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  Skill of the Week

Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0120 | September 30, 2003 | 9,000 Subscribers

Intro to Appreciative Inquiry. New 4-week Teleclass Starts Oct 7th at 2PM EDT. Click here for info.

Check out this basic teleclass for Facilitators. Starts October 20th at 8PM EDT. Click here for details.

Click here
to learn more about our new Virtual University for Facilitators.

picture of Steve Davis, editor of the Master Facilitator Journal.From the Publisher: 

Dear friends,

This week's article explores the relationship between professionalism and authenticity. It starts by looking at the enigma of
the "Laura Love Band," how they deliver great music and connect with their audience while being the goofiest bunch we've ever seen.

Upcoming Teleclasses:

1) Our next "Appreciative Inquiry " Teleclass starts October 7th and runs four consecutive Tuesdays through
October 28th, from 2:00-3:00 PM EDT. Add this new skill to your facilitation and coaching by learning how to come from a positive, "what works" perspective when working with individuals and groups. See details and registration info at the end of this issue.

2) Our next "Random Acts of Facilitation" Teleclass runs for five consecutive weekdays from Monday, October 20th through Friday, October 24th, from 8:00-9:00 PM EST. We're running this one a little later in the day than usual for our international clientel. So far, response has not been very good. If you're interested in taking this course at another time, please let us know what format you prefer to support our scheduling. Let us know the time of day you prefer, including time zone, and whether you prefer classes that run 4-5 consecutive days or those that run once weekly.

Click on the relevant banners to the right for further info and registration for these classes.

If any of you have had interesting experiences with groups as either
a participant or as a facilitator, please tell us about it. We may invite you to interview with us to highlight your story as a case study for a future issue.

Thanks for your support!
Steve Davis


GAME Skill

Does "Being Professional" Evolve Your Audience?
Get that "lightening up" is a mark of the real pro..

The Point

The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between
work and play.

--Arnold Toynbee, author--

We recently attended the "MillPond" Festival in Bishop, CA. with a rather eclectic blend of musicians from all over the US and Europe in attendance.

One of several inspirations we received at this concert was presented by the "Laura Love Band." Their level of skill to deliver on the promise of the evening...great music...was undeniable. Each musician in the band was obviously a master.

What struck us about this band, in contrast to their great music, was the fact that they had to be the funniest and goofiest performers we'd ever seen! Laura herself was completely uninhibited. She often acted like a child with her yelling, cackling, and joking in the midst of their musical magic. One could actually view an aspect of their behavior as very "unprofessional"...if one wanted to.

What I saw was a group who made play of everything, from the introduction of a new song, to the introduction of band members, to creating drama on stage to get the audience participating. They used lyrical and poetic language in their discourse with the audience ...everyone loved them and didn't want them to leave the stage!

his band connected with their audience like none I've ever seen. And they were just having a whole lot of fun being their creative selves...being like children and practicing their craft. Being playful AND being professional...what a concept! Maybe it's just me, but facilitators and presenters who were polished and professional have never left me with any lasting memory or value.



So what's the facilitation parallel? I'll have to admit that I have fallen pray in my past to a concern about looking professional while on stage. And by the way, just what the heck does "being professional" mean. We say it so often, I felt compelled to pull the definition on this:

Professional: Conforming to the standards of a profession. Having or showing great skill.

Stop acting professional, be professional and act alive! I doubt anyone would disagree with the fact that a great facilitator will have mastered a certain breadth of skills in the management of people and processes. What can get us tripped up though in our desire to "be professional" or "skilled," is trying to "act" professional. Modeling the act of "Being Real" is one of the greatest gifts a facilitator brings to their group. After all, when was the last time that someone "being professional" inspired you to do more, think more, be more, relate more?

What does a real pro look like? The real pros I've witnessed have found their authenticity and it shows. They tend to be most comfortable being their quirky, sometimes crazy, selves. They can let go, have fun, and help others cut through their serious masks to see that every problem has at least one solution, and that solutions can be had such that everyone's needs are met. They see the world through their own eyes in a fresh new way, resisting the pull of group think or "conventional wisdom."

To be or not to be...professional. We're not saying that you should just show up to your groups unprepared and unprofessional. Get to know your group, do your homework, and be prepared so you can let go and really hear your group, and enjoy them and the process.

Aim for results, not just professionalism. Some clients, professional as they are, have called you in to help them with problems their professionalism hasn't touched. Some groups who pride themselves on their professional nature also take themselves too seriously. They operate with a lightness deficit, operating in a mode which I will technically refer to as "Standard Operating Paradigms Paralyzing Effective Directions" (STOPPED). Sometimes a lighter, more serious point of view opens the door to the creative insights that can best solve their problem. Sometimes we need to "get crazy" to cut through stale thinking.

If you ask most clients what kind of facilitator they'd rather have, one that seems professional or one that can get them the results they're after, I think you know what the typical reply might be.

A story of the "Professional" facilitator. About 15 years ago, the college where I worked was going through quite an upheaval. Everyone was upset about something, including feeling unheard by the administration. I had just been to a conference on "shared governance" which were the buzz words at that time. There was a fellow (a professor from Stanford University) there that gave a memorable talk about how to help your college develop a structure for creating shared decision-making between the administration, faculty, staff and students. I excitedly returned to my campus and carefully shared this great opportunity with the college President. It took many sessions of me mainly listening to his fears to get him to commit to an all-staff meeting to first deal with everyone's gripes and concerns. It took several more of my listening sessions to get his commitment to hire an outside facilitator to further work through issues that the staff was having.

I immediately thought of this fellow I heard at the conference and who I knew had the expertise to help us. He ended up visiting our campus several times to facilitate all-staff meetings. On his first meeting I was a bit hesitant. After all, we were a small community college in a rural area and he was from a large elite private university. My fears were immediately put to rest as he came in the door in his shorts and sandals and wild Hawaii-style shirt. He was so funny and friendly and put everyone at ease, especially the President. We couldn't get enough of him. We had more FUN getting very important work accomplished for the college. Staff got out their concerns, they had their fights, he had us yell at each other, cry, get frustrated and resolve issues. I soon found out that this silly, funny man, was as
professional as anyone in a three piece suit and tie with briefcase in hand. He brought his Facilitators Tool Kit instead.

After he finished with us, we were ready to create our own shared governance model. It wasn't easy, but we had worked through a lot of our roadblocks because of his ability to get us to laugh at ourselves. By the way, he was the most professional man I have ever met.
(Story submitted by Susan Smith).

Would you like to republish this or other articles from the journal? If you'd like to reprint this article in another publication, you are free to do so providing you follow these guidelines.


How do you view "being professional?" How does being professional rank with being real for you? How can you have lots of fun AND be professional at the same time? We'd love to hear from you. Please email us your comments.

Health Healing and Amuse System: Humor As Survival Training, by Paul McGhee

This book discusses the latest research on 1) the physical health benefits resulting from humor (references are included), and 2) how humor helps cope with stress. It then presents a hands on 8-Step Program for learning to develop the basic foundation skills required to use humor to cope with stress and remain productive on the job on the tough days. The book is widely used by companies that want to help employees learn to lighten up on the job. It is designed to help you learn to use humor in everyday life. Dr. McGhee is internationally known for his own research on humor, it's benefits, and the development of humor skills.

What's New?
MFJ "Ask" Campaign

We're trying something new here at MFJ in our efforts to tune into what our readers are up to and what they need to support their facilitation work.

What's the single most important question you have about facilitation?
We'll do our best to reply with some helpful comments. Thanks for playing!

Your Name
Email Address
My single most important questions is...


About the Publisher
Steve Davis helps facilitators, coaches, consultants and leaders who are struggling to
present themselves confidently, empower their groups, enhance their facilitation skills,
and build their businesses on and off line. Please email or call me at 805-489-4130 to schedule a Free exploratory session, or to share your suggestions and ideas for the journal. If you find this newsletter helpful, please forward it to your friends. If you'd like to reprint this article in another publication, you are free to do so providing you follow the guidelines here. Thanks for reading!

In the Spotlight
A Provocative Proposal for Unleashing the Power of What Works...

Join us for this 4-week TeleClass with experts, Patricia Clason and Bert Stitt starting October 7th, 2PM EDT


This four session series on Appreciative Inquiry, is a facilitation strategy for intentional change that identifies the best of "what is" to pursue dreams and possibilities of "what could be." Within these classes we will explore the four dynamics of AI, Discovery, Dream, Design and Delivery. Plan to bring with you the challenges you have encountered or are experiencing in the group/organizational change process. These sessions will be interactive and we will encourage discussion of specific situations in which Appreciate Inquiry might be applied.

The Eight Assumptions of Appreciative Inquiry, Tuesday, October 7th

Explore the nature of assumptions in an organization/group. We will define and discuss the base assumptions of AI, how they affect the change process and how we may have experienced them already in our facilitation practice.

The Six Core Principles of Appreciative Inquiry, Tuesday, October 14th

Understanding the DNA of Appreciative Inquiry gives us a foundation upon which we can build the infrastructure of a change process that works.

The Five Steps to Appreciative Inquiry, Tuesday, October 2st

From creating a provocative proposal to manifesting a destiny, each step is crucial to the process of Appreciative Inquiry. We get to incorporate the "buzzwords" of the last decade, Innovation, Empowerment, Continuous Leaning, Partnership, and Making A Difference, into a process of change that is FUN! Imagine the possibilities!

Outcomes and Opportunities, Tuesday, October, 28th

This session will be a celebration of learning about what worked and what didn't work for class participants as they applied the concepts of AI in their practice with clients and organizations, as well as discussion on further opportunities for implementing and integrating Appreciative Inquiry.

Also included with your training...
In addition to the 4-Week training described above, you also receive:

1. Free access to the RealAudio version of this training.
2. A Bibliography of leading works on AI.
3. A number of web resources to support your work in this field.
4. Summary notes of each class session.
5. List of class participants.

Benefits to you of participating 4-Week Training...
1. Get a great introduction to the concept and practice of Appreciative Inquiry to add to your toolbox as a facilitator, team leader, coach, or leader.
2. Learn to employ a change process that works.
3. Learn how to come from a positive, "what works" perspective when working with individuals and groups.

Click here to register now!

Leader Bios

Bert Stitt operates a home-based consultancy from Madison, Wisconsin. He provides facilitation services, public engagement consultation, and organizational development for community-building projects, coaching for non-governmental organizations, mediation and facilitation for governmental agencies, and strategic planning processes for associations, foundations, and small businesses. Appreciative Inquiry is a relatively recent tool that Bert is finding very useful as he reaches into the toolbox while helping to build the organizations he works with.

Patricia Clason has traveled across the continent doing speeches, workshops and media appearances as a professional speaker, trainer, consultant and writer, giving over 3,000 presentations for corporations, associations, government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Now the Director of the Center for Creative Learning which offers programs for personal and professional development and has written many articles, training programs and personal growth seminars and is a sought-after guest for radio and television. Patricia likes to focus on alternative methods of teaching and learning, addressing the psychological perspectives and principles behind the practical tools that she teaches. As a result, audiences are often entranced with her and excited about using these new ideas.

Course Fee and Registration.
The full cost of training is only $64.95 for MFJ readers ($79.95 for the general public). Everything you read about above is included. And, we offer a 100%-satisfaction-guaranteed guarantee. The class will meet on the following four Tuesdays at 2:00 PM EDT (NY Time), October 7th, October 14th, October 21st, and October 28th.

Please click here and you'll be taken to the teleclass registration page. Register there and you'll see your discount computed and applied as you check out. Immediately upon completion of your registration, you will receive an email with instructions to access the course
. This course is limited to 20 individuals, first come, first served.

About the satisfaction guarantee
If, for any reason, you are not satisfied with this course, simply email us with a request to refund/credit your credit card in the full amount and we will do so immediately.

Click here to register now!


Thank you for reading this issue of the Master Facilitator Journal. Look for your next issue on October 7, 2003.


Copyright 2003. All Rights Reserved