Facilitation lessons learnt

by Lilia Efimova on 11 October 2006

There is part of my work that I hasn’t been writing much about over last two years. Not because it’s so confidential, but because most of the complexities that I had to face and to learn from are still too complex for a blog post. I am about to disengage from the project to focus on my PhD; I hope I’ll be able to reflect on the things properly one day, but I also need a placeholder for some of the lessons learnt (or, to be more precise for some things where I’ve learnt a lot without having an answer :)

  • how your relations with specific people in a project implicitly define the commitments you make and how painful it could be if those unspoken ‘personal constellations’ are changed
  • how important is time for developing a shared language, how much you should fight for an opportunity to have it and that the best way to do so is still doing things together and not talking about doing them
  • how hard is facilitation of technology adoption, especially if you are already in a technology-mediated settings
  • how to make sure things are on track without having the responsibility or means to ‘manage’ (and without doing them yourself ;)
  • how to communicate online – hmm, more precisely: how to get ‘optional’ feedback online, how to make decisions asynchronously, how to orchestrate selection of media to fit everyone even if there is nothing there that fits everyone, how not to spam everyone, but still have everyone updated
  • how not to be involved, even if it’s good for the project
  • how to tame passion
  • how to introduce things (slowly :)
  • how to balance between decision-making and training
  • how to make decisions about technology design with subject-matter experts who don’t know much about technology
  • how to write difficult things in email without ruining the relation behind
  • how shared working practices could grow in a heavily distributed project
  • how to go back and forth between languages; how it is much more than the languages themselves and the need to switch, but the whole cultures and mindsets behind
  • how to plan and manage things you can’t plan and manage (community life and support :)
  • how to balance paid long-term members and recently joined volunteers in the same team

One day (when I finish my PhD and get back to doing things instead of doing research ;) I will be much better facilitator because of all the experiences above :)

Archived version of this entry is available at http://blog.mathemagenic.com/2006/10/11.html#a1843; comments are here.

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