The components of effective facilitation.
Last week I attended a ‘Creative Ideation Workshop‘ organised by Wellington NZ (the city’s and region economic agency) and facilitated by Creative HQ (my attendee experience tweet thread) to:
We need to get ideas into action and we are keen to work collaboratively with you and other creative minds who are lucky to call Wellington home. We’d like to invite you to an ideas hui to brainstorm creative solutions to some of the city’s challenges following the economic impact of the Covid19 pandemic. We will take some of the best ideas generated at the hui, develop these further into tangible solutions and work to secure funding to turn them into reality.
From the original email invitation.
Was great to see so many souls respond to the call of collaboration and the energetically run afternoon session certainly generated an array of ideas based on the challenges laid down.
It was shared early on that the ideas from the session would be directed towards the City Recovery Fund (a new amount of money made available and administered through the city council which TEDxWellington recently applied for). The criteria was displayed to the participants as part of the intro:
- contribute to the immediate recovery of the City economy;
- enhance or protect Wellington’s position as a leader in innovation and creativity;
- seek to use innovation and creativity to support recovery, revitalisation and job protection or creation;
- contribute to sustainable economic outcomes; and
- align to the WellingtonNZ promotional campaigns.
The session however missed some crucial and foundational elements to catalyse appropriate ideas (and totally appreciate the challenge of managing any group of humans coming together for the first time within the 2.5hours allocated).
What follows is a list of those elements which needed more attention and which can also assist anyone else reading when approaching creative facilitation:
Outlining the language set and definitions to ensure clarity (for example, what do we mean by creativity? What scale of economic impact is expected from the ideas to aim for? What collaborative examples would illustrate success? etc.). Always good to share any of this before attending as well (in this instance, detailing that all ideas were to remain in the focus of the City Recovery Fund would’ve managed expectations).
This could be the things in the room (which was evident), also the expertise (who had talent in what areas to be activated), the budgets (if applicable beyond any one session), the time (how is it to be used) etc.
Equally as important to what is available are the boundaries. The thresholds and hard deadlines (for applications), the range of grant amounts available, types of things not to explore (all which wasn’t discussed bar one which was at the end when an idea was dismissed as it was part of another plan).
Having a simple timeline of expectations from ideation to formulation, to invite to hone ideas and collaborate right through to application and then expected decisions and delivery plus impact. Having a visible agenda helps here along with a shared example of how any work is to blossom into action.
Success / Metrics
There are several ways to answer this one from amount of ideas crafted, the quality, the potential of ideas which fit the framework / resources / constraints as laid out above. This can also be a broad as an invitation to explore based on the brief or a chance to connect with other passionate souls on the same issue. Who is going to measure this and again by what framework?
Crucial for trust building is setting clear and tangible creative control. In terms of internal workshops this matters less although named ownership or departmental association is welcomed for celebration. For cross-sector collaborations this is key along with is these ideas are going to be shared elsewhere and to whom with what attribution (it was mentioned towards the end of the session to add individual names onto the sheets of paper we were working on and would imagine that’s the strategy for identification of ideas in this instance).
Looking forward to receiving and seeing all the ideas from the sessions which was discussed as an action at the end of the session plus hearing how some of the ideas will be progressed.