

Our topic is:

Solving the world’s problems in 90 minutes flat – Applied improvisation for Social innovation

Objectives:

  • Creating a climate for risk taking
  • Making it safe to differ.
  • Playing with unusual roles, identities and actions.
  • Taking diversity challenges head on.
  • Moving from conversation that control to conversations that connect.
  • Addressing the systemic forces that perpetuate othering.

Here is a short video to a predecessor of the work we will present at the IODA/Flourish! conference.

The outline of our proposed session is as follows:

S – Setting the strategic intention

What are the problems in the world we want to solve and why are they so hard to address?

Improv rules are used to change how we are together so that we can change default behaviours and become aware of our interaction choices.

T – Transitional exercises’

Applied improv games that push the boundaries of race, gender class etc. in a fun and playful way allowing reflection on our boundaries and how they function.

Choosing the problems (2 or 3) we will take on today. (processes that identify the system of interactions that govern these problems.

O – Open experimentation

Using Strategic Narrative Embodiment techniques based on Boal’s image theatre and systems thinking to build models of the problem systems. Activating them to see how they function and playing with alternatives to try and change them.

R – Reflection

We reflect on the meaning of the experiments for each of us and for our work and other communities.

I – integration

We choose and ‘rehearse’ alternative actions that we can take to change our stories and our systems relating to the problems we see in the world.

Practical information/skills/tools participants will gain from this session

  • How to change the rules of an encounter.
  • Exercises that create conversation about barriers and boundaries between people.
  • A system awareness of power relationships.
  • An introduction to frameworks and techniques that address these barioiurs and boundaries.
  • Tools for moving beyond talking, towards taking action.

We are indeed privileged to present at this conference and looking forward to the collaboration and connection with other OD practitioners.

Principles for doing online facilitation and embodiment

Here are the principles Christian and I shared at the Applied  Improvisation Network Conference in California yesterday.

Here is also a video of people reflecting on one such online facilitation.

(Principles Using Online Rooms – overview as pdf)

Safe environment

  • In facilitating, training, coaching it is crucial to (co)create a safe environment: An atmosphere, that supports participants to open up, to be ready to share their experiences and feelings using facial expression, gestures, sounds or tunes, visualizations, words. An atmosphere coined by intimacy, trust, connection, the willingness to listen and to collaborate.
  • Using online-“rooms” with the help of live-online tools with possibilities to share audio, video, pictures, presentations, the screen of your PC/ Laptop / Smartphone needs some additional considerations related to building / sustaining a safe environment together.
  • What is more, e-facilitation / e-coaching requires in some aspects a different intensity compared to working together in a physical space. This is because there are not four walls that contain the action and the activity. Containment needs to be created in other ways e.g. a strong visual or conceptual frame.

Intimacy and vulnerability

  • People in very different places & time zones can meet and share aspects of their life. They are in their personal spaces, some of which can be seen in the background behind them. This brings a certain intimacy that is not there in offline spaces.
  • The nature of vulnerability that comes with seeing yourself on camera must be acknowledged. This extra important when doing body work.
  • In online rooms, people who are not contributing, more easily ‘disappear’ out of the mindfulness of the group and must therefore be called upon by name for a response.

Here is a video of our AIN session.

Important aspects for preparation:

  • A cornerstone of a safe environment is everyone getting-to-know each other. If possible: start methods to support it sometime beforeh the first session.
  • Some participants won’t use their camera, they should contribute a picture of themselves.
  • You can use props – you can’t pass them around, but you could ask participants to find similar / related props at their places to create the ‘feeling’ of something described / shown.
  • It is often necessary for participants to share information. What is the best way for a person to share files with other participants? E-Mail often is not the ideal answer. You could use Online-Folders, (hidden) Blogs & Web-Sites or learning-management-systems. Neutral public sharing tools are better than private emails.

Technical issues

Stability of internet connections should be tested – and they can be wobbly or fail at any time.

  • Participants should have possibilities to test / play with earphone & microphone and with features of the online-tool.
  • It is advisable to schedule 10-15 minutes extra at the start of a session to sort out any technical challenges.
  • Another technical and planning consideration is designing time slots where participants meet online in pairs or small groups (with or without you). Such breaks are valuable to change the energy, or to do pair work – just as the case may be in offline sessions.

Please join us for our next online course: How do I do meaningful focused work amidst the business of living?

The individual settings

  • Setting of the place, participants use during online session(s) needs consideration.
  • Facilitators should highlight this in a preparation email.
    • Will they be alone there?
    • Is it a familiar place to them?
    • Which background noises could be heard?
    • What is the light in the room like? And is thee participant sitting in front of a bright window?
    • Is it a place, where they can stand up and make some steps / movements?
    • What can be seen in the background, when they use their video – what do they want to show and what not?
    • Has the participant thought of providing her-/himself with a glass of water / brain-snacks? This is important. Because, in offline spaces we can provide this to participants, but online, people need to care for themselves.

Facilitation

  • Online-Sessions shouldn’t last longer than 90 minutes – and you can use breaks (during them participants could be motivated to work on various tasks) and/or combine several online sessions
  • Combine possibilities of contributions via chat, audio, video, any kind of presentation.
  • You can’t point at someone; therefore you could decide about an order who is first and who is next together or you name people.
  • Foster role flexibility of your participants: they can also (temporally) take over tasks like moderation, documentation, presentation… and some of them will need preparation / support to succeed in this task.
  • Role flexibility, real participation and a sustainable learning process is supported by tasks, that are tackled alone and in small groups before / between meetings.

Please join us for our next online course: How do I do meaningful focused work amidst the business of living?

 

How does one use embodiment in online rooms?

Session at Applied Improvisation Network conference

(update: Literatur on Emodiment also in online rooms,  WriteUp of the session; and a video of the session – see this post)

My friend and collaborator Christian and I will be presenting a session at the Applied Improvisation Network’s annual conference next Sunday 27 August. To me it is a kind of dream come true. This will be the third time I attempt to attend the AIN conference in some way. The last two attempts failed because for various reasons I was unable to make the trip. This year, though, Christian and I solved half the problem.

We will be attending the conference from the comfort of our home offices.

He is in Austria, I am in South Africa and we will meet together online and on screen to present a conference session in California!

I say half the problem, because, while we get to present and interact for an hour, we still do not get to attend and connect with all the other wonderful contributors and players. Next time!

Our topic: How does one use embodiment in online rooms?

Over the past two years Christian and I have been offering online pig catching sessions and learned a number of important principles for doing embodied exercises online. I have colleagues who do not believe it can be done and when I challenge them, they say: “I am sure something essential gets lost.”

Well, we have found that there is a unique kind of intimacy that develops online when people play together – a kind distinctly different in quality than when you work with someone offline. Part of the reason is because you see yourself on the screen interacting and this creates a certain vulnerability that adds to the connection.

To engage the imagination through the body  requires some innovation when working online.  We found ways to use the unique feature of online rooms to access the imagination and people’s creativity in fresh and unexpected ways.

We have discovered how to contain the work when there is no physical room within which to contain activities and relationships.

We have found out how to bridge the divides between participants and build playfulness and connection in new ways.

All these insights will be shared at the conference on Sunday morning and I look forward to sharing some of the principles here in a blog or two soon.

For the curious, here is our conference abstract:

An important aspect of Applied Improvisation is using and perceiving the body: your own and those of others in the room. It therefore seems logical, that “room” is a physical construct, a place with enough space to move and also to rest.

In a connected world “rooms” in the World Wide Web are part of the reality of more and more people: 3,6 Billion people have direct access to the internet, which is about half of the world population. Especially in Europe (over 70 percent of the population) and North America (nearly 90 percent) using the Internet is a part of daily life. An important aspect in the still growing numbers of direct users is mobile access to the internet via smart devices.

Internet “rooms” are used more and more often to learn together, to plan projects and them into action step by step. Topics are not only “tech related” – they are also about facilitating, coaching, developing various kinds of people, individually and in groups. Live online tools are often used in these contexts. They enable participants to hear and see each other. Nonverbal communication is a key aspect of Applied Improvisation. It is also a key aspect of live online rooms.

In our contribution we will summarize studies on using embodiment in settings enabled  by technology. We will present different improvisation methods that can be used in online settings highlighting its effects on collaboration and interaction on one hand and  and on personal development on the other.

Facilitators

Dr. Petro Janse van Vuuren, petro@playingmantis.net, Playing Mantis and Drama for Life, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Applied drama researcher and practitioner, coach and consultant.

Christian F. Freisleben, christian.freisleben@improflair.at, Halftime: St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences (Didactics in Higher Education, E-Learning); teacher, trainer, journalist in the fields of education, health care and social affairs

[1] Http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm (14. 11. 2016)

Change how you coach and facilitate with Strategic Narrative Embodiment TM

Delegates telling stories

Make your work more effective and longer lasting

Research has shown that processes that incorporate stories and embodiment work in a focused strategic manner, as is the case with SNE, are particularly effective when

  1. Working with millennials
  2. Working in intercultural contexts
  3. The content works with issues of diversity
  4. The challenges the group faces are systemic in nature
  5. The work requires innovation and new thinking.

The reasons for this are that the methods

  1. Incorporate whole brain, whole body thinking
  2. Work with head, heart and hands
  3. Externalise and neutralise power dynamics
  4. Playfully and compassionately identify dominant and habitual narratives
  5. Generates creativity and innovative thinking in the group

In short, it is exactly what South Africa and the world needs right now.

Book your place for the next SNE Essentials course by emailing Faith.Dube@wits.ac.za

Here is what some of our participants said of their experience of our pilot SNE essentials course in partnership with Wits University:

I thoroughly enjoyed the SNE course.  It was eye-opening, challenging and worth the time and effort it required. It is refreshing to look with new eyes at everyday opportunities.  I am looking forward to introducing the methodologies and concepts to clients.
– Karina Reid, Organisational Psychologist | Executive Coach & Team Performance Coach | Master Facilitator

Committed to design, facilitation and coaching practices that drive meaning and impact, I was looking for a learning process to sharpen thinking, tools and skills. The SNE course delivered! The course is a great blend of theory, techniques and practical application. Thank you Petro!
– Elusha Jansen, CEO, The Performance Hub

As presenters, we learned a great deal and are able to give the next cohort an even higher quality experience.

Book your place now, there are already 5 people booked and we expect bookings to pick up quickly now that the lines are open.

The course consists of 2 modules of 2 days each completed with a reflective assessment essay based on a practical application in the workplace. Delegates will be awarded a certificate of competence!

As organisers we take care to design an experience that is rich in diversity, crosses boundaries and lets you experience the value of the methods in their totality.

Course Dates:
Module 1: Fri 6 – Sat 7 Oct
Module 2:.  Fri 13 – Sat 14 Oct.
More detail here:http://www.playingmantis.net/about-us/workshops/playingmantis-essentials-in-coaching-and-facilitation/

Individuals with basic coaching and facilitation training are eligible to apply. Please email your motivation letter with a comprehensive CV to Faith Dube at Faith.Dube@wits.ac.za  copying Petro Jansen van Vuuren at petro@playingmantis.net.
For enquiries call 011 717 4764

Cost R11 800

CLOSING DATE: 15th September 2017, 12H00

For applicants who have completed the 3 day essentials course with Playing Mantis:
You may register for a one day touch up plus assessment and receive the Wits certificate.
Cost: R2850
Date Friday 6 October.
Read more on the course here: http://www.playingmantis.net/about-us/workshops/playingmantis-essentials-in-coaching-and-facilitation/

How do I find time for meaningful focused work in the midst of living and surviving?

You are invited to catch flying pigs with us

Face to face Pig Catching in Johannesburg
TOPIC: Doing focused work amidst the business of living
DATES:  Part 1 Fri 25 Aug
Part 2 Fri 1 Dec.
TIME:  8:30-11:30 – experience (Please come on time for coffee or tea, we start at 8:30 sharp.)
11:30-12:30 reflecting on the methodology
PLACE: 19th floor University Corner Building Corner of Jan Smuts and Jorissen Braamforntein.
FACILITATOR: Petro Janse van Vuuren
COST:  R350 for Part 1 only
R500 if you book in advance for Part 1and 2
DRESS: Comfortable clothes you can stretch and move in
RSVP: by  Wed 23 Aug to petro@playingmantis.net

Upcoming dates: Fri 25 Aug and Fri 1 Dec.

Online Pig Catching
TOPIC: Doing focused work amidst the business of living
DATE:TBC
TIME: 20:00-21:15 – experience
PLACE: a ZOOM room (we will send link)
FACILITATOR: Petro Janse van Vuuren
COST:  R100 oer session for 7 sessions or
R500 for the entire series of 7 sessions
Respond if you are interested and we can negotiate dates  petro@playingmantis.net

More on the topic

You may read in the place of ‘meaningful deep work’ any of the following: time for studying further, time for writing, for painting or designing a new process, or just remembering what gives you courage and significance.  Perhaps you are making a career change and you need time to strategise and execute new ideas.

quil and writingFor the past 10 years my husband, Gerhi, have been figuring out how to write the elusive novel and this year he is cracking the mystery. During the same time I have produced a PhD and published a number of research papers. Through all this we have raised our children and worked either on our own businesses or on teaching. We have tried and failed in so many ways; we have also found ways to succeed. What the course shares with you are the narrative heuristics that will allow you to improvise your own strategies for accomplishing your meaningful work.

The pig catching experiments will become part of my own journey towards writing the online course and perhaps a book on the subject. For now I call the process: ‘The success story spiral’ and I would love you to come and experiment with me while at the same time focusing on your own meaningful work.

Note: This process will take two Pig Catching sessions. This one is Part 1 and the second one will be on 1 December. Book for both face to face sessions and pay only R500, or book for one at a time for R350 each. I would like your permission to audio record  all the sessions. I would also like to use the material to populate the course and the book – keeping your identity confidential, of course.

Book now to secure your place by sending me an email petro@playingmantis.net

Note on the online course:
The online process will take 7 sessions instead of the usual 3, so it is a commitment. I have not yet set the dates of the online course. Drop me a mail if you are interested, so I know what the level of curiosity is. Watch this space for details.

About Pig Catching

Pig catching is what coaches and facilitators do when we chase the moment of insight that brings shift and transformation in our clients.
Please note: No pigs get harmed, our pigs are purely metaphorical and they have wings.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?

Coaches, facilitators, game changers, thought leaders like you who can accept the following:

  1. This is not a showcase or sales event geared to impress or win you over. If you come, you already believe that metaphor, embodiment, improvisation and imagination are powerful, fun ways to bring about transformation and you want to know more about using them in coaching and facilitation.
  2. Experimentation and mistakes are part of the process.  You must be willing to play with ideas that may not work or may be a bit uncomfortable, but that could lead to new heights of freedom and insight.

Join our group on Facebook:

Upcoming dates: Fri 25 Aug and Fri 1 Dec.

WE’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO BEING INSPIRED BY YOU. OINK!

What can happen when you integrate Applied Improvisation and SNE with your own work

Sunrise skyline of Johannesburg

Last Quarter our Pig Catching process dealt with the question: ‘How can Africa become a global economic player? Janet du Preez from Tools of Greatness, facilitated the process and did a masterful job of blending her own work on employee engagement with the SNE methodology she learned from Playing Mantis.

(Remember Last week I posted about the Graphic Facilitation by Lita Currie at the session)

In the group was a mixture of organisation development practitioners and applied drama facilitators and both groups were mesmerized by the process. One of the applied d drama facilitators was deeply intrigued by Janet’s innovative use of well known processes. 

I will tell you of two such memorable moments here.

The props game reinvented

Janet du Preez
Janet du Preez
Janet used the very well known applied improvisation game in a very strategic manner. The game is sometimes called ‘Props’ and sometimes ‘This is not a water bottle /stick etc.’ Usually the game starts with a group standing in a circle with a single object in the centre, or sometimes a small number of different objects in the centre to choose from. Participants then take up the object (e.g. a water bottle) a and say ‘This is not a water bottle, it is a…’ and then they name something else e.g. a cell phone while at the same time using the water bottle as though it is a phone.

How Janet used Props

Instead of either placing one object in the middle of the circle for all to use, or placing a number of different objects to choose from, she gave everyone the same object, a stick of about two feet long.

Secondly, she did not require us to stand, but allowed us to stay seated in our circle.

Finally, instead of using the game as it often is just to warm up people’s brains and let them randomly come up with things the stick could be, she gave it a particular strategic frame in keeping with the principle of strategic intent as incorporated in the SNE (Strategic Narrative Embodiment) methodology.

We were to use the stick in the first part of the workshop as a way to name all the things that stand in the way of Africa’s economic flourishing. In the second part of the workshop we did the same exercise and used it to brain storm a picture of the ideal Africa. At the end of each round she asked the group to consolidate and integrate the ideas into a single representation by making tableaux – image with their bodies. In between the two rounds Janet did a number of other exercises to lend depth to the conversation.

Reflecting on the exercise, participants experienced elevated levels of creativity coupled with increased levels of safety. Sitting down instead of standing up and being able to hold on to their stick throughout the exercise removed a sense of perpetual vulnerability that they often associate with this exercise. Layering it with the strategic frame and integrating it into a larger design with tableaus and other processes, contributed depth and meaning to the experience.

Integrating individual with group images

It is a common practice to let participants build a real image, then an ideal image and then to transition them from a real to an ideal image using wome kind of process Boal style. My experience is that the practitioner usually chooses to work either with group images, or individual images. Janet used a combination of both in a startling manner.

Graphic of Pig Catching session captured by Lita Currie
Graphic of Pig Catching session captured by Lita Currie

To transition the thinking from current obstacles to future ideal image, Janet used the SNE technique called ‘Moving Story structure’. The process is a rather involved technique where the individual moves through a series of individual images that include ones that express our default reactions to obstacles and our defense reactions as well as idealised responses that are not practical etc. The end result is a clear understanding of what is real and practical actions we can take right now to get unstuck and closer to where we want to go.

While this is originally an individual embodiment process, Janet combined the individual work with group work so that we each had a clear experiential knowledge of how we each contribute either to the success or failure of the collective endeavour.

If you take in the fact that the group of people in the room were diverse and representative of various demographic groups of people in our country, such an experience was nothing less than moving and hopeful. Each of us left with a clear understanding of how we may be hindering collective flourishing and what we may be able to do as individuals to move into a thriving Africa.

I felt deeply moved by what happens when people of diverse back grounds and skill come together under the guidance of a masterful and gutsy facilitator like Janet: unusual and powerful things happen.

Join us for the next Pig Catching session on 25 August face to face or online at a later date (to be confirmed). This time our flying pig is: “How do I find time for meaningful deep work in the midst of the chaos of living and surviving?” Read more next week or in the quarterly Muse-letter – subscribe here.

How to capture a workshop process with pictures

Catching Pigs graphic facilitation

Graphic facilitation with 3Stick Men

I met Lita Currie two and half years ago when I was working on a process design for SAB and she was working there. Since then Lita had started her own facilitation consultancy in Graphic facilitation. To market her work, she generously did the graphic harvesting of our last Pig Catching session.

The large rolls of paper are put up on my office wall and everyone who walks in first says “Wow, beautiful handwriting!” and then: “What is it??” I explain that it is graphic facilitation and that it is a documentation of one of my workshop processes done by Lita from 3Stickmen.

It never fails to impress, but more than that, people see the value of it as a meaningful documentation process. No-one is likely to stick it in a drawer and forget about it.

If you want to get Lita to do this for you, or learn from her how to do it yourself, Contact her or visit the 3Stickmen website.

Catching Flying Pigs graphic facilitation 2

Our Pig Catching process she captured dealt with the question: ‘How do we put Africa on the global economic map?‘ Janet du Preez who facilitated the process did a masterful job of blending her own work on employee engagement with the SNE methodology she has learned from Playing Mantis.

In the group was a mixture of organisation development practitioners and applied drama facilitators and both groups were mesmerized by the process. One of the applied drama facilitators was deeply intrigued by Janet’s innovative use of well known processes.

Read more about this next week.

More about Lita and 3Stickmen

Are people falling asleep in your training sessions?

Worried that your conference will be boring?

Use hand-drawn pictures created in real time to promote interest and engagement! Let us create a visual record of your conference, your workshop or your meeting. Your audience will remember it forever.

Your audience can see the discussion taking place as it is captured on a big piece of paper. It helps people think more creatively, make connections previously not seen and create commitment and engagement.

Contact 3Stickmen for a free quote.

Or visit the 3Stickmen website.

3Stickmen Intro to Graphic Facilitation intro course

Africa may soon be digitally connected but can we put ourselves on the world economic map?

You are invited to catch flying pigs with usFlying Pig

Face to face Pig Catching in Johannesburg
TOPIC: Engaging Africa
DATE: Fri 26 May
TIME: 8:30-11:30 – experience (Please come on time for coffee or tea, we start at 8:30 sharp.)
12:00-13:00 reflecting on the methodology
PLACE: 19th floor University Corner Building Corner of Jan Smuts and Jorissen Braamforntein.
FACILITATOR: Janet du Preez
COST: R250
DRESS: Comfortable clothes you can stretch and move in
RSVP: by  Wed 24 Mayto petro@playingmantis.net

Upcoming dates: Fri 25 Aug and Fri 1 Dec.

Online Pig Catching
TOPIC: Engaging Africa
DATE:19, 22 and 26 June (Mon, Thu and Mon)
TIME: 20:00-21:15 – experience
PLACE: a ZOOM room (we will send link)
FACILITATOR: Janet du Preez
COST: R250 or $20
RSVP by Thu 15 Jum to petro@playingmantis.net

More on the topic
As a continent we may soon be digitally connected but can we be cohesively engaged to put ourselves on the world economic map?

Our pig for this session is the engagement of Africa.
Using Strategic Narrative Embodiment and the Dynamic Engagement Framework we will explore:

  • How engagement changes outcomes
  • The role of trust in engagement
  • The character and faces of trust
  • How we foster trust

Are we mad? Maybe a little!
Does this matter? Yes!
Can we be the agents of continental change? Why not?

 – by Janet du Preez who will be co-hosting Pig Catching sessions in February and March.

About Janet du Preez
2017-04
Janet du Preez is a friend and accomplished flying pig catcher. she says about the SNE tools: “The SNE processes are a vital addition to my toolkit because of their creativity and impact. I am constantly seeking new ways to engage whole people in transformational journeys. SNE processes encourage new encounters with beliefs, thoughts, emotions, relationships and behaviours. When people engage themselves and engage with themselves in unexpected ways they learn and grow. We will not see change in the conditions in Africa until we transform who we are as Africans. We need every possible tool at our disposal to enable us to transform if we are to change our trajectory. SNE is a particularly powerful tool.”

Janet is a versatile leadership and organisational effectiveness practitioner and a passionate, provocative and creative thinker. A strategic people developer and engagement protagonist, she is constantly alert for good people, good ideas and good systems which can be made even more effective.  Janet uses her well-honed coaching, facilitation, process development and strategic consulting skills to engage talent, passion, insight and action in pursuit of great leadership and effective systems. She is completing an MSc through the da Vinci Institute developing a universal integrated sense-making framework for engagement in organisations.

About Pig Catching

Pig catching is what coaches and facilitators do when we chase the moment of insight that brings shift and transformation in our clients.
Please note: No pigs get harmed, our pigs are purely metaphorical and they have wings.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?

Coaches, facilitators, game changers, thought leaders like you who can accept the following
1        This is not a showcase or sales event geared to impress or win you over. If you come, you already believe that metaphor, embodiment, improvisation and imagination are powerful, fun ways to bring about transformation and you want to know more about using them in coaching and facilitation.
2        Experimentation and mistakes are part of the process.  You must be willing to play with ideas that may not work or may be a bit uncomfortable, but that could lead to new heights of freedom and insight.

Join our group on Facebook:

Upcoming dates: Fri 25 Aug and Fri 1 Dec.

WE’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO BEING INSPIRED BY YOU. OINK!