Earlier in the week, I posted a piece on LinkedIn about my recent, delightful experience with delivering a session on Appreciative Living —Seeing the Positive in Life, for Agile Austin, Agile Leadership Network of Houston, Mile High Agile, and Agile SoCal.
In brief, the session on Monday was almost two hours in length, (half an hour longer than usual) with approximately 45 people. My session design created opportunities to learn about Appreciative Inquiry principles and apply them to our lives in that moment. Participants connected with each other by talking and chatting with each other in the large group, and in trios.
When a colleague asked me about the experience, I was surprised by my strong, heartfelt response. I started wondering what made this session feel markedly different.
I believe it was the intersection of time and connection that created a richer experience than previous sessions. I’ll admit, I love Venn diagrams though perhaps my thinking is better represented by a line graph or discussion of a causal relationship.
And as I ponder further, and think more expansively, I am struck by more variables that I will add to this exploration. Perhaps two variables, the nature of audience members’ working relationship with each other, and setting/occasion.
In this instance, we had a luxurious amount of time for interaction. That spacious container, the nature of the setting (a MeetUp) and the group (their collegial relationships—they did not work for the same organization) enabled us to have some deep conversations.
All these ideas plus my passion for creating interactive experiences have led to me to ask the following questions in my quest to design stellar experiential encounters:
- Who are the people involved —literally, what are the variables I can discover in advance?
- How will they be showing up—voluntarily, prepared, interested, preoccupied or some combination thereof ?
- What atmosphere/container can be created through pre-work?
- What are the dynamics of the group—power, gender, race, class, sexual orientation, ability/disability? What can I learn about these variables in advance, and how will I plan to be sensitive to them throughout the session?
- How will the gathering begin?
- Is there enough space/time in the session for creating authentic connection among participants—time for reflection, talking with others in small groups, sharing in the large group?
- What other challenges might arise to impact my guiding the conversation toward self-reflection, understanding, interpersonal connection, and engagement with the practices after the session?
The Appreciative Inquiry work I am doing in these MeetUps and in the Appreciative Living Learning Circles is such a delight. If you are interested in learning more about these offerings, reach out to me with your ideas or questions. You can learn more about the Learning Circle on blog page of my site.