Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Workshop Is Finished

So much for writing everyday.  None of us had wireless for the past three days, and there was one computer with an ethernet connection.  Two-thirds of the participants are 30 years old or younger.  Figure it out for yourselves: there was no way that I was going to get to that computer!

The training was eye-opening.  I have done this same type of training - not all in three days, but the individual portions - at least 20 times over the past 10 years, but this was unique (and that's an understatement).  All of the different portions of the training went very well with one exception (more on that later).  The one-to-one training, the one-to-one meetings, the public v. private training, the power training, the core concept discussion, conducting evaluations, teaching issue-problem-action (project) - all of this went very well.  One reason it went so well was because of the Theatre of the Oppressed games and exercises.  Nickia Jensen and Ben Fink provided me with valuable feedback, and their input produced some beautiful learning moments.  The Images in Transition exercise from "powerless" to "powerful" brought tears to my eyes.  The Colombian Hypnosis with multiple people was a perfect way to begin a discussion about coaching (mentoring here).  The Rainbow of Desire exercise - thanks, Nickia! - was a perfect way to introduce the core concepts.  The informal feedback has been very positive from both Julie and Ala, the organizers of the workshop, and the participants, too.  One reason for this is that we ended every half-day with a public evaluation, and the participants were beautifully honest.  They said what confused them and where they wanted more information, and Julie, Ala, and I were able to adjust quickly.  (Dennis, you told me I would have to be "light on my feet," and you were absolutely right.  By the way, you are missed here!)

This morning, on the final day, I really thought that the one training that I had to do would be perfunctory, easy. 

Yeah.  Right.

The training was about the Public Achievement roles of the coach coordinator and the coach.  Coach coordinator went well.  I thought to myself, they have been coaches for awhile, they know what this is.  OMG - all hell broke loose.  I talked about the coach as a type of leader.  "Leader" here has a very particular meaning: one leader and the more followers, the better the leader; the leader tells people what to do; the leader KNOWS what to do.  Ouch!  This is not, of course, what Public Achievement espouses as the coach leadership style.  This happened before lunch.  Julie, Ala, and I huddled quickly, and we hashed a plan.  We went downstairs for lunch, and as I walk into the dining room, a group of seven Georgians are sitting at a table having an animated discussion.  I don't speak a word of Georgian, but my incredible translator was sitting at the table, too.  I politely asked if I could sit and "listen" (meaning Rodami would have to translate the highlights).  Let me tell you, folks - that was a learning experience.  There's something about the Georgian language: I felt like I was in the middle of a good shouting match.  Everyone speaks at the same time - literally, at one point, all six Georgians were speaking at once - and they seem to understand each other perfectly.  They behaved like a choir without a conductor.  On the final note, everyone stopped, sat back, and sighed a breath of satisfaciton.  Poor Rodami had to summarize this maelstrom.  After over 70 years of Soviet rule followed by 20 years of authoritarian leadership, I was told that Leaders in Georgian culture are often seen as the obstacle to what people want.  They helped me see the debate in a different way, and I adjusted.  The session immediately after lunch went much, much better, and we were able to move forward, but there is no way that this would have happened without them teaching me before I could teach them.

Tomorrow, we tour some of the Public Achievement sites.  First, we will visit the ancient capital of Georgia (and once I learn the name, I'll be sure to let you know what it is:)).  Then, we go to Gori, the birthplace of Josef Stalin (fill in your own commentary here).  Then we go to Boshumi, where there is an IDP settlement in an old sanatorium.  The sanatorium is a 15-story concrete tower where 400 IDPs have lived since 1991.  I have heard the horror stories, but tomorrow, I see it.  Then, we return to Tblisi to visit the PA sites here.

Tuesday morning, I leave with the Azeris for Ganja.  I refuse to be involved with my itinerary development (otherwise, I will get caught in the middle of a dogfight in which I have no dog).  Many of the PA sites are in Ganja city, so I know that I will visit there.  The next closest PA site is Mingechevir, a new city of 60,000 created when the Soviet Union damned the Mtkvari River.  That is probably a two-hour drive there, so that will be most of a day.  I'll spend part of Thursday morning in Ganja city before returning on a bus to Tblisi, where I will check into a hotel one block from Freedom Square.  I won't really sleep in the hotel, though, because my flight leaves at 4:00 AM on Friday, which means a taxi will pick me up at 1:15 AM.  I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to the 22-hour return trip.  I really can't:)

I don't know what my Internet connection will be like, but when I have a chance, I'll write more.

If you have questions, please use the "comment" feature, and I'll try to provide some answers. 

1 comment:

  1. Michael

    What learning for your participants and you as a facilitator. It takes considerable skill and openess to "flex" in the moment and go where the group needs you to go.

    I was really struck by something you said:

    "I talked about the coach as a type of leader. "Leader" here has a very particular meaning: one leader and the more followers, the better the leader; the leader tells people what to do; the leader KNOWS what to do. Ouch! This is not, of course, what Public Achievement espouses as the coach leadership style. "

    Remember when I said that the work we do has overlap? Well, this was the topic of conversatio this morning as I worked with a couple of other curriculum designers to think about how best to move our "leaders" from a paradigm of telling people what to do - toward opening the conversation up to an exchange of ideas or a dialogue based approach. It is completely foreign to many of our corporate leaders. Your point that in Georiga the leader is expected to "know" the answer? We are trying to convey that the best answer evolves through the active participation of those involved in implementing it. While the definition of leader you shared came from a political point of view....we are both landing in the same place.

    Intersting stuff. Can't wait until you return so I can hear in more detail how you adjusted your afternoon discussion on this point.