Purpose of These Learning Conversations To provide Board members with skills to facilitate learning conversations with membership groups in MAVA The l

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1 Facilitating Learning Conversations Dr. Kathleen E. Allen Allen and Associates

2 Purpose of These Learning Conversations To provide Board members with skills to facilitate learning conversations with membership groups in MAVA The learning conversations is a technique that is being used to gather ideas and generate insights to help frame up the strategic plan

3 The Power of Questions Ask participants to answer questions with questions Questions lead the conversation to deeper and deeper levels of reflection and insight Not everyone will do this initially the facilitator can take statements and reframe them into questions to help model this technique Statements can invoke discussion and disagreement generating segues from the purpose of the learning conversation

4 Well Packed Questions Questions worth asking can act as attractors around which diverse ideas and energy gather. They combine and recombine in new patterns of meaning and value for the future.

5 Individual Facilitator Capacities Able to facilitate equal voice Able to help make meaning of the conversation lift up ideas or connect ideas Holds the container within which the conversation is held (non-ego driven) Skillful at facilitating the process Open body language

6 Body Language Body Hand Gestur e Head THESE COMMUNICATE POSTIVE EXPECTATIONS Open Erect Leaning Forward Open hands Steeping Hand to chest Touching Straight Nodding up and down THESE COMMUNICATE NEGATIVE EXPECTATIONS Crossed Arms Legs crossed away Cold Shoulder Tapping fingers Hiding mouth Finger wagging Closed/clenched hand Shaking back and forth Tilted Bowed

7 Body Language Facial Eyes THESE COMMUNICATE POSTIVE EXPECTATIONS Smiling Relaxed mouth Alert Ready to listen Pupils dilated Wide open Direct contact THESE COMMUNICATE NEGATIVE EXPECTATIONS Tight-lipped Jaw muscles clenched Grim Smile Raised eyebrows Frown Looking down nose Lack of contact Narrowed

8 Role of Facilitator Hold the container of the learning conversation Set the framework for the meeting Design / choose physical space that facilitate the learning conversation Captures learning during the conversation (either by lifting up / summarizing themes or inviting participants to do so) Take learning notes

9 Beliefs of Facilitator Matter Collaborative wisdom is found when individual intelligence is combined with others Tensions are a pre-condition for generative learning Common purpose do the participants share a common purpose for the gathering Confidence in the capacity of the group

10 Environment Welcoming physical environment Welcoming emotional environment Honesty learning is enhanced when people are honest about what they are thinking and feeling Appreciate diversity (all kinds)

11 Process Spirit of inquiry: use processes that reinforce a spirit of curiosity and inquiry Meaning making: notice how individual are connecting the conversation to other topics and making meaning of the conversation Reflective practice: reflect on the process as well as the content Reward risk-taking Celebrate the work

12 Framing Questions What creative tensions do you see in MAVA? What external forces are affecting the field? What opportunities do you see? What is working well? What needs to be improved / changed? What are our core values / what do we want to protect as we move forward?

13 Learning Notes Capture the learning and ideas that occurred in the conversation See sample from handout

14 Lifting Up Themes and Pattern / Provocative Ideas After the conversation: Identify main themes and typical questions that are connected to a theme Be prepared to share verbally and in written form your insights, observations, and content from your learning conversation at next board learning conversation

15 Strategic Imperatives Marketing, communication and branding Developing a culture of reflection, flexibility and learning Partnerships and Stakeholders Connections & Linkages Technology Financial strength People, Org. and Structure Data & Assessment Key Questions How do we tell our story? What is the organizational identity that integrates all of our programs? Who knows about us in the community and what do they think about us? How can we enhance our communication and marketing to the community? Who do we need to market to? What is the piece of real estate we want to Own in people s minds? How can we use our volunteers as a way to get our message out? How can we strengthen our ability to reflect given the action bias in our work? What structures and processes support a culture of reflection and learning? What new or improved capabilities are needed in our staff? How do we retain and optimize flexibility? What new ways of organizing are needed? What do we need to unlearn to prepare ourselves for the future? How do our current partnerships enhance our impact? What value do we offer to our current and potential partners? Who should we be in partnership with? What are the different ways we can partner? What alliances can leverage our work to strengthen connections and engagement in community? What processes and structures must change to support our mission and organizing intent? How can we leverage technology? What data do we currently gather? What are the gaps? What kind of data do we need to know? Agency wide vs. program specific data Assessment how do and can we assess our impact on our clients, partners, and community? How can we develop a stable and diverse revenue stream? How can we attract support and resources to underpin our work?

16 Mission Imperative Organizing Intent and and Focus Impact Key Questions What core purpose and focus informs all of our work? What processes inform the way we accomplish all of our work? (e.g. brokering, self organizing, partnering, etc.) How do individuals and communities change as a result of working with us? Will our current programs be the programs that enhance our future? What may need to be changed to sustain a strong CVS into the future? Are our programs resourced enough? What attracts people to CVS? What can attract people to CVS? What will draw in the baby boomer generation to the CVC and its work? What is the deep wisdom that is ageless and held in this organization? What is the CVS go to organization for? What reason do you exist in the communities mind? Programs / New Ways of Working What are the new ways of doing our work? How well do our current programs carry out the mission of the organization? How are our programs attracting volunteers and interest in the community? How are our programs working together to support each other? How might our programs need to change / adapt in the future? Branding and Identity Core Values What are our Core Values? Do we all understand and share them? How do they enable or constrain our options?

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