Which thoughts do you give as facilitator to the last workshop day? Nearly done or take-off? Some extra emphasis to get the best out of it? Some extra push to make ideas and resolutions flying?

flight arrival

The first day

The start into the first day is crucial. The tone makes the music. And if the start is missed, the whole process can get stuck. In the preparation processes I was involved in as facilitator a lot of emphasis was given to the take-off.

The last day

Lets jump to the last workshop day. How well do we design the workshop’s end? The closing is often difficult to prepare, as we don’t know what exactly comes out of the process. We foresee workshop evaluation, wrap-up, and next steps. Often time becomes short, even shorter than planned. We have to hurry. Some participants leave early for understandable reasons.

That’s why I like Steve Davis’ flying metaphor:

We don’t rush off as soon as we arrive!  Please remain seated until the plane comes to a complete stop.

I remember as participant I often went home, with a bunch of notes I wanted to organize. The insights and ideas were turning in my head. I wanted to formulate them but I never did. The workshop documentation ended up untouched on my bookshelf. Honestly, often I could have done better.

Sometimes I did better:

  • In a creativity workshop we wrote a pitch to ourselves on a serviette. This was unusual and I still remember what I have written: “Try a new idea in every workshop.”
  • At the KM4dev Meeting in Lisbon we wrote the workshop report jointly.
  • At the end of the Evaluation Revisited Workshop we made a mental journey through the different discussions and presentations before we formulated key messages on a postcard to ourselves.

Workshop time is privileged time. People are out of their routines. They have the luxury to focus on one topic (especially when no WLAN is available). But what happens once they step out of the protected workshop environment and head back to their busy workplace with full mailboxes, meeting agendas and to-do-lists?

The last day begins at the first day

Moments for transfer or reflection throughout the whole workshop give participants time to breath and to shape their personal questions and conclusions.

  • Journaling is a great way for personal reflections; it redirects attention to participants themselves, their work and context, and their own actions.
  • Reporting starts ideally at the first day. The best and most fun way is to do it jointly: Social Reporting is engaging and deepens the reflective practice.
  • Writing take-home messages on unusual objects or surfaces makes them memorable. Or fill insights and actions plans into a nicely labelled “wrap-up box” (inspired by gogamestorm: Design The Box). I could also imagine adapting the game “Make A World” into something like “my way home” to visualize planned next steps.
  • Or include a closing circle in the Open Space spirit.
  • And I just discovered this: “A poem of our closing” by Chris Corrigan. Lovely!

The workshop designed to include the last day makes the difference. How do you assist participants to carry their learning further? Do you have great ideas to do it the fun way that sticks?

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