Monthly Archives: January 2013

On the theme of iterations

Iterations are repeated processes that allow you to move forward in thinking or designing or problem solving of some sort. Sometimes iterations lead to baby steps forward; sometimes to leaps. Most fruitfully, these are collaborative processes where one person’s idea creates a starting point for the next idea.

This was vividly illustrated in an energetic group exercise I facilitated in the Fall. The group was newly formed—bringing together a number of different departments into a larger whole. In three separate groups, they set out to solve a task using marbles, pipes and a race course. The three groups ably accomplished the task by using different methodologies within widely different time frames. Some followed the rules; some worked around the rules. You could see the various personalities at work.

Then we ran the exercise a second time, only they had to do it as one whole group—and they couldn’t use the same methodologies as they had in the first iteration of the exercise. This is where the marvelous came in. Rather than being stuck and taking much longer, this ignited the larger group. Animated discussions ensued.

New ideas, drawn from the first iteration, were launched, considered, dismissed or accepted. Once a new idea was accepted, it was immediately vetted by the group and new suggestions or improvements were made in rapid-fire fashion. In a substantially shorter period of time, the group as a whole came up with yet another very creative solution to the problem and executed it successfully.

There was a good deal of dancing and triumphant arm-raising at the end because collectively they beat their individual times. Everyone won.

This was a powerful experience to take back into the workplace. We saw and felt that everyone had something to add; that working collaboratively and openly, we can come to remarkably better solutions; and that the energy of a well-functioning group can be much greater than the sum of its individual parts.

Let them speak

Introducing World Vision staff to the potential and possibilities of children telling their own stories. (used with permission)

World Vision is embarking on a new direction with its communications between children and the sponsors who support the work in communities where they live. Taking advantage of the technology that already exists and is used by many children, the organization is encouraging children to tell their own stories of development—their own way.

I was able to visit a group of children in El Salvador recently who were fully engaged in communications in their community. With great enthusiasm, a number of them ran a weekly radio program—telling jokes, singing songs and talking about social issues in their community. Their confidence and passion for their message was infectious. Proud parents rimmed the room where they performed.

We worked with World Vision to put together a video for internal consumption that outlines this new direction and inspires the possibilities it has to offer. In order to drive home the point, we had the voice over done by a child journalist from Goa, India. She did a great job. The talented Matt Ternoway designed and animated the video to be playful and a bit child-like. Have a look and a listen.


Happy new year!

Haliburton blue sky through birch

Haliburton blue sky through birch on the first day of 2013.

2012 was rich and varied–full of challenging projects, interesting clients, stimulating material to absorb, new tools to learn and good relationships to build on. We are grateful for those who journeyed with us and look forward to all that 2013 has in store.

May 2013 be a year that is more about peace, more about understanding, more about caring for each other and for the earth. And may you find a safe and fulfilling path through all it brings.