Showing posts from 2011

Mastering the tools, a first step on the journey of an online facilitator!

In the end of November 2011, the first part of the course 'Social Media for organisationalchange'  was completed with a f2f meeting at Maliebaan45 in Utrecht, The Netherlands.   For a period of two weeks eleven participants practised with a number of social media tools, which are applied for organisational learning and change processes.  Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Google plus, Houtsuite, Prezi,Spiderscribe, Delicious,  Twiddla and Yammer were some of the major tools which were applied for practise.  Experiences about ad- and disadvantages were shared at a Ning Discussion platform.

Practise with tools Three groups, all organised in a virtual summerhouse, selected a tool to present.   Two groups presented their experiences with Yammer. The tool is userfriendly, easy applicable and has a lot of functions which foster discussions. It has some similarities with Facebook and Twitter. 'Yammer is a tool that is renewing itself continuously' adds Sibrenne Wagenaar, one of the…

Facilitation of Strategic Planning in Moldova

Recently Procommunity Centre uploaded a video, where community members share their impressions about the Strategic Planning process. During the past years Procommunity Centre assisted village communities in Moldova in sustaining and improving the quality of rural infrastructure such as schools, cultural centres, youth clubs, roads and energy supply.

In the video village participants stress the participatory approach is one of the mayor factors leading to successful results.  By having the relevant stakeholders on board to solve and discuss their problems,  Procommunity Centre's  Strategic Planning approach creates ownership and dedication with each party to work on sustainable solutions. See video:    Strategic Planning

The participatory strategic planning approach, which has been developed by the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ToP - methods) consists of 5 steps: Visioning (How will the future look like in an ideal situation?)Contractions (What is the current situation and what are …

Playing with dialogues online

Recently  Joitske Hulsebosch and Simon Koolwijk conducted two workshops on ‘How to facilitate with social media’.   The workshops were held at AgentschapNL and the IAF-Benelux Conference ‘Facilitation as a {2nd} profession.

An appealing exercise during one of the workshops was how to convert a face-to-face exercise into an online exercise, while facilitating. Based on the online exercise, two truths and a lie, participants introduced a number of creative exercises.   See video:  Two truths and a lie:

Some exercises which were presented to be introduced online: 1.The line up  Ask participants online to order themselves according to a question in a row. For example, position yourself based on your birthday in the line up.   The people who have their birthday date close to January move upwards, and the ones who have been born closer to December move downwards. is an excellent tool for doing this game.

2. Debate game Start an online debate by introducing a statement. Again

What is the relation between African masks and facilitation?

A lesson about the significance of masks and its meaning in the African context.  This was one of the practicals which was done during the training 'Facilitation methods',  held on the 12th and 16th September, 2011.  The training organised by the Hendrik Kraemer Institute and conducted by Simon Koolwijk was focused on acquiring methods and skills on how to activate and strengthen groups. Nowadays facilitation is one of the key skills professionals need in engaging people for building effective teamwork and stimulating a fruitful knowledge exchange.  Learning embeds better if people have already thought about the topic, before receiving additional information about the theoretical principles. The lesson about the masks was facilitated by two professional lecturers who will teach religion and ethical topics at an university in Africa. Teaching is an interactive process, focused on asking questions, discovering and exchanging.  'The one who is doing the talking, is the one who…

Co-creation through creative writing!

'One day a freelance consultant sat behind the computer......'    This was one of the starting sentences in writing a creative story on how to use social media as a tool for learning. With the assistance of a  creative writing facilitator from Loesje, (Joitske Hulsebosch, Sibrenne Wagenaar and Simon Koolwijk)  organised a co-creation workshop in developing slogans for the training course 'Social Media for facilitating learning processes in organisations'.  The purpose of the workshop was to identify the most important issues for this training course by going through a creative writing process.

Creative writing exercises Based on the starting sentence 'one day.....'  each participant continued the story by adding a new sentence, following the previous sentence.  Each round the Loesje facilitator added a word, which was integrated in each sentence. The stories which were produced visualised some hilarious stories, creating fun and laughter.
The se…

Twelve factors for successful online facilitation

Last week  the Magazine  'E-Organisations and People'  published an article about the 'Art of online facilitation: sustaining the process'  in their edition Vol 18, No 3, August 2011.  This article I wrote with support from Jet Proost,  Bob MacKenzie and Rosemary Cairns.  In the process of writing this article I compared two successful and one unsuccessful case about virtual exchange in my 5 years experience as an online facilitator.  Out of this process of comparing, I concluded that 'twelve factors' are needed  for having a successful online exchange.  I argue that the presence of an online facilitator is essential to get most out of the group and to keep the process going.  Online facilitation requires a different approach from face-to-face facilitation in activating groups. 
Twelve factors for successful online facilitation 1.People have an urgent matter to be solved or a question which keeps them awake at night 2.Leaders or managers have an interest in socia…

Twitter! A great tool for networking and expanding your knowledge base!

Recently I have been reading the publication #Twitter works! - author Fiona Stoop (@werkcoach). In this Dutch written publication Fiona Stoop shares some hintful tips on how to use Twitter successfully for your work.
Have a goal and a strategy Are you looking for a job? Do you want to promote your company?  Recruit participants for an event? Do you want to profile yourself as an expert in your domain?  Are you communicating a campaign message?  or are you looking for support and get some complex questions answered?  Fiona Stoop is stressing in her publication '#Twitter works!' that it is important to have a well defined goal and a clear strategy when using twitter. Fiona comments:  'Developing a strategy can take time.  Reading and checking tweets from other professionals can be very helpful in discovering your own strategy.  Just applying and using your account regularly, will help you what attracts and disattracts people'.   According to Fiona an active tweeter is usin…

Factors for having successful Large Scale Interventions

In March 2011 I had the pleasure to visit the Phd Graduation ceremony of Tonnie van der Zouwen at the Tilburg University. There she presented the main conclusions of her publication "Building an evidence based practical guide to Large Scale Interventions".  Main question in her research was "What are the key factors for having a successful Large Scale Intervention (LSI), that can contribute to sustainable change?"
Factors for a successful LSI Sofar worldwide the Open Space method, Future Search and World CafĂ© are the most applied Large Scale Intervention (LSI) techniques. For her research Tonnie van der Zouwen compared a number of Open Space events where she was involved as a facilitator.  Some of the events were successful and generated sustainable results and changes. Other events were less successful and did not attribute to drastic changes or other ways of co-operation between partners.  Based on her comparison she came up with seven key factors, which can make a…

The value of doubting

Is the belief, you think you have the right answer? Or is the right answer, a belief that is challenged all the time? 

Having doubts is part of our daily lifes. If I am cycling to Amsterdam,   I assume that the signboards are guiding me towards the right direction. But what if I did not notice a signboard on the road?   Or if somebody changed the directions of the signboard having the intention to mislead cyclists? Or did a thunderstorm destroy the signboard?  Or what if a roadblock leads me towards a cycling path withouth roadsigns in a forest?  Am I still  100 % sure I am heading towards my final destination: Amsterdam!?  It are the first signs of doubt.... Watch the video:  The value of doubting - a first test about dealing with certainty and doubts: The music, 'Fast legs, slow head', is produced by Omar Meza; e-mail.

Having doubts has a number of advantages: 1. Connectivity:   It helps to get meaningful contact with other people 2.  Challenging beliefs

A question is a motor for development!

'A question is a motor for development!'   This is the main phrase which struck me, while reading the 'Handbook Developing as Professional' written by Carolien de Monchy.  The handbook is very useful for professionals who have a passion for learning and developing.
A continuous changing world is challenging the today's professional, to update his knowledge and capacities constantly.  Three dimensions are influencing the development of the today's professional:   A dynamic environment of changing knowledge and technologies,  the changing  perspectives in the organisational working surrounding and the changing demands from clients.
Talent and discipline The book starts with an interesting metaphor.  Somebody throws coffee at the floor and  calls 'All wasted talents are flowing at the floor! What a pity!'   'How come wasted talents are at the floor?'  asks the author.  'When the coffee is flowing at the floor, it is wasted.  However, when the cof…

The art of making short video messages

The last couple of weeks, I have been involved in making one-minute video messages as part of the preperation of the IAF-Benelux Conference 'Facilitation as a {2nd} profession.  The conference will take place on the 23rd September, 2011 at Kontakt der Kontinenten in Soesterberg, The Netherlands. The event has 24 workshops and aims to have approximately 150 participants. My role is to make short video messages, where the workshop presenters explain in one minute what they will do and what participants can expect.  In addition, testimonials are filmed where participants from previous IAF-Benelux conferences share some inspirational stories.
See video ( in Dutch)  of one of the testimonials:

Conditions to be created by the client Making a short video message is an art.  There are six conditions that need to be created by your interviewee or client, before taping the video interview. 1.  A space with enough light:  Ensure that the interview takes place in a room or a setting, where ther…

Why structured thinking!???

Structured thinking?  Does it kill ideas or does it help to bring new ideas and perspectives? Writing down each action and step to the most basic detail is very challenging, when you are preparing a training.  So....,  after you welcome the participants,  what will you do?  What next?  What next?
Fifteen years ago, when I got my Trainers of Trainers course in the USA,  it made me very angry that I was challenged by my senior trainer to go through each training session step-by-step.  Looking back after so many years,  I appreciate and see the usefulness in getting the discipline of understanding each little move you are making in preparing a training.  It helps me to master the skill of conducting a training and it even makes me more flexible in initiating new elements in a training when the group is asking for it. Actually it helps me even to become more creative, since I am understanding the basics of involving and engaging a group.
Watch the video:  'Structured thinking exercise&#…

Young Professional about virtual exchange

Since 2006, ICCOenKerkinActie and Togetthere enable Young Professionals (YPs) working on development to exchange experiences about their work. The YPs work for local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as capacity development advisor. Most of them work in isolation and have limited possibility to meet colleagues face-to-face to share experiences.

Each year two discussion rounds, taking five weeks each, are organised virtually where the YPs share experiences about how to strengthen the operations of their partner organisations. The group is using a peer-to-peer coachingsmodel. Most YPs participate two rounds. Just before starting a discussion round, the YPs are asked by an online survey to share the topics which keep them awake at night or have a high degree of urgency for them. Some of the selected topics deal with: "How to make my work sustainable?" "How to create local ownership for what I am contributing?", or "How to position myself as…

Most Significant Change (MSC): How to measure behavioural change?

'The literacy rate has increased with 20 % in five years!' 'Fifty percent of the young people, who participated in reading and writing classes have acquired a job within a year after their studies!' 'The number of parents, who take on volunteer responsibilities in the Youth Centre have increased with 30 parents in two years!' These are just three examples of project indicators, which can be formulated according to the Logical Framework (LF) principles for a youth development project in a big slum area in Kampala City, Uganda. However, most statistical indicators are difficult to measure. And what do statistics say about structural change?
Mostly change can not be liniarly and logically explained...... Most structural change starts with behavioural change. Many times I hear people express after an inspirational workshop about social media; 'Tomorrow I am going to open an account at Twitter!', 'I will update my profile at Linkedin!' 'I wi…

One-minute video messages

'Present your workshop in one minute!' or 'Share a Testimonial - an inspiring story in one-and-half minute!' It is a new experiment Simon Koolwijk launched recently with Video-maker/ Facilitator, Marc van Seters. Both facilitators have been asked by the International Association of Facilitators - Benelux to interview the workshopleaders of the Conference 'Facilitator as a {2nd} Profession' by video. This event having 26 workshops about facilitation will take place on the 23rd September, 2011 at Kontakt der Kontinenten, Soesterberg, The Netherlands. Catching 'institutional inspiration' Workshop announcements: In one-minute the workshop leaders tell about their first and second profession, what participants can expect and what they will take home. 'It is an excellent opportunity to get to know beforehand the people, who will attend the Conference', says Simon Koolwijk. See video: workshop announcement: Facilitation on Twitter


How to deal as facilitator with an unsafe group?

It is five minutes before finalizing a Team Workshop on how to renew the approach of its service delivery for social work to the community. Sofar the group has created an 'inspirational vision' and has worked out the strategies.You feel that everything is okay. The group looks involved and everybody is participating.The waiter from the restaurant is informing the group, that the snacks are ready.You ask the group on what actions it should take the next 6 weeks to get the first strategies moving.Then, suddenly, the team leader takes charge of the conversation.He mentions 10 action points, including names of responsible people and deadline dates.The group looks shocked and intimidated. It is silent for a while.I check if everybody agrees.It remains silent.People nodd with a breath it is okay.The team leader says it is time to go to the restaurant.The food gets cold.We can evaluate up there! During the snack I am checking informally participants'feelings about the meeting.It w…