How to facilitate when you’re the expert: podcast discussion with Penny Walker

In this podcast with my friend and colleague Penny Walker, we discuss the challenge of facilitating discussions when you’re the expert. Penny is an independent facilitator specialising in sustainable development. She also presented at #dareconf mini last year.  Continue reading How to facilitate when you’re the expert: podcast discussion with Penny Walker

When people don’t engage in meetings, reframe your objectives to give them choice

When we go into meetings aiming to change people’s minds, they often object because their need for choice isn’t met. If we reframe our objectives to include finding solutions together, we can facilitate in a way that meets each person’s need for choice. Continue reading When people don’t engage in meetings, reframe your objectives to give them choice

Pushing back blocks empathy. Can you connect instead?

When a colleague makes a suggestion that we fear may harm our chances of success, we tend to “push back” against their position. This confrontation normally leads to neither side being satisfied. But if we connect instead of pushing back, we can move beyond positions and discover the underlying needs. This builds empathy and opens up options we hadn’t previously considered. Continue reading Pushing back blocks empathy. Can you connect instead?

CITIZENFOUR: a challenge to take action against mass surveillance

I saw Laura Poitras’ documentary CITIZENFOUR last week. The heating in the cinema wasn’t working, so it was freezing. We kept our winter coats on. It was if a divine force—or perhaps a piece of government malware—was saying, “if you know what’s good for you, you’ll get out of here.” Continue reading CITIZENFOUR: a challenge to take action against mass surveillance

Conflict isn’t really about the work, it’s about trust

When we experience conflict about something we’re working on, that conflict isn’t really about the work. It’s about trust between the people in the room.

I learnt this from a participant at a workshop I was facilitating, who I’ll call Adam. We were role-playing difficult conversations from work. Adam was a product manager, and his scenario was a regular meeting where his team of developers prioritised features for the next sprint. One particular developer always seemed to raise the same issue: a feature he thought was important, even though Adam had explained that it wasn’t a priority for the business. As the role-play started, I suggested that Adam use a listening technique we were working on to find out more about what was going on for this developer who always seemed to speak up.  Continue reading Conflict isn’t really about the work, it’s about trust

Advocating for “quality” content serves our unmet needs, not user needs

When we advocate for “quality content”, we’re expressing our unmet needs by making a judgment. That doesn’t serve user needs.

During my talk at Confab Barcelona—”Use agile methods to work together on content” (slides below)—I suggested that in order to benefit from agile methods, we choose to “serve user need over content quality”:

Although most people in the room seemed to follow, a few objected: someone stated that user needs and quality are the same thing. Later a friend observed that my statement was provocative. I realised that I’m not interested in provoking people and I didn’t actually explain what I meant. I’ll do that here instead.  Continue reading Advocating for “quality” content serves our unmet needs, not user needs

People skills for digital workers, by Jonathan Kahn