Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0302, May 15, 2007 ....

Dear friends,
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Information is everywhere. In fact, here's yet another tidbit coming your way in the form of this ezine. How much more of this do you need? Isn't it just overwhelming at times. Taking all of your time, to sort and sift and decide, do I need to digest this, ignore it, or spit it out? I know exactly how you feel. Something's got to give somewhere.

In this issue, we explore a new form of literacy. Perhaps an old form repackaged for a new era. This week's article, "Info-Verse-atility," explores a shift from our focus on information and its delivery, to connection and collaboration, as a new form of literacy in the information age. I hope that these ideas get you feeling!

Ok this is it. Today marks the actual sixth anniversary of the MFJ I launched on May 15th, 2001! Talk about information overload! With over 300 issues, my server's moaning under the pressure of it all. In what's likely to be a final celebration, I'm offering another discount package this week. Have a look at it at the end of this issue. The sale ends this Friday.

Have a great week!

Steve Davis
Publisher and Founder of

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The Point

Making the leap from information to self-informed

Group Process Skill

Information, at a time when it wasn't so pervasive throughout our social fabric, and when it came at a digestible rate, held our attention. It was novel and interesting. Today we've become comfortably numb by the onslaught of data input.

Information availability is taken for granted, especially among the younger generation who have grown up in the midst of the Internet, 500-channel cable TV, blogs, and a growing array of online communities. It's very difficult to hold their attention with information. This isn't surprising is it? When we can get info on demand practically anytime and anywhere we want it, what' the big deal?

During a discussion with a professor at our local community college a few weeks ago, I was introduced to the idea that a new kind of literacy was emerging. Consider that as technology continues to grow, providing any information we need, and soon in response to our vocal requests, what will it mean to be literate? Will reading and writing still be necessary?

Consider the time before writing and reading when some of the greatest classical works, like the Hindu Vedas, were transcribed from an oral tradition. Were the carriers of this tradition illiterate? No. They were considered the scholars of their time. How were people able to commit to memory what turned out to be thousands of written pages without the ability to read or write? It turns out these texts came primarily through poetic verse. This mode of communication dives a bit deeper into our mental firmware, touching our hearts and souls on it's way across our synapses. Hymns and poetic verse draw on our broader cognitive and emotional capacities for recall.

What does all this mean to us as facilitators, trainers, and group leaders? While information has been the coin of the realm in teaching and training rooms for centuries, this is changing. Among the media channels available, which are the most popular? Cell phones, blackberries, and online communities are the tools of a new revolution. Now called Web 2.0 on the Internet, what do these things have in common? Two "C" words come to my mind--"Connection" and "Collaboration."

We humans seek affinity and affiliation. Distanced by our own technology, we find ways to reconnect and work in new ways. So what are we to do? I say, it's time to sing a song, tell a story, and write poetry. These modes of communicating are rich and deep. They show us ourselves as we reveal ourselves to others. They touch us during a time when we are lacking touch in a big way. They bring wonder, beauty, and mystery back into a world that has everything summarized, encapsulated, and homogenized for us on the six o'clock news.


I once attended a week long spiritual retreat in Southern California that included a rich array of experiences at all levels. One of the things we were asked to do during our first morning was to write a poem. Not only that, we were told that we'd be writing a poem every morning for the next six days. I'm supposed to write a poem? Everyday for six days in a row? I don't think so. Now don't get me wrong, I love to write, but poetry? I'm no so good at that.

Well, I was wrong. I actually was pretty good at it. Though my poems wouldn't win a Pulitzer Prize, they were acceptable and they weren't all that hard to write given some basic rules. Namely, select a theme (we were given one each morning), then write around that.

Writing poetry is quite a different experience from the writing we're used to. We can make up our own rules of grammar, rhyme, and verse and not be accused of a misdemeanor, or worse. Writing this way, we are not so much seeking to share information and to share ourselves and our experience. We're called to allow ourselves to be touched by our experience of life and while transmitting this, move others.

Poetic License?

How can you bring this or another form of "art" into your groups? Try writing story and verse yourself, or ask your groups to do this around the topic of your training or the challenge of your task. Here are some ideas:

  • Suppose your group is stuck at an impasse. Ask them to concoct their "story" that describes this experience and moves beyond it. This separation may give them the freedom they need to find their way past their barrier.

  • Your training a group on sales skills. Have your students write a poem of their journey through the past as a sales person. Have them write another of their future as a sales person. What does this show them about who they wish to be in this role?

  • Your group is creating a vision for their future. Have them write it in the form of a story. Stories paint pictures and a single pictures says a thousand words. A story can work wonders.

For a recent class I wrote about the important distinction between task, process, and relationships that a facilitator must manage. I chose to write a poem to encapsulate this and share it with my students. I share this with you. And again, it's not a prize winner, so be kind, but hopefully the spirit of the message comes through. A tall order at times in a word awash in words...

Facilitator--Juggler of Contexts

You ’re not a magician, an actor, nor a pope,
Though these you may be cast as groups seek hope.
But as facilitators of groups, there’s one thing you must do,
You must learn to juggle, what, how, and who.
Keep your eye on each ball,
If you drop one, no crime.
Just pick it up and notice, what’s happening this time.
While it ’s not easy, with practice, you’ll see,
Facilitators are emissaries for task, for process, for you and me.


How can you bring this or another form of "art" into your groups? Just reply to this email and share your story, challenge, or perspective on this.


Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Poetry, by Nikki Moustaki

On page 261, there is a quote from the poet, Sylvia Plath: "nothing stinks like a pile of unpublished writing." This friendly introduction to writing poetry has everything--forms, writing and revision exercises, workshop and formal classroom advice, and some very humorous and helpful quotations from those who have been through the process. One's writing might still "stink," but this guide gives the novice poet a chance to give thought, coherence, and polish to those random scribblings.

I'm a retired public acquisitions librarian who started writing poems in his forties. I could have avoided spending a lot of money and saved a lot of room on my shelves had this book been available sooner. Just a cursory look shows that it accomplishes more in less space than anything else I have on my shelves, and I'm talking well over 30 volumes on how to write poems. The explanations are crystal clear and the advice is right on target. This book is perfect for the person who has no access or wants no access to formal classes or just wants to get his/her feet wet. --Serph, Bethlehem, PA USA--


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