Workout: July 17, 2013

Design Goals and Principles

  • Practice difficult conversations
  • Practice design and facilitation

Workout Plan

What Happened


One of my participants lamented not having a chance to practice difficult conversations last week. Because things got thrown off by a difficult week 4, I decided essentially to do a repeat of last week’s high-level design, except a switch in emphasis (do a quick difficult conversations exercise, then focus on designing meetings). However, that participant showed up late, so I started with the designing meetings workout, and that ended up taking the whole time, meaning I scrapped both the difficult conversations and also the five key questions exercises.

Design Practice

  • I started with a real design problem — mine, specifically doing community-building engagements around bootcamp. So not only was I the client, but the participants all had first-hand experience in the subject-matter. The other advantage of me being the client is that I had already thought the problem through quite a bit. Often, a lot of your interaction with clients is simply helping them get clear about certain fundamental questions they’ve neglected to think about. Since I had already thought about those questions, I was confident we could do this exercise in an accelerated way.
  • Despite its accelerated nature, we still needed the whole session to get through the workout. This stuff takes time. It reiterated my lesson from week 4: I really have to break down designing meetings workouts into something very incremental. This might be different if I have a larger group with varying skill levels.
  • I chose to assign a leader of the group. Part of the purpose was to accelerate the process, part of it was to give that particular participant more practice in leaning in. As expected, she was a reluctant formal leader, but she also did very well. I was able to reinforce the notion that good leadership is facilitative, not necessarily directive. The participant admitted that she had to work on shifting her mindset, given her previous (and poor) experiences with directive leadership.
  • One participant pulled out the framework from last week right away.
  • Overall, the group dynamic was excellent, again demonstrating the quality of this group. Everyone contributed, there was pushback, and for the most part, they covered everything I hoped they would. The one exception: Nobody asked how many people I was expecting. Big group physics miss!
  • The resulting design was okay, but it took them a long time to get there. Again, practice! Really needing to figure out a way to let them implement their designs in the context of bootcamp so they can get some real-time feedback.

Lessons Learned

Went Well Could Be Better
  • Adapted the design appropriately based on circumstances, and finished bootcamp strong.
  • I need to use my own ethnography worksheet to take notes during discussions so I can track both content and meta more easily.
  • I want to incorporate a scorecard into the process, so that people can track their feedback. Kangaroo court!

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