Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0205, May 24, 2005 | 7,000 Subscribers..

Dear friends,

Good facilitators spend time thinking through and designing processes that we think will be effective for our customer's unique needs. This is simply good and responsible planning. But how many times have you felt uneasy about being prepared enough? Or how many times have you found that you had to deviate heavily from your plan? I know I have been in these positions more often than not. I've also found that often my best work has been done during those times where I simply "didn't know what I was doing." Yet when it was all over, I knew that I had done something special and the feedback from participants confirmed it. This week we look at the overrated nature of thinking by exploring the concept of "thinking without thinking" laid out by Malcolm Gladwell in his new book "Blink."

Due to the great reception we received on "The Improvisational Facilitator" teleclass, we've scheduled two additional sessions of this class in June. One in a five-day format and the other in a 4-week format. This class presents powerful, practical improv techniques that are actually inner attitudes and practices that you can use to immediately enhance your facilitation, training, and group leadership skills. This class is very interactive and uses many innovative experiential activities that will surely surprise you. I'm really looking forward to stepping through this process with you and hope to see many of you there. Please see details at the bottom of this issue and register by May 31st to take advantage of our early registration discount.

If you are involved or plan to be involved facilitating or managing virtual teams, you'll want to attend our upcoming 5-day teleclass starting June 13th called
Managing People You Rarely See. This teleclass will be of interest to facilitators and leaders working with virtual groups. Click here to check out the details on this class, and if you're interested, register now to take advantage of our early registration discount by May 20th.

In this Issue:

Feature Article: Thinking Without Thinking

Book Resource:
Blink : The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

5-Day Teleclass: The Improvisational Facilitator

Have a great week!

Steve Davis


Starts June 13th
Click here for details

Starts June 6th
Click here for details

Self-Guided Version
Click here for details

Self-Facilitation Skill

Is Thinking Overrated?
 Putting intuitive perceptions on par with rational thinking

The Point

Good facilitators spend time thinking through and designing processes that we think will be effective for our customer's unique needs. This is simply good and responsible planning. But how many times have you felt uneasy about being prepared enough? Or how many times have you found that you had to deviate heavily from your plan? I know I have been in these positions more often than not. I've also found that often my best work has been done during those times where I simply "didn't know what I was doing." Yet when it was all over, I knew that I had done something special and the feedback from participants confirmed it.

We're taught all of our lives to use our heads. Who among us isn't familiar with statements like these:

"Come on now, use your head!"
"Think about what you're doing!"
"Knowledge is power"
"Think! Think!"

We put great faith in rigorous, rational scientific analysis as our savior in times of trouble. We look for the counsel of experts in areas where we feel we lack "expert knowledge." Yet everyone of us, at one time or another, has had a hunch or a "gut instinct" that told us something useful about a situation that turned out to be right on.

As it turns out, science is discovering that we have within us an enormous capacity to make lightning fast decisions without the benefit of conscious analysis, many of which are very accurate. It turns out that we have a name for this capacity. It's called our adaptive unconscious. It provides us with hunches or intuitive hits that we can't explain, largely because their source involves access to huge amounts of unconscious material.

It's been said that if our thumb represents our conscious mind, then the rest of our body represents our unconscious minds. If this is anywhere close to the truth, and I believe it is, then most of the reasons we give for our likes, dislikes, and the actions we take are wrong. This is true because we are driven in large part by motivations and desires that are outside our conscious awareness.

In Improv, we employ special exercises that help us to not think or process while we practice listening to others. Most people find, much to their amazement, that they are able to listen to and respond far more effectively "without thinking!"--consciously that is. Of course processes are happening that allow us to access the response we need without distracting ourselves consciously to think about it. These are great skills to develop and give one a great deal of added confidence that it's not their conscious thinking that they have to worry so much about. What they truly need to respond, even more effectively than usual, is already within them and accessed more effectively by not thinking at all. This takes a great deal of faith at first. Or shall we, as facilitators are fond of saying, "trust in the process"--the inner process of our "adaptive unconscious."


Malcolm Gladwell, in his latest book, "Blink," gives dozens of examples of how people make brilliant snap judgments that rival the finds of volumes of scientific research.

He kicks his book off with the story of the Getty Museum's purchase of an ancient 2,500 year old statue called a kouros for $10 Million. Experts spent 14 months studying the artifact to verify its authenticity, after which they did in fact purchase the statue. During this period, a couple of third party experts were brought in to view the statue and remarked in one way or another upon their first glance that authenticity was in question. They had nothing to back up their feelings but they were strong nonetheless. As time went on, others began to question the statues authenticity and with more exhaustive research, it was now proven to be a forgery. How could it be that some people could look at a statue and in two seconds come up with a conclusion that 14 months of detailed, rational, scientific research could not?

Gladwell also quoted the results of speed-dating studies that indicate most people have a stated set of parameters they use to select mates, and a much different unconscious list that actually drives their attraction to prospective mates. The bottom line from this and other research quoted in the book indicates that people are largely ignorant of the things that affect their actions but rarely feel ignorant. He suggests that we should say "I don't know" more often as it is more often than not closer to the truth.

Perhaps this lack of awareness of our unconscious material, particularly that part we don't like to look at (our shadow as coined by Jung) explains why the whole world can continually speak of peace, while peace continues to elude us.

Recognition of the power of snap judgments is not intended to discount the value of scientific analysis, planning, and the expertise developed over years of study and practice. But we would often do well to question "hard scientific facts" as they are not always as hard as we think they are, and "irrational intuitive hits" often carry more weight than we care to give them.

Gladwell also shows that there is another category of snap judgments that are faulty, as they are built on irrational and unconscious cultural biases. Race and gender biases fit into this category, as do our desire to trust tall, dark, handsome, and charismatic men.

Gladwell found that it's not how much information we have, and how long we deliberate that contributes to the quality of our decisions, but how well we discern those few simple keys that carry most of the weight. So after taking all this in, consider practicing tapping into and acting on your adaptive unconscious through the use of snap judgments when appropriate in leading your groups, and encourage your participants to do the same. See if you can come to trust this great resource within you and use it to your advantage.


This week practice tapping into and acting on your adaptive unconscious through the use of snap judgments. Which ones can you trust, and which ones are in question?  We'd love to hear you're perspectives and experiences. Please send us your comments.


Blink : The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell

Blink is about the first two seconds of looking--the decisive glance that knows in an instant. Gladwell, the best-selling author of The Tipping Point, campaigns for snap judgments and mind reading with a gift for translating research into splendid storytelling. Building his case with scenes from a marriage, heart attack triage, speed dating, choking on the golf course, selling cars, and military maneuvers, he persuades readers to think small and focus on the meaning of "thin slices" of behavior. The key is to rely on our "adaptive unconscious"--a 24/7 mental valet--that provides us with instant and sophisticated information to warn of danger, read a stranger, or react to a new idea.

He goes on to explain how to make better instant judgments by training our mind and senses to focus on the most relevant facts—and that less input (as long as it's the right input) is better than more. Perhaps the most stunning example he gives of this counterintuitive truth is the most expensive war game ever conducted by the Pentagon, in which a wily marine officer, playing "a rogue military commander" in the Persian Gulf and unencumbered by hierarchy, bureaucracy and too much technology, humiliated American forces whose chiefs were bogged down in matrixes, systems for decision making and information overload.

In the Spotlight

The Improvisational Facilitator

It's easier than you think...your life is already an improv!

Learn improv techniques to become a more effective facilitator, trainer, and group leader

The Improvisational Facilitator Teleclass

The inner attitudes of facilitators, trainers, and leaders are keys to their success with groups. However, very few trainings address the development of those inner qualities that can make a good leader great. That's why I'm thrilled to be offering this class where we'll present powerful, practical improv techniques that are actually inner attitudes and practices that you can use to immediately enhance your facilitation, training, and group leadership skills.

This dynamic teleclass, led by master trainer, Sue Walden, is for anyone who facilitates, manages, teaches, mediates, coaches, counsels, directs any group. This highly interactive course provides an experiential approach using very novel exercises to help you build the skills to create an environment for participation; one that encourages openness and risk-taking for you and groups.

Benefits to you of participating from this Improv Training...
1. Gain tools that will help you relax and have a lot more fun with your groups.
2. Learn simple strategies that will help you to be more open and flexible to the specific and dynamic needs of your groups.
. Be able to connect whatever people share to the group purpose or theme.
4. Get a lot more comfortable being "in the moment" with your groups..
5. You won't panic when you "lose your place."
6. Come to enjoy dealing with the "unexpected" in your groups.
7. Never have speaker's block again.
8. Discover reservoirs of creativity within you that you didn't know existed.
9. Collaborate and learn from a community of your peers, all passionate about empowering groups.

Comments from past participants...

I've been to lots of teleclasses but have never done offline partner exercises like this and they worked great, they really heightened the learning. Excellent resource book.

How the Training works...
1. You dial into your class every day for a 75-90 minute focused training segment using a conferencing bridge.
2. Several times we will leave the bridge line for short 8-12 minute periods to give you the opportunity to engage in short exercises with a partner to practice and deepen your skills.
3. You work through a learning/resource workbook which accompanies the class including practice assignments after each session.
4. You will have the opportunity to discuss issues on the subject matter with the instructors and your classmates via an online listserve during the course.
5. During the course, you may access the instructors via email for help or situational questions.

Improvisational Facilitator Training Agenda...
Here's what you'll be learning and doing during the course...

Being present to your natural creativity

  • Overview
  • Introducing the Parking Lot
  • Awareness experience
  • What is your default facilitation skill set?
  • Improv Core Skills that support facilitation
  • Exploring 1st Core Skill: Present Time
  • The "Voice Mirror," a simple and powerful listening tool
  • Facilitation Applications

Building the "muscle" that encourages participation

  • Check in on practice assignment
  • Explore 2nd Core Skill: Openness
  • Experiencing the look and feel of openness
  • Building the openness “muscle”
  • The "Yes and..." approach
  • Facilitation Applications

Making flexibility a way of being

  • Check in about practice assignment
  • Explore 3rd Core Skill: Flexibility
  • Combining Being Present and Open to become more flexible
  • Identify unexpected challenges in facilitating
  • Building the options and possibilities “muscle”
  • Facilitation Applications

Witnessing the magic

  • Check in about practice assignment
  • Introduce “The Observer”
  • Apply Core Skills to self
  • Getting present with self
  • Quiet the inner critic
  • Think on your feet
  • Be aware of your language
  • Facilitation Applications

Further applications and applied Improv

  • Check in about practice assignment
  • Explore other applications of Improv Core Skills
  • Emptying the Parking Lot
  • Q & A with the Applied Improv Process

Also included with your training...
In addition to the training described above, you also receive:
1. Free Learning/Resource Workbook ($20 value) to help you drill down deep and master the art of improv for use in facilitation, training, leadership, and group work.
2. Free access to the RealAudio version of the training ($69 value).
3. Free pre-recorded one-hour real audio teleclass, "The Art of Improv in Facilitation, featuring Izzy Gesell, who discusses the use of humor and improvisational theater techniques as facilitation tools.($20 value).
4. Articles and resources around using Improv in leadership and facilitation:
- Collection of humor and improv resources.
__- The Six Paradoxes of Improv. Six paradoxes that will help free you to be a better facilitator
____and trainer.
__- Leadership Through Improv. Article on how Improv techniques can be applied to leadership.

The full cost of training/access is only $99 including the free items ( worth $109) listed above. Everything you read about above is included. And, we offer a 100%-satisfaction-guaranteed guarantee.

Early Registration Discount: Sign up by May 31st for $89

Immediately upon completion of your registration, you will receive an email with instructions to access the course and free article bank. This course is limited to 20 individuals on a first come basis.

I really enjoyed the Improv class. Great material, excellent delivery including the opportunities to "try it out" in partner settings. --Sandy Brown, Facilitator, Intel Corporation--

This teleclass will be offered in two separate formats. A 5-day, 75-minute class, starting June 6th, and a four-week, 90-minute class starting June 9th. Each session contains the same material simply offered in different time formats based on your preference.

Session 1:
5-Day Teleclass, meets 75 minutes everyday from 1:00PM to 2:15 PM EDT (NY Time), Monday through Friday, June 6-10th

Please click here to register for 5-Day Teleclass
June 6-10th

Session 2: Four-week Teleclass, meets 90 minutes every Thursday from 4:00PM to 5:30 PM EDT (NY Time), June 9th through June 30th

Please click here to register for 4 week Teleclass
Starting Thursday, June 9th

Self-Guided Real Audio Version
If you'd like to learn this material at your own pace and on your own schedule, you can purchase the real audio version of this teleclass complete with the learning guide. You'll be provided with access to recorded offerings of the five-hour teleclass (5 hours total) that you can listen to online and follow along in the learning guide is used in the live class. Click here to purchase for $69.

(Real Audio Only)

Click here to purchase the
Real Audio Version for $69

Self-Guided 5-Day CD Version
The Compact Disk (CD) version comes with all of the self-guided features listed above, together with 5 CD's you'll receive by mail that you can listen to anywhere you have access to a CD player. Click here to purchase for $79.

(CD's and Real Audio Only)

Click here to purchase the CD Version for $79
plus $4 Shipping and Handling

One-Day Live Version

Interested in a one-day "live" version of this class offered to your group? Email us to discuss options.

Your instructors

Sue Walden. Sue Walden is the Founder and Director of ImprovWorks, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to building Life Skills through Improvisation. Her experience includes a BA in Education and 26 years of teaching, performing and adapting and widely applying the techniques of improvisation. She approaches improv training as a powerful and joyful way to peel away constraints, restraints and inhibitions, allowing the naturally expressive, collaborative and creative self to emerge.

Sue is a skilled teacher in ImprovWorks' public workshop program, a dynamic corporate facilitator, an engaging speaker, an author (Working with Groups to Enhance Relationships, Whole Person Assoc.), the delightful "Playmeister" of both the public and corporate Recess! programs, the director and a regular performer with San Francisco's longest-running improvisational theater company, "Flash Family". She has been a member of the Specialty Staff for the year-long Co-Active Leadership Program since its inception eight years ago.

Her current passion is training trainers and consulting on how to design powerful experiential workshops. Sue promises that, in any of her programs, while the learning may be challenging, it will also be fun!

Steve Davis. Steve Davis, M.A., M.S., is an Facilitator's Coach, Infoprenuer, and free-lance human, helping facilitators, organizational leaders, educators, trainers, coaches and consultants present themselves confidently, access their creativity, empower their under-performing groups, enhance their facilitation skills, and build their business online and offline.

Steve spends most of his time building and running He also publishes a weekly ezine for facilitators called, the Master Facilitator Journal, continues to write ebooks, design teleclasses, and maintain a part-time coaching practice. His breadth of experience spans business, corporate management, engineering, teaching, spiritual psychology, and wellness, offering a pragmatic yet creative coaching foundation. To learn more about Steve, visit his website at

About the satisfaction guarantee
If, for any reason, you are not satisfied with this package, simply email us with a request to refund/credit your credit card in the full amount and we will do so immediately. It's our policy to do this and we honor this in every single case. This policy completely removes the buying risk for you and keeps our customer-satisfaction rates extremely high.

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