I love turning a room of “Not So Happy to be Here at The Moment” peers into “Passionate Fired Ups with Ideas and Presence.”
I love watching the skepticals quickly move on the spectrum from “Eye Rollers” to “Eye Smilers.”
I love solving problems with Play.
I believe, when Play and Work tangles magic happens. As leaders, we don’t have to be the experts of domain, but we need to be “ The Space Holders” and “The Witnessers” for unique experts to crack out of their cocoons to show up with their beautiful colors. So, how might we just facilitate THAT? I have few theories and some tried methods:
SET AN INTENTION about the outcome before you meet with the group. Later, when the creative energy dissipates and dragon heat rises, remembering your intention will help you sail through the storms. You have an intention and you have a direction. Storm shall pass, keep sailing.
WARM everybody physically with energizers. We can not solve problems behind the open laptop screens. We need eye contact. We need body wisdom. We need connection.
TRUST that everyone in the meeting has a brilliant piece of the puzzle. Your task as the facilitator is to help gem pieces to find each other. Utilize design thinking exercises to help the pieces define their shapes. “ I have this piece that looks like a good fit here.” Boom.
PRACTICE spontaneity. Preparation before a meeting is good, but sometimes we don’t have time to prepare. Sometimes, we don’t have all the pieces to the puzzle. Sometimes we just need to go with the flow. Trust that the moment will reveal what needs to be revealed for the team. Teach team to show up to see what happens.
FRAME problems. Imagine you are in an art gallery and you are walking through an exhibit of problems. Which problem is the most interesting and relevant? Invite everyone to join you to solve that frame of problem and make sure you are in the same museum, looking at the same picture.
IDEATE with Play. Give everyone permission to get the “Bad Ideas” out of their system. Role play solving problems with an “As If The Sky is Blue” mindset to make everyone creatively excited to get the ideas flowing in the room. Finally, bring them “Down to Earth” to meet timelines and budget. When people’s energies are given blue skies to soar, it is much acceptable for the creative forces to land on what is actually achievable.
BE A CHEERLEADER. Tell everyone that they are doing great. Frequently.
PROTOTYPE ideas quickly with papers, scissors, role playing, singing, drawing, whatever. Invest in “The Story” and it’s “Telling” and not in “Pixels and “ “Perfection” ”.
TEST ideas immediately.
CELEBRATE mistake and failures.
REMEMBER when “Work” and “Play” tangles, “Magic” happens.
I recently dropped into a more than a move your booty dance class called Soul Motion in Berkeley (Thank you for inviting me dear Safoura!) Soul Motion is a conscious dance practice, where one dances intimately with the Self, acknowledges the resonance of other Bodies dancing around them, becomes a Solar System with the Community of Dancers and the Community finds their place within the Infinite Potential of the Universe. This magical formation is gently and humbly guided by a SuperNova-esq dancer Valerie, who is a subtle, loving and tells you specifically and concisely what you need to hear at the right moment facilitator. As I was reflecting on how Valerie made this orchestration made feel effortless, I bookmarked my observations for a great facilitator and leader. I also pondered on how these trades can Empower Agile Teams and Product Design as a whole:
.MY DANCE (My Intimate Star): As my lady feet (also pet named as my elephants sometimes) hit the shiny hardwood floor, the dance ring became a mirror to my Soul's yearnings. The lessons to be learned started to mirage in my body. Gliding with the rhythm, exchanging moves with other Bodies and dancing with the Energy thought me so much more about the things I would love to work on and grow to become a Whole Experience in this Body than a life lived in My Mind. Funny how that works. Body has it's own divine intelligence. Always listen to your BODY and other BODIES in Space!
OUR DANCE (Two Stars in Solar System): Every single interaction with another Body shed light into my insecurities and fears. I learned a big deal about what I fear and what I go after through moving in space with another Body. I was VERY surprised how much judgement I carried. Or, shall I say how much judgement my EGO has. This made me think of work place as the dance floor and the Energy I am bringing into my work:
GROUP DANCE (All Stars in the Universe creating Magic): This was the part of the dance that required opening up my view to see and to feel what moves and what rhythms were around me. The idea of being in hard and soft focus made me think of working in a team as part of an organization. Team members need to be in focus while working on their tasks, but they also need to keep an eye on the bigger picture to make sure that their piece of work fits in organization's jigsaw.
In conclusion, all our interactions are as part of a Big Dance Party called Life. The key to have a good time at work and at home is to be aware of our own party poopers. If we can ease into those parts that are limiting, we can grow, flourish, create and love what we do. Most importantly, it is crucial to be able to bring our unique gifts to the dance floor, so we can boogie with each other. If you want to experientially answer some of the questions that are suggested above, come to the Meetup that I am co facilitating with my friend Sean Halle on July 11th at 6:30pm in Berkeley Sports Basement. We will make work tangle with play and make magic happen!
I facilitated a Sprint Planning Empowerment Extravaganza with a group of brilliant engineers in Fremont, CA today. I helped the team with making assumptions for each User Story, identifying specific things that they need/want and dependencies that they need to manage with other teams. I encouraged them to think out loud and talk about their feelings. Feelings? "We talk about feelings at work?" I said, "Oh my yes, indeed! How does this user story make you feel based on the assumptions you made?" Some felt sunny, others partly cloudy, one yelled "Sky is falling!" We all laughed and asked a lot of "WHYs?" to get to the bottom of what was contributing the antigravity for the sky to fall. Turns out, this engineer was depended on someone in another team to finish his part of the task. Some uttered " Why don't you meet with so and so and so and so together, I know they are working on this piece and that piece and that could help you solve your jigsaw puzzle. " Sun came out. Eyes twinkled. Gravity restored. Sky was saved.
Techniques used: I created the Empowered Team Sprint Planning Extravaganza experience, utilizing and combining Empathy Map with Experience Mapping and Service Blueprints with a sprinkle of improv.
Long live DESIGN THINKING AND IMPROV. Once again, it is proven that when work and play tangles, magic happens.
We all experience the boiling soup in our heads when an agreement on a delivery with a teammate manifests itself as a completely different outcome than the originally discussed idea. "Wait. Whaaat? Didn't we agree on so and so? I thought we were on the same page when they left the room galloping full gusto!!! I thought they were going to come back with what we finally agreed on... Arghhhhhh.... Why? What? Whyyyyyyy?" I get how annoying this is. When I am in a state of what feels like my ideas are discarded and disrespected, my inner child starts screaming all tones of screams. Highs and lows. No medium range notes. Nada. I first doubt myself, then start either feeling angry at the person or I give up on the battle completely, because I have no more energy left to discuss the project any further. So, what to do?
When you feel like you were "thrown under the bus" in a meeting or over an email:
Alex is empowered with the magic "Bells & Wishes" necklace that I made on the spot. He is guarded with the the superpowers of:
Day 5: 3 Things I Learned Today That Thought Me How To Save The Day When Someone Throws Curveballs At My Inner Child
Greetings from Portland, Oregon. I am here to attend the User Experience Engineering: Interaction Design Conference (#UXInteractions) this week. As advertised, we are learning to sail beyond our limits in Interaction Design. My first session for the week was Hagan River's Enterprise Apps: To Boldly Simplify Where Nobody has Simplifies Before. Her lecture was engaging, funny and made me reminiscence about the bloody usability battles I lost negotiating with stakeholders and also reminded me of the ones that I won that made our users go merrily on their paths. Merrily merrily merrily song goes here...
3 Takeaways from Hagan's workshop:
Design Exercise That Switched The Lights on On My Bulb
Exercise: Design a homepage for the library.
User: Patron of the library
Needs: A visitor who wants to find new books, see what she has checked out or overdue, see what is in on order....
Time: 5 minutes
I realized what made me feel at ease after I sketched my mini design challenge. Here are the 3 things that might help bring harmony in your being in times of an urgent request.
Today, I learned the Dance of Directions with a group of amazing women from Sunray Meditation Society who have been practicing the teachings of Venerable Dhyani Ywahoo (Eastern Cherokee) and her ancestors more than 20+ years. We gathered on a beautiful garden surrounded by giant redwoods, over marveling the Bay from East hills, accompanied by deer, blue jades and the scent of magic.
Each direction has heavenly teachings that are available to us right now. The question is can we make the space and time to be in communion with these energies?
NORTH is Ideal
What qualities I would like to bring forward at work?
What is my unborn potential?
EAST is Inspiration
How can I open myself to inspiration at work?
SOUTH is Abundance
What are my inner conflicts and confusions?
What possibilities would open up if I did not feel conflicted?
WEST is Transformation
How can I keep my ego out of work place?
Realize that we are all connected and part of something bigger than us. So why suffer?
I have my fear patterns pointed at me by amazing Paula Colletto in her clown mask workshop last year in San Francisco. We were working on a trust fall exercise as a group. As actors, our task was to fall back behind, fully committed, trusting that our exercise partner got our backs for life. Most importantly, we were to make sure to keep an eye contact with the audience while falling back like a graceful swan. Let me tell you, it was not a piece of freshly baked artisan loaf of bread. (I don't like cake.) Each time my partner increased the distance, thus raising the stakes, I either barked like chihuahua, annoyingly loud or completely went silent, closing my eyes and disappearing from my own body. Months later, I am realizing that getting loud and angry or disengaging and ghosting from the scene are two ways how I protect myself when a stressful event happens. This is very true for work or my improv scenes. Ten thousand light bulbs fusing through my brain with this amazing discovery!!! Thank you Paula for seeing my inner child through the veils of fear.
Realization is the first step to healing. I believe actualization will come by sharing this insight with my coworkers, family and friends, so that they can be compassionate and loving to my scared little child and not take it personally. Understanding my own patterns are helping me be more understanding with others. I inadvertantly am now noticing other people's fear/stress patterns and I say with my inside voice "Oh poor little one is just scared. It is going to be ok little one. I am here with you and we will figure things out. We have [few more days] before we hit that [deadline] and together we will make magic happen."
Professionalism does not mean to act like a numb robot at work and suffer through a career and make others drawn down to Pacific Ocean with you. We are in this together. My healing is your healing. Your healing is my healing.
What are your patterns when compost hits the fan? If you find them, will you reveal them to everyone for the sake of global healing?