Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0304, June 5, 2007 ....
 

Dear friends,
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When I was back in Wisconsin a couple of weeks ago, I got to meet one of my colleagues, Harry Webne-Behrman for the first time in person. On the first day there, we had a four-hour working session where we talked mostly about the task at hand. During that meeting, a couple issues came up that I needed to speak with him about outside the meeting. A most unusual thing happened during that meeting that led me to this week's article, "Creating Task Time Warps."

In this article, we talk about how under certain conditions, a whole lot of work can get done in a surprisingly short period of time, proving that Einstein's findings in time relativity have practical implications even when we're standing still!

Have a great week!

Steve Davis
Publisher and Founder of FacilitatorU.com



 
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The Point


Creating Task Time Warps
The task shrinks or expands to fill the time available
(A variation on Parkinson’s Law)


Relating Skill


When I was back in Wisconsin a couple of weeks ago, I got to meet one of my colleagues, Harry Webne-Behrman for the first time in person. On the first day there, we had a four-hour working session where we talked mostly about the task at hand. During that meeting, a couple issues came up that I needed to speak with him about outside the meeting.

So the next day, we set aside a half an hour to talk. I came into his office at the agreed upon time and we quickly got into a personal discussion. It was great connecting with Harry on this level where we each got to know each other better both as professionals and as friends. After what seemed like only minutes, I looked up at the clock and exclaimed to Harry, "Oh no Harry, I've got to get out of here in five minutes to go to another meeting and we didn't even talk about what we came together to talk about! With that, he asked a question, to which I replied. We bantered back and forth for about 30 seconds and basically handled the main point of our meeting.

I walked away and thought how interesting that was. What the heck happened here? How were we able to "waste time" talking about personal stuff for nearly a half an hour then get the work we came together to do finished in less than a minute?

Here's what I think happened and how we can put these lessons to work in our groups.


Application


Don't underestimate the power of rapport
. In our short meeting, Harry and I put the development of our relationship on par with of our work. Well maybe not, I think we actually put the relationship way ahead of the work, and perhaps that's the reason the reason the work got done so easily. I came in with a sincere interest in not only the work but in getting to know Harry, and he reciprocated. We enjoyed each other, built trust and rapport, and as a result, we "greased the slide" leading to our task.

Front load the context. We had some limited email exchange before our meeting on the topic at hand so there was a general understanding of what we were after. In our meeting, we were able to clarify some misunderstandings and quickly develop a game plan to move forward.

We like to adjust our tasks to the time available. In a counseling program I took for my Master's Program in Spiritual Psychology, in order to practice our skills, we had the opportunity to counsel each other, one-on-one, on a regular basis. Sometimes we had short 20 minute sessions and at other times we had up to an hour. I always marveled that no matter how much time we had, the "client" typically made their move, that is, really dug in and started doing there work in the last five minutes of the session. In my experience, we humans like to take all the time we have available to do things and vice versa.

Give your groups short periods of time to do impossible tasks. In concert with my last point, it seems we humans really perform well under pressure. Just look at our planet. Now that we're tinkering on the brink of extinction, ours that is, some of us, roughly a third, are just now beginning to talk about doing something about it. Of course, some leaders, who will go unnamed, are only interested in "talking" about it. Politics aside, see what happens when you give your group limited amounts of time to come up with alternatives to solving a difficult problem. But make sure to spend time building rapport first!



Action
 

Try spending 15 minutes on a difficult task this week that you believe will take hours, days, or weeks to complete, and see what happens. Reply to this email and let me know how it turns out.


Resource


A Sideways Look at Time
, by Jay Griffiths

A brilliant and poetic exploration of the way that we experience time in our everyday lives. Why does time seem so short? How does women's time differ from men's? Why does time seem to move slowly in the countryside and quickly in cities? How do different cultures around the world see time? In A Sideways Look at Time, Jay Griffiths takes readers on an extraordinary tour of time as we have never seen it before.

With this dazzling and defiant work, Griffiths introduces us to dimensions of time that are largely forgotten in our modern lives. She presents an infectious argument for other, more magical times, the diverse cycles of nature, of folktale or carnival, when time is unlimited and on our side. This is a book for those who suspect that there's more to time than clocks. Irresistible and provocative, A Sideways Look at Time could change the way we view time forever.


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