Workout: July 10, 2013

Design Goals and Principles

  • Practice difficult conversations
  • Practice design and facilitation

Workout Plan

What Happened


  • Good recovery from last week. Nice to have the full group.
  • Was originally going to devote the whole workout to difficult conversations, but one participant’s work need made for an excellent exercise around designing meetings as well as an opportunity to make up for last week’s debacle.

Design Practice

  • Scheduled 15 minutes. Took 40. The extra time was valuable.
  • Shared a very high-level framework up-front (in response to feedback from the participants over P2):
    • What’s the goal?
    • Group physics?
    • Generative questions?
  • Every participant contributed. Overall design ideas were good.
  • Upside of the exercise was that our participant was able to put the ideas into practice immediately, then report-back on what happened. Downside was that the other participants weren’t able to see for themselves.
  • Glad to be able to have a good workout around designing meetings to make up for last week.

Difficult Conversations

  • Overall, the role play worked very well. The planning alone was a good exercise, but being able to do it for real (practice!) and get immediate feedback was valuable. It was great to see how someone fairly skilled and thoughtful could still find the actual doing challenging, which again emphasized the value of practice.
  • Need to allocate at least 10 minutes just for people to share their scenarios with each other.
  • Need to be clearer about scenario guidelines. Specifically:
    • This has to be an exercise for the participant in improving difficult conversations. Not useful to design the exercise around someone else who needs practice if that person isn’t in the room.
    • Need to decide the role that the person coming up with the scenario will play. That person definitely has to play him or herself for the second part of the role play, but it might be more valuable to have that person play someone else for the first part in order to develop empathy.
  • Clipboards would have been useful.
  • Only had time to do one scenario due to the extension on the designing meetings exercise.


  • P2 is working better, so migrating there.

Lessons Learned

Went Well Could Be Better
  • Both exercises were strong. Definitely need to include them next time.
  • Thought I wouldn’t need clipboards because plan was to use table, but clipboards would have been useful for difficult conversations exercise, as people were moving around.
  • When I do this the next time, I (hopefully) won’t need to include a designing meetings workout here, which means everyone will be able to participate in the role play.

I'd love to hear what you think! Please leave your comments below.