Reflection on the Action Learning & Research Conference last week

Posted by  admin —September 21, 2009
Filed in Uncategorized

Last week, I had the privilege of participating and presenting at the 2009 ALARA (Action Learning & Action Research Assoc.) Conference.

As a participant, I was at last able to connect with a group of people I’ve been learning from for years. People who have authored some of my most used books like Yoland Wadsworth and Bob Dick were there. And facilitator’s I have learned from, by watching them in action, like Ross Colliver were also in fine form. Unfortunately my time there on Friday was too brief and I didn’t get to immerse myself in the afternoon sessions and wrap up.

Personal Reflection on My Session & Presentation
I was eager to have a conversation with those who showed up to my session. I named the presentation “The Space Between” as a way of linking the art of Action Research & Action Learning with the emergence of social media and the opportunities that presents for us to consume, produce and share knowledge and learning.

Some reflections on how the presentation went … Firstly, my plan during the presentation did not go as intended. The time was cut back a bit and there were 2 concurrent sessions happening in the same room which was a little distracting for all. In the spirit of Improvisation I accepted those offers and just got on with it. The rule I live by here is to ‘just show up and make use of what you’ve got’.

The dilemma of Split Intentions – playing the role of facilitator AND presenter at the one time

Patti Digh and David Robinson over at the Circle Project talk about the concept of Split Intentions. On stage, as an actor, you cannot play 2 intentions at the same time. They say that this as true for life (and work) as it is for actors. David says “A split intention ‘splits’ your action, diffuses and confuses”.

As some of my work as a facilitator moves into the presenting and training zone, I am struggling to balance a healthy mix of facilitation (ie. that allows for group conversation and sense making) and presentation (ie. where I stand and deliver information in the form of a story). I can do both well, however, mixing the roles in the one session is a real art.

My extroversion is attracted to the presentation role where I get to do most of the talking, however, this can be at the expense of ‘noticing’ what the participants are offering. When I facilitate, I notice in myself a heightened awareness of the people and things around me. I ‘talk less’ and feel able to respond well to a group’s needs and adapt my actions along the way. However, when I try to blend Presenting with the Facilitation of group process I struggle. Viv McWaters has seen this struggle in me when we work together. At the moment, I feel like I take my ‘eye off the facilitation’ ball when presenting. I lose sight of the group.

My understanding of Split Intentions may not be accurate in all of this, however, I will continue to work on blending the art of presentation with facilitation.

Here’s the slides at Slideshare (and I intent to record my voice over these slides in the near future) …

By the way, in the delivery of this presentation at ALARA I didn’t manage to get the group to the most important part (see slide 74). The whole purpose of the presentation was to allow the participants time to reflect on how they might use Social Media tools (like Blogs and Twitter) in their own Action Learning and Action Research. That tells me I tried to present too many concept before getting to the core of my presentation.

And another thing, Slideshare have featured this presentation on their website home page. Whoo-hoo!

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