When a good client calls me with a question like that, I really want to help them out of their jam. So we used open ended facilitation techniques to guide the early sessions of their Strategic Plan Review session: Open Space, Appreciative Enquiry and the Medicine Wheel. They sat in a circle with no tables or documents, really talking to each other, at a deep level. This process cannot be rushed, and some participants began to get nervous that we would run out of time.
As the group got closer to crunch time, on the third day, we switched to SWOT analysis and other linear techniques, sitting at tables with access to their computers, policy manuals and similar supports.
As usual, the “aha” moment happened and the group found the essence of their new strategic direction. Then, the group revised the Strategic Plan live, together, with the text edited on a screen. Amazingly, the last session finished early and everybody got to leave and beat the traffic.
In retrospect, I think that the organization did itself a favour by taking the time in the “open” facilitation modes, which allow more heart and soul into the equation. This allowed a group cohesion and consensus to build, so that when it came time to apply the “linear - rational” modes, things fell into place surprisingly quickly.
David facilitated a series of public meetings for the City of Gatineau, using the "World Café" or "Urban Café" facilitation technique, as part of the PACE consulting team. He also conducted a training session for municipal staff. The public likes the World Café technique because it is a lively format in which all participants have the opportunity to express themselves on the topic at hand. People sit in small groups at tables, café style, and exchange points of view for about 30 minutes, then they change tables and continue the conversation on a different question that is linked to the overall theme for the evening. The tables have paper tablecloths and participants are encouraged to write or draw on them to illustrate their point. The evaluations submitted by participants show a high satisfaction rating.
As reported in local newspapers, David was the consultant on a project to restructure the organizations and agencies that have mandates in tourism in Prescott-Russell County. Under his guidance, a new non-profit corporation called Tourisme Prescott Russell Tourism was founded. It is jointly managed by a mixed Board comprised of two Mayors appointed by the County and seven private sector representatives elected by the membership. Forging such a new partnership in the public eye required a lot of diplomacy, so David was often in coaching and conflict resolution mode. A forthright media relations strategy was part of the recipe. At other points in the project, David conducted research, wrote analytical reports and proposed by-laws and policies to the new organization.
This story has a happy ending, the consultant's report did not end up on the proverbial shelf. Much of the credit for that outcome goes to the members of the study committee for the project: from the private sector, Claude Leclair of Casselview Golf Club and Peter Blais of Bourget Inn and Spa. From the United Counties, René Berthiaume, Mayor of Hawkesbury and Sylvain Charlebois, Director of Economic Development and Tourism. Two other important members were John Candie from the Prescott-Russell Community Development Organization and Kathy Chaumont from RDÉE.
We do love to garden! We attended a Permaculture workshop as follw-up to the training session we took as part of the Transitions movement. There, we realized that we had been practicing permaculture for years without "tagging" it with that nomenclature. So that inspired us to open our garden and grounds for visits. Lucie is taking the lead on this, for several years she has organized for the annual plant exchange in our village.
David recently facilitated three public meetings for the City of Ottawa on policy issues with respect to public pathways.
The one in Osgoode was attended by 280 PEOPLE!!
No wonder they hired a professional facilitator. That broke my previous personal record, which was about 150 participants at a public meeting some years ago.