Tuesday, 7 April 2009

My reflections on the feedback from the seminar

As regular FAN Club members will know, we actively seek your feedback after each meeting. The feedback sought covers everything about the meeting; from the plenary sessions, workshops, seminars, the venue and even the food!

We are always grateful for the time members take in providing their feedback and personally, I am so please that a number of participants in the Collaboration Seminar took the time to do so too, and supported their feedback with comments.

In the spirit of openness – a critical element in effective collaboration – I wanted to share a number of comments that were made about the seminar session, and to give my perspective on the comments. I considered my decision to do this carefully because I did not want to be perceived as using this blog to defend my approach to the workshop. I did however, find the comments interesting and particularly in the context of the day’s theme; leadership.

Participant Comments
  • It wasn't what I expected - the best thing to come out of it was the opportunity to network and "collaborate" with fellow participants.
  • A lot of content on the walls, but little opportunity/time to look at it, or engage with it. Quite a lot of confusion about what we were being asked to do. The ambition for the session seemed to vastly outstrip the reality of what happened.
  • But trying to cover too much ground; did not get time to see the info on the wall, but made some potentially very useful contacts within my discussion group, and interesting to hear the different perspectives from the other groups in the room.
  • It wasn't very clear what we were trying to do in our group, so our discussion didn't seem to go anywhere. Some of the other groups seemed to get more out of it though.
  • Not clear how this was specific to leadership or futures. The questions that were posed at the beginning of the session weren't really answered.
  • Purpose and outcome of seminar not clear - was hoping for some practical tools rather than a 'general chat' ........
  • Steve tried something difficult - Steve tried to make it experiential - but there was issue of generalising from it to collaborative tools. I would have liked to learn more about collaborative tools and how to use them.

My thoughts

I was very pleased that people found the session “different” and with that in mind there is something to say about how I set the session up. For me, working at the Fan Club is a great opportunity to stretch myself – to try something a little different - and to provide an environment that is out of the ordinary for members that attend the sessions I facilitate.

The questions posed were simply the catalyst for a collaborative conversation, the framework for which was the Collaboration Cycle – the single most important tool for effective collaborative working.

Posters on the walls provided participants with a range of tools and other information about collaboration, for them to engage with as they saw fit. It was interesting to me to note how little most of the participants chose not to engage with the material.

Given the feedback, I am also left wondering what prevented participants from addressing the questions posed.

I was also struck by the sense of ambiguity and complexity expressed in the feedback. Both are common leadership and futures work challenges and can create significant tension in collaborative working. The choices we have are to go with the flow and trust that our skills, knowledge, collaborative working behaviours will allow clarity to emerge, or to seek to put structures in place to create a sense of certainty and simplicity (which may not in reality exist!).

In the morning’s leadership workshops, I was immediately struck by the significance to the challenges identified of collaboration, so for me the link was already made- an observation we did talk about that briefly at the end of the session.

The seminar seemed to leave a number of participants with a number of outstanding questions, particularly about the tools described in the posters on the walls. To date I have received just two follow up calls which have resulted in face to face meetings to engage in further discussion about collaborative working.

You can follow the Collaborative Working Practice in Futures Work project by following the blog, and you can contact me to discuss any aspect of the seminar and collaborative working generally by email.

Thank you for your attendance at the seminar and particularly for your feedback.