Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ten energizers, games and exercises for training and facilitation on video

Games, energizers and exercises can be very useful in creating a safe and relaxed atmosphere in the group, but they can also be very helpful in building understanding in complex knowledge transfer or planning processes. Nicole Kienhuis and Simon Koolwijk filmed 10 exercises on video, which can be applied for trainings or facilitation events.
1. Trust:  This is a physical exercise, which helps to create a more relaxed atmosphere in the group. Finally it helps to build more trust amongst group members during an event.  Watch video:  Trust.
2. Two truths and a lie: This exercise is very practical for getting to know each other in the beginning of an event. It can help to break the ice and can stimulate a humoristic atmosphere in the group. Watch video:  Two truths and a lie.
3. Structured thinking: This exercise is a powerful introduction in explaining the importance of structured thinking. Especially in processes such as planning, design and curriculum development the exercise builds understanding why structured thinking can be very crucial in certain planning and development processes: Watch video:  Structured thinking.

4. Brainteaser:  ‘Think before you act!’ is the message of this exercise. Especially if strategic decisions need to be taken, this exercise builds understanding that thorough discussion and research is required. Watch video: Brainteaser.
5. The minefield: ‘Rely on the information from your partner!’  This is a teambuilding exercise which challenges people’s roles in accepting and relying on leadership. Watch video: The minefield.
6. Expressing emotions:  ‘Exaggerate your emotions’.  This exercise also helps to create a more relaxed atmosphere in the group. By exaggerating emotions people start to discover their potential on how they can express emotions in role plays or behavioral exercises. Watch video: Expressing emotions. 
7. The value of doubting:   Being too confident or too sure you have the right answer, can block people to be open-minded for new perspectives. This game challenges people to continuously doubt about the right answer. Watch video: The value of doubting.
8. Recognizing changes:  This exercise is an eye-opener in making people sharp in recognizing changes. It is a simple exercise, but definitely challenges people’s observations’ skills. Watch video: Recognizing changes.

9. Make your own circle:  “Think out of the box!”  Solutions can be very simple, but to find them requires a new way of creative thinking. This exercise is a good introduction in preparing people on ‘out of the box’ brainstorm sessions and developing their creativity.  Watch video:  Make your own circle.

10. Playful connections: A game about interaction.  It is a relaxing exercise in testing people’s concentration and focus in listening and responding.  The video shows how it can be applied for introducing a training session on social media.  But you can also use other words for introducing other training or discussion topics. Watch video:  Playful connections.  

If you want to consult literature on games and energizers, we advise Warming-ups and Energizers, author:  Marcel Karreman – 2010.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Technology of participation (ToP) – practical, useful, basic facilitation methods for increasing learning results in teaching

"Teach and train what inspires you!” This is an advice I got long time ago from a French teacher, when I was participating in a language course in Paris. “Read and study what interests you and teach what inspires you!”, he said. “This always makes learning easy! Because it gives energy!” “Inspiration from a teacher, always has an impact on others”.  “So study and teach, what you like to teach!”
This life story always comes back to me, when I train facilitators and teachers in the Technology of Participation Techniques (ToP). It is always fun to create an atmosphere of involvement and participation! The techniques are useful tools to optimize people’s/ student’s participation in the classroom. ToP has been developed by the Institute of Cultural Affairs – USA. In 1997 I was trained as a senior trainer in ToP methods in Phoenix, USA. There I had the opportunity to meet professionals in education, youth work and social work on how they had integrated the ToP basic facilitation methods in their work.  These visits inspired me to become a facilitator and trainer in facilitation and participatory educational techniques, as I am currently today. 

The Technology of Participation (ToP) methods
The ToP methods are basic facilitation methods, which have been tested in more than 50 countries around the world, in 24 time zones in various sectors in profit and non-profit organizations. The methods are simple, participatory, user friendly and have proven to be effective in different cultural settings around the world. The methods are culturally worldwide accepted and effective.
The ToP facilitation methods consist of 4 basic methods:

1. The Basic Conversation Method; A focus group discussion technique, that enables people to share observations, emotions, meaning and decisions.

2. The Brainstorm Workshop Method; A brainstorm method which generates ideas and perspectives from a core question assessing the knowledge in a group. Gradually the facilitator guides the group in bringing together individual ideas into prioritized and summarized answers, based on a consensus. Finally, the group reflects  and takes decisions on how it wants to move forward.
3. Action planning; In a 2 – 4 hour process, the group is taken through a journey of vizualisation, assessing the current reality, goal and commitment formulation, action and time planning. This technique enables groups to plan project in an efficient and participatory way.
4. Participatory Strategic Planning; The group is taken through a process of identifying its values and beliefs and is guided in formulating its mission and vision statement. In the current situation the group takes a step back and reflects on its fears and barriers. From there strategic choices are priortized and selected and concretisized into an operational plan of action. This method enables to ensure active participation of key stakeholders in strategic decision making.

Practical and useful for teaching and training
Each time when I conduct a training, teach a lesson or facilitate a workshop, I apply elements of the ToP methodology.  The Basic Conversation method is very practical in discussing video’s, role plays, literature, relevant key topics or even resolving difficult situations or conflicts in a group. I apply it regularly in monitoring and evaluation trajectories. The Basic Conversation Method can excellently be embedded in the Adult Learning Cycle (KOLB) for teaching practices. By asking questions, already a lot of knowledge and information is gathered from the group, before adding additional knowledge by the teacher or experts in the theoretical phase of the lesson.
The brainstorm workshop method is powerful in visualization and planning processes. It involves every member in the group and supports building ownership and consensus step by step. I apply this method many times in teaching and training situations for identifying the existing knowledge in the group.  It also fits perfectly in the Adult Learning Cycle (KOLB), and is a useful tool for monitoring and evaluation.
Technology of Participation (ToP) in The Netherlands
Training in the Technology of Participation methods are conducted by Facili2transform inThe Netherlands. Read more about ToP Training courses Group Facilitation Methods (GFM) and Participatory Strategic Planning (PSP).

Monday, September 16, 2013

Trust – An exercise for building trust in groups!

‘Trust’ is a very useful exercise in creating trust in groups during a training or facilitation event. The exercise is simple, easy to apply and promotes connections between people.  ‘Trust’ is  visualized by Nicole Kienhuis and Simon Koolwijk.    Watch the exercise at video: 

Friday, September 6, 2013

How to deal with your own pitfalls as a facilitator or trainer?

‘Shit happens!’  This is a quote from one of my colleague trainers/ facilitators,  that I still keep in my mind when I have had a difficult workshop or training. There are occasions when we as trainers/ facilitators are triggered or put off by a difficult group of participants. While reading the book ‘Good for the Group – Five mirrors for blind spots – The first self-help book for trainers’ written by Karin de Galan, I was both inspired and triggered to reflect on my own learning stage as a facilitator/ trainer. Last year I remember,  I had a participant in my workshop who kept complaining about his director after his director had left after a debriefing of 45 minutes. I tried my best to have his colleague managers to address  his own behavior, but it failed.  After this, I somehow frooze and was not able anymore in discovering ways to find meaningful contact with him and to re-energize the group. I remember, I felt one week very bad about this experience!  ‘Shit happens!’  But it was a learnful situation, since it helped me to reflect with colleagues and to re-look at my strategies what I could have done differently.

After reading Karin de Galan’s ‘Good for the group’  my perspectives on how to deal with difficult people has widened.  Something inside myself was emotionally triggered and therefore I was not able to deal with the situation. Now after reading the book,  I realize that I was afraid for looking for personal contact and address his feeling in the workshop under four eyes.   Realizing this event, I now more focus on checking people ‘s feelings one-to-one during a workshop,  if I feel that there might occur some resistance with the participant.  In most cases, my assumptions are not always valid and mostly there is something different happening with the mood of the difficult participant.  Sofar, the one-to-one talks have helped me to get these participants with a new mood and new energy back in the group process.  I feel now able to deal with my own uncertainty as a facilitator, but still see a lot of space for improvement. Karin de Galan’s book ‘Good for the group’ is a very helpful tool in this.

Karin de Galan is mentioning five models on how we can deal with a difficult situation, when we as facilitators are emotionally triggered or put-off in an event :

1. Fight, flight, freeze
Somebody might criticize your training as a boring event!  You might be judged as a boring person, too serious, not bringing any humor to the group.  This remark might be a trigger and as a trainer/ facilitator you might respond on three different ways.  Fight stands for arguing and disagreeing in words with the participant.  Flight, stands for not dealing with the remark. You avoid the comment and continue to do the training as you had planned. Freeze, stands for a disconnection between your head and your body.  You get a black out, are triggered by feelings you had in the past and are not able anymore with the situation in the ‘here and now’.  You take the criticism very personal and are dramatically hit by the response. You start to doubt about yourself. 
How can you deal with signals such as fight, flight and freeze?
Go from fight to curiosity. Ask questions to discover more about the other’s remarks.
Go from flight to courage. First recognize and admit your fear. Challenge your fear and take a step towards the other(s) and make a meaningful contact.
Go from freeze to feeling. Take a walk and create time to feel what you feel. If you don’t know the answer, admit this to the group. It can be a big release.  Or plan for a coffee break and use the time to re-focus your session. Both actions can contribute towards increased safety in the group.

2. Transactional analysis
Transactional analysis (TA) is another important tool on discovering your own pitholes as a trainer/ facilitator. TA is developed by the Canadian Psychiatrist Eric Berne, MD (1910 - 1970). The emphasis in TA lies on communication between people and transactions.  At any given time, a person experiences and manifests their personality through a mixture of behaviors, thoughts and feelings. Typically, according to TA, there are three ego-states that people consistently use:
Parent: a state in which people behave, feel, and think in response to an unconscious mimicking of how their parents (or other parental figures) acted, or how they interpreted their parent's actions.
Adult: a state of the ego which is at the level, where the person take full responsibility for his own behavior in the ‘here and now’. Learning to strengthen the Adult is a goal of TA. While a person is in the Adult ego state, he/she is directed towards an objective appraisal of reality.
Child: a state in which people behave, feel and think similarly to how they did in childhood.  The Child is the source of emotions, creation, recreation, spontaneity and intimacy.
According to Eric Berne, if people communicate, there are transactions. Your behavior as a trainer can trigger a participant to behave as a child, since your behavior can for example remind him of his authoritative father.     How do you respond?  Do you reinforce your behavior?  Or do you ask yourself a question first? How do I address this person?  You observe, feel and before you fall back in an old routine, dig further on how you can communicate at adult level.
These transactions regularly take place in training or facilitation events.  And if triggers have not been resolved from the past,  communication with a difficult participant can trigger your pitfall as a facilitator/ trainer. Therefore, the transactional analysis is a very helpful tool in discovering on how you can change undesired transactions into adult-adult communication patterns.

3. Rational Emotive Therapy (RET)
Rational Emotive Therapy (RET) deals on how to break through circles of negative behavior or interpretations.  RET has been developed by Albert Ellis. His theory is based on how people interpretate a situation, the belief they have about the situation and on how they deal with the situation. Albert Ellis stresses that it is important to verify your belief by asking feedback or explanation from the other person or other people.  Because asking or verifying is the clue towards adapting your beliefs about a situation. Karin de Galan mentions 5 patterns, which can be pitfalls for a trainer/ facilitator; 1. The perfectionist;  2. The love junk; 3. The low frustration tolerance person; 4. The moralist; 5. The disaster thinker.  Karin gives some practical examples on how the RET helps to adapt beliefs and have a new perspective on communication with a difficult participant.  One of the examples that confirmed my development as a trainer,  is that you can not please everybody.  There are situations that I have to play the role of a strict timekeeper in the training.  For some people the time is never sufficient and still want to continue to ask questions, despite the fact that the majority of the group needs to go for a break. For a long time, I felt guilty I had to cut off people by the end of a session.  Feedback has learned me that strict time management keeps the group fresh and energetic and that I have to accept that I can not please everybody in a training.

4. Transfer and contra transfer
Your behavior can trigger an extreme negative or positive behavior with the participants, since your presence can remind them from their childhood. The transfer that will take place, is that somebody might judge you as an arrogant person, since it reminds him of his father.  Or somebody, might admire and fall in love with you and only might judge you through positive means.  In this case, every critical remark to this person, will be judged as a rejection.  Transfers can take place at any moment, at any time.
The pitfall is that you reinforce the transfer of behavior to yourself the contra transfer;   If somebody admires you, you might start to think you are an excellent and perfect trainer.  The danger is that you lose contact with the group and not be open for critical feedback.  If somebody, might think you are arrogant, you might downsize your self-esteem and feel bad about yourself. 
How do you prevent a contra transfer?  Take care of yourself and be aware of your own strengthes. If you are confident about yourself, you are less sensitive to criticism. So know your weaknesses and take feedback not personal, but see it as an opportunity for growth.  So create a growth mind-set and ask for feedback and on how your participants prefer to learn.

5. Cognitive dissonance
The term ‘cognitive dissonance’ has been introduced by Leon Festinger. According to him, when a situation of tension occurs between the reality and our self-image, a situation of ‘cognitive dissonance’ is created.  An addicted smoker might not be open to admit that smoking in un-healthy, but will refer that his grandfather became 87 years as an addicted smoker. So he will say it is not dangerous.  ‘Cognitive dissonance’ deals with justifying of a situation which might be unjust. If the criticism from outsiders increases, you might start to criticize yourself.  A trainer might express; ‘You see, more people in the group say I am not good in facilitating role plays, so I am not qualified to do that!’  Self-esteem is dramatically lowered in this case.
However the behavior is not effective, since it doesn’t learn anything. Learning becomes possible, if you don’t take criticism as personal but consider it as valuable input for learning and improvement. Similar on how to deal with transfer and contra transfer, you need a growth mind-set and be open to ask for feedback.

Keep the black sheep on board
One quote that caught my attention in Karin’s book ‘Good for the Group’  is that you have to keep the black sheep (difficult people for a group) on board.  If they drop out, after that somebody else will take over this role.  The function of a black sheep is that is shows and stresses the diversity of a group and it helps to challenge the group to reflect on critical questions or different behavior.  The presence of such a person helps to increase the safety in a group. 
Summarized, Karin’s book ‘Good for the Group’ is worthwhile reading for every trainer and facilitator. It contributes towards the personal growth as a trainer/ facilitator.

Training ‘From dysfunctional towards productive behavior in groups – tools for the facilitator’
In 2013 and 2014 Chris van der Sanden and Simon Koolwijk will conduct the training ‘From dysfunctional towards productive behavior in groups – tools for the facilitator’.  This is a training or trainers, facilitators and managers with advanced facilitation skills. They will definitely highlight the strategies as have been mentioned by Karin de Galan in their book, but they will also address how to recognize dysfunctional behavior in groups and which tools to apply in transforming dysfunctional behavior towards productive behavior in groups.  Read more about this training at From disfunctional to productive behaviour in groups:  or ask for more information from Simon Koolwijk, e-mail.  

Friday, August 30, 2013

Connecting Video stories to Most Significant Change (MSC)

Most Significant Change is an excellent evaluation tool for measuring behavioral change with beneficiaries during a project period. MSC has a step based approach where personal stories from key stakeholders are collected, analyzed and verified. One of the key steps is the phase of defining the 'Domain of Change' and collecting the stories. This is the phase where the MSC-question is asked for a specific change in a domain.
For example:
(1) Looking back over the last 2 years, (2) what do you think was, (3) the most significant (4) change (5) in the development of your business (6) in your community?
Generally, three to five domains are a manageable number for conducting a MSC-evaluation. The stories are collected, analyzed, and verified from and with a selected group of beneficiairies. An important part is the process of drawing conclusions, lessons and recommendations. Involvement of the right stakeholders determines the quality of the outcome of the evaluation. Since recent years, video is increasingly used as a means of collecting MSC stories.

Based on a number of case studies, the Community of Practise Visuals4Development exchanged their experiences about three case studies;
1. Participatory Video and MSC with youth – Insight Share;
2. MSC as evaluation tool in an evaluation of a value chain project;
3. Visualizing story telling.
Based on discussions in the CoP Visuals4Development, lessons learned were shared on how to connect video stories to Most Significant Change (MSC)

1.       Participatory video and Most Significant Change
Insight Share conducted a webinar, where beneficiaries shared and collected most significant stories for lobby and advocacy purposes. Watch the webinar at:  Webinar Recording Insight Share – September 2012

International Advocacy Evaluation Community of Practice's Webinar on September 26, 2012 from iScale on Vimeo.

Lessons learned
  • Participatory video is a powerful tool to collect input from the beneficiaries for lobby & advocacy purposes:
  • Participatory video is an effective tool in enabling building bridges between  stakeholders;
  • Video is a useful tool in capturing MSC stories.  Read procedures for collecting MSC stories through video. However, the process requires a lot of technical support. (Cameras, laptops, video editing software, know how in video editing). And in most cases it requires more financial input. There are often other alternatives, that require less technical backup. So participatory video, when applied, needs to have a significant added value in the evaluation process;
  • An important condition needed is that the target group is open minded to be filmed on video. Not everywhere (especially in unsafe environments or political sensitive conditions), people feel free to express their views on video;
  • So video is not a very effective tool in voicing criticism. Appreciative inquiry questions are more relevant for the process of evaluation. Example of relevant questions are:  What went well? What would you do differently the next time?
  • The process of Participatory Video and collecting MSC stories needs to be embedded with clear goals within the context of an evaluation. The PV process should not be the goal, but it has to fit in a broader process within the evaluation.

2.       MSC as evaluation tool in an evaluation of a value chain project
In the evaluation of a value chain project, video evaluations were done with the beneficiaries in the project. Interviews were held with farmers, asking them Most Significant Change questions. What had changed for them during the project period in the domain of agriculture and marketing?  The stories were captured and they were shared during group discussions. During small group discussions, the best stories were selected and showed during the plenary discussions.

Lessons learned
  • Most significant video stories make a significant difference in having group discussions during the process of an external evaluation. It brings depth and broader understanding in the discussions. The visuality of things makes the discussions more intense.  They are an important reference for discussion.
  • Keep the video making simple. Just do the videoshots in one shot, so that editing is not needed. The Videos can immediately be used.  A digital camera, a laptop (without editing software) and a beamer are already sufficient. You even can show the videos in a place, without electricity. It saves time and keeps the process simple.
  • Make sure that the evaluation team and the project partners and beneficiaries involved understand and support the utilization of video in the process.
  • Make sure you have the permission from the beneficiaries and make clear on how the video will be applied. If needed ensure that confidentiality is secured.
  • Make sure you have clearly defined the Most Significant Change question for the video interviews and keep consistancy during the video making process
3.       Visualizing storytelling
One of the practisioners of the CoP worked for two weeks with in France. This organization is promoting participatory video and helps to reinforce social structures in France in applying participatory video in their work. During his stay in France he produced with the local staff of nine productions, where business people are sharing their life stories about their profession.  Read the article:  Storytelling as a tool for building bridges

Lessons learned
  • Storytelling can best be applied for methods such as Most Significant Change, Outcome Harvesting and collecting Anecdotical Evidence
  • Having more different people talking and voicing in a video gives more depth and keeps the viewer longer attracted in watching a video, if it comes to conducting an evaluation;
  • If you apply storytelling by video as a tool, it should be embedded in the context of an evaluation process. So the stories should support a discussion process, that comes when the videos are shared and shown.
  • Stories or anecdotes give more depth and taste to a videostory.

Broad consensus and transparancy as conditions for application of video in the evaluation process
Video has a big potential to be applied for collecting Most Significant Change (MSC) stories.  Depending on the political context, the goals of the evaluation, the evaluation process and the dissemination strategy, the evaluation team and the beneficiaries is advised to have a broad based consensus if video provides the additional value needed. Transparency and confidentiality and clear communication and understanding on how the video is applied in the process are essential conditions for making video and Most Significant Change a successful combination in an evaluation. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Minefield exercise – excellent game for building trust en discussing leadership roles!

Crossing the minefield blind folded.  One person is directed through a minefield with the assistance of a guide.  This game / exercise is excellent for building trust, discussing leadership roles and letting go responsibilities.  This game has been visualized by Nicole Kienhuis  and Simon Koolwijk.  Watch the exercise at the video:

Friday, July 26, 2013

Storytelling by video as a tool for building bridges

Collecting personal stories can provide some interesting insights on what is going on in a project or a community.  In june 2013, I worked for two weeks with  This organization, based in Salon de Provence – France, aims to strengthen organisations and structures of social work in applying participatory video for building social cohesion amongst people or communities. trains social workers, teachers, trainers who work with groups or communities. Their work is mainly based in France, but also participates in projects in Africa and Canada. Video productions are disseminated through their webtv channel at

Storytelling  by local entrepreneurs
Marseille – Provence has been designated in 2013 as cultural capital of Europe. Under the name MP13 various cultural activities are organized in Marseille and neighboring cities (Aix en Provence, Arlon, Salon de Provence) to promote the region in France and to other European countries. In the context of these festivities, we (I and  decided to create a serie of 8 video productions with the theme ‘Votre M├Ętier’ =  ‘Your Profession’.  Main aims were:
  1. To demonstrate examples of entrepreneurs in Salon de Provence showing their history, passion and why they decided to be based in Salon de Provence;
  2. To get a deeper insight in the entrepreneurs in the community to enable to build bridges in understanding;
  3. To practice with creating video productions.
One of my personal aims was to practice my French. 

For two weeks I worked with an intern. We decided to select ‘Storytelling’ as a tool for collecting the video stories. The video ‘Lessons from a Tailor’ was one of our inspirational videos, that helped us to develop the scenario.  Watch the video at:
In order to accomplish our aims, we asked the entrepreneurs the following guiding questions;
  • ·         What duties are you performing for your profession?
  • ·         What are you passionate about in your profession?
  • ·         How has your profession evolved?
  • ·         Share an anecdote or a special story marking the history of your business?
  • ·         What have you learned over the years?
  • ·         Why did you decide to have your business in Salon de Provence?
We had interviews with  a Hotelkeeper, a Pastry Chef, a Masseuse, a Greengrocer, a Hardware Dealer,  a Shoemaker, an Independent Trader in Interior and a Bookseller. During the production process we received feedback and suggestions from colleagues from by sharing our impressions and visuals.  A compilation of all video stories can be watched at the youtube channel  of Simon Koolwijk.   Watch one of the videos --- The Hotelkeeper:

The process helped to build bridges with the entrepreneurs and gave more insight in their passions and beliefs. The project also provided an opportunity to demonstrate the diversity of entrepreneurship in the City of Salon de Provence. Each entrepreneur having a different story, but all having the City as residential place in common.  The project provided us to practice and experiment with the tool of storytelling.

Participatory video projects
One of the participatory video projects from, that created high impact and caught my attention is about the ‘Beliefs from men and women’.   Watch the serie at ‘Croises d’hommes et de femmes’.  In this project women interview the men on how they perceive their role in the family and the society. This project was aimed at building bridges and improve understanding between men and women in various urban areas in France.
This project was started by social workers in sub-urban areas in France. They took about one year to build up relationships with families having relational problems. After building up peer-to-peer groups, after one year the women decided they wanted to make a participatory video where they wanted to interview the men on how they perceive their role. After that some of the productions were shared in groups discussions and local television debates. In France this is called ‘Plateau Participative’.   One video that was applied is called ‘Temoignages del Rio’.  The project generated a lot of discussions and supported the process of having better understanding between men and women.

Storytelling as a tool for evaluation
Video stories can have a powerful impact during an evaluation.  An important condition is that the stories are embedded under a common structure, with clear goals and are applied for in-depth discussions between different stakeholders in the evaluation process.  While comparing the various video stories,  the videos having more different interviewees show more perspectives and catch more attention while discussing sensitive issues.  Stories with one key actor show an impression and a feeling. These stories can be a reference point for discussions between different stakeholders.  Video stories are excellent evidence for evaluation methods such as the ‘Most Significant Change’ or ‘Anecdotical Evidence method’   or ‘Outcome Harvesting’ (Zaitun’s Story).    These are qualitative methods which support quantitative data collection techniques and generate new perspectives and deeper understanding for  discussion during participative evaluation processes.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Make your own circle – An exercise for solving complex issues!

‘Make your own circle’ is a very useful exercise in thinking through the process of solving complex issues. The exercise can be used for training courses, facilitation events or discussions which are linked to solving complex problems.  ‘Make your own circle’ is  visualized by Nicole Kienhuis and SimonKoolwijk.    Watch the exercise at video: 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Expressing emotions – Exaggerating feelings can be very humoristic and bring sensitive issues in perspective!

'Expressing emotions’ is a very useful exercise in bringing people in a relaxed atmosphere during a training or facilitation event. The exercise is humoristic and it can bring sensitive issues in perspective.  ‘Expressing Emotions’ is  visualized by NicoleKienhuis and Simon Koolwijk.    Watch the exercise at video: 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Brainteaser – Do not jump to conclusions too quickly!

Do not jump to conclusions too quickly! That is the message in the Brainteaser, visualized by Nicole Kienhuis and Simon Koolwijk.  Patience can be a valuable attitude in decision making.  Watch the Brainteaser:

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Facilitation skills as a key requirement for evaluators

Is monitoring and evaluation a hype? Or is a sustainable change taking place in international development, that embeds M & E processes in the structures of organizations,  governments and projects?  According to Michael  Quinn Patton, lecturer in the E-learning course “Emerging practices in development evaluations”  offered by MyMandE, the demand for M & E has increased dramatically during the last couple of years in international development.  Due to the increasing demand from citizens, civil society and donor organizations for more accountability and transparency, governments and development organizations are investing more and more in M & E systems, staff training in M & E, mid-term reviews, learning networks and evaluations. Knowledge exchange and an increasing need for ‘lesson learning’ under development professionals accelerates this demand.

M & E processes become ownership driven
The client is increasingly becoming the starting point of evaluations.  M & E processes become more client- and less donor driven. The role of donors is changing from the demanding, controlling and directive investor  into the supportive and guiding partner.  Evidence which is showing this development towards ownership driven evaluations are:
  • Learning questions,  stakeholders and evaluation tools are formulated by the client with support of the evaluator;
  • Project management and staff are fully involved in the evaluation design, data collection, analysis and the process of formulation of conclusions and recommendations;
  • (Mid-term) Evaluations become a tool of lesson learning;
  • Project indicators are aligned with National indicators;
  • Governments and local development organizations increasingly invest in capacity development of their staff and structures  facilitating monitoring & evaluation practices; 
  • Electronic discussions groups, such as Yammer, Linkedin and Facebook are used as tools supporting knowledge exchange processes between development professionals.

Watch the video: Introduction to Evaluation:  

A changing role of the evaluator
These development show that indeed a sustainable change is taking place. M &E is becoming a necessity and essential activity in organizational development and project interventions supporting organizational performance and lesson learning.  This transformation that is taking place in the profession of M & E, is putting new demands and requirements on the evaluator.  For enabling the delivery of quality evaluations, the evaluator requires:
  • Good communication and facilitation skills;
  • Knowledge and experience in using and applying social media and internet tools;
  • Experience in applying wide diversity of evaluation tools. Knows how to collect and analyse statistical data complemented by video or visual methods;
  • Didactical skills in explaining concepts and practices about M & E;
  • Leadership skills to facilitate mid-term reviews or evaluations involving local staff and beneficiaries;
  • Expertise to encourage exchange about ‘benchmarks’ or ‘best practices’ in the domain the evaluator is doing his evaluation.
Evaluation becomes ownership driven. The project implementing organisation is the driver in its own M & E process. The evaluator is moving from an expert to an expert having facilitating and communication skills as a key requirement.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Playful connections: The Social Media Energizer

Playful connections is the second exercise – energizer Nicole Kienhuis and SimonKoolwijk visualized by video. The exercise can be applied as a warm-up, icebreaker or a fun game at trainings or facilitation events, especially as an introduction to discuss issues on social media. Watch:  Playful connections – The Social Media Energizer.