How do you make sure that a group of 11 leaders mobilise their learning from an intense two-day conference in two hours and also commit to action? Well, here's how I tried...
I was with a group of leaders, mostly from the Bristol area, at the Leadership Summit this year. The Summit included some great speakers and memorable sessions including Andrew Rugasaria from Uganda speaking on Trade not Aid, Jessica Jackley, founder of the excellent Kiva, and Gary Hamel to name but a few.
After the Conference I was asked to facilitate this two hour session in a small room in the Marriott, Schaumburg. These are the steps I took them through:
- Clarified and agreed the objectives.
- Asked for the first three sessions that were most memorable for them.
- Arranging them into three groups I showed them a Mind Map template I had drawn on a flip sheet. It had the central theme (one of the sessions) and four branches radiating out:
- Key points
- Key quotes
- Interesting thoughts provoked (strong or logical association not necessary)
- Actions or responses we might take
- Then I gave each group a different session a different coloured flip chart pen and they each did a mini-group Mind Map.
- After a few minutes I got them to circulate the maps so that each group was working on a new session.
- One more iteration of this allowed all to contribute to all three Maps
- Then I hung their handiwork up around the room and asked them for any emergent themes that come out for them across all the sessions. (I always find it amazing how different speakers even when not briefed can build on certain emergent themes in a good conference.) I listed these on a flip chart.
- I moved every other delegate around the room so that people were now working in new groups. And we repeated steps 5-8.
- There was time for one final round of Mind Mapping and delegates 'voted' for the last three sessions - and no, Tony Blair's session didn't make the cut! (Brits will understand, Americans will be bemused.)
- Towards the end of the two hours, I allowed everyone to walk around all nine of the group Mind Maps, in a sort of gallery, just taking the time to review all their collective thoughts.
- At the end, I closed by giving them a few moments to reflect and write down actions they would commit to, and the name of someone they would be accountable to and share with their committed actions. One of these actions, in true David Allen style, should be done day 1 back in the UK and should take no more than 20 minutes. And, as you can see, I documented all this work by camera for later distribution to the group as a permanent record.
All in all, this process worked well, given the richness of our experience, lack of IT in the room and the severe time constraint. I would do this again, but only for a group of about this size.