Viv Mcwaters

There’s training, and then there’s Creative Facilitation training!

Viv Mcwaters

There’s lots of things I can’t do well – way too many to list here – but I can cook a pretty good risotto and I can host facilitation training that’s memorable. I know this to be true because I love designing and delivering training that rocks.

2017 67

‘Easy and safe’ is over-rated

Viv Mcwaters

Working with groups generates lots of dynamics. I want to focus on the dynamic between the facilitator and the group. There’s a long held position about facilitation that the facilitator needs to make the task easy for the group, and to create a safe space. I disagree. When I’m tired, feeling a bit vulnerable, and wanting to be cared for I relish the easy choice in a restaurant of the chef ‘just bringing food’ I don’t want to make choices, or decisions.

2016 52

Creative Facilitation – the Book!

Viv Mcwaters

Exactly two years ago, I spent six weeks with my ankle in plaster after an operation. With nothing better to do, I wrote a book. This week, we’re releasing it into the wild.

2013 99

Bolder Conversations

Viv Mcwaters

I’m riffing some ideas here based on the four themes we’ve been exploring for Creative Leadership: Having bolder conversations. Connecting more deeply. Engaging the resistance. Staying alive. None of us like to feel uncomfortable when talking with others.

Can improv save the world? It can’t make it any worse!

Viv Mcwaters

There seems to be bad news around every corner. It’s a volatile and unpredictable time, and we all need to draw on all of our skills and resources just to cope, let alone, be of any use to others.

2016 49

A few thoughts about what it’s like to be a free agent gleaned from John Hagel’s talk

Viv Mcwaters

When John Hagel started speaking about the dark side of technology as mounting performance pressure, the inevitable comparison with others and the pressure to keep up, I found myself nodding in agreement.

2014 73

A morning with David Whyte

Viv Mcwaters

First, two confessions. I’d never read, or listened to any of David Whyte’s work. And I didn’t know what genius loci meant. Nor did I know to what extent both might influence me. After yesterday morning, neither is no longer true.

2016 46

Creative Facilitation – New stuff. Yay!

Viv Mcwaters

How does a facilitator announce new stuff? A musician brings out a new song or album, an artist has an exhibition of their latest paintings, a writer releases a new book or poem – and a facilitator announces…”I have new stuff to share with you.” ” Sounds a bit lame really.

2015 52

Staying Alive

Viv Mcwaters

I’m riffing some ideas here based on the four themes we’ve been exploring for Creative Leadership: Having bolder conversations. Connecting more deeply. Engaging the resistance. Staying alive.

2016 39

The meaning of words

Viv Mcwaters

Musing over the meaning of these words – play, playfulness, game, activity, ice-breaker and warm-up – I invited others to share their understanding. Even with a sample size of 14 responses*, there’s some interesting insights regarding word meanings and the use of language when facilitating.

2014 52

Travelling a different road

Viv Mcwaters

For many years I’ve been waiting for the planets to align to do two things* – Robert McKee’s Story Seminar and a workshop or seminar with Dave Snowden. I’m still waiting to do the Story Seminar. There is a link, of course.

The games we play

Viv Mcwaters

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of games, play and movement. Recently I attended a MASHLM Humanitarian Summer School in Lugana, Switzerland. It was three days exploring games for humanitarian and development work led by Pablo Saurez from the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre and Eric Gordon from the Harvard University Engagement Game Lab. And a special callout to Paulo Gonçalves, Founder and Director of MASHLM, who made it possible for me to attend.

Game 51

Connecting More Deeply

Viv Mcwaters

I’m riffing some ideas here based on the four themes we’ve been exploring for Creative Leadership: Having bolder conversations. Connecting more deeply. Engaging the resistance. Staying alive. This is one of those things that’s easy to say, hard to do.

2016 34

How to do more of what works

Viv Mcwaters

Funny how things come together sometimes – an online course about decision-making in complexity and uncertainty, a book about being an astronaut, a workshop on social labs, and an exhibition on making animated movies. I didn’t plan it this way, it just happened, and now I have something to write about. I’m reading Chris Hadfield’s book An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth.

2014 43

Engaging the Resistance

Viv Mcwaters

I’m riffing some ideas here based on the four themes we’ve been exploring for Creative Leadership: Having bolder conversations. Connecting more deeply. Engaging the resistance. Staying alive. This one is hard!

2016 28

Transforming your business with creative facilitation

Viv Mcwaters

Warning: Thinking out loud. For a long time facilitation has bothered me. I guess that’s a funny thing for a facilitator to say. I’ve never been comfortable with facilitation as a profession – it doesn’t exist on it’s own, or in isolation.

2012 46

Creating productive spaces

Viv Mcwaters

Monday’s Beyond the Pale (tips for better meetings). The idea is to make things simpler. So today’s tip for better meetings is simplicity itself. Get rid of the tables. All of them. Here’s why. It’s too easy to set up ‘camp’ at a table. Notebook here. Pen there.

2010 58

HUMAN – sci-fi meets aid

Viv Mcwaters

As a long-time fan of science fiction, I was delighted to hear that J. was writing a new novel, the world’s first humanitarian science fiction. is a fabulous writer as his previous books – fiction and non-fiction, all with humanitarian themes – attest.

2016 21

Let the music begin

Viv Mcwaters

I’m really keen to bring music to my workshops, and having no talent whatsoever with any form of instrument or voice, I have to rely on technology. Thank goodness for those devices, I say.

2013 34

The myth of the agenda

Viv Mcwaters

It goes like this: to have a productive meeting you must have a pre-prepared agenda and stick to it. That’s the secret of better meetings. Bollocks. An agenda is wallpaper – it covers the cracks in your meeting by pretending to provide structure and control. And certainty. When groups of people get together, yes, even for a meeting, amazing things can happen – if you allow it. An agenda is all about control and apparent efficiency.

2011 36

Let the games begin

Viv Mcwaters

The Olympics are over for another four years. But it’s not those sort of games I’m referring to. Not sporty, competitive games. Nor video games. And no, not board games either. These games are for fun.

Game 28

The tyranny of the explicit

Viv Mcwaters

We probably all know someone who constantly plays the excuse card.

2011 28

A games-free zone?

Viv Mcwaters

A couple of things got me thinking this week (and that’s no mean feat during the summer holidays – much easier to just forget about everything and enjoy the beach).

Game 21

Researching applied improv – a project for 2014

Viv Mcwaters

Even a cursory look at this blog will reveal my interest in improvisation. It started with Playback Theatre and ranged far and wide around different improvisation styles. Most improv happens on the stage, in theatres and bars.

2014 21

Peeking from behind the mask

Viv Mcwaters

Two articles in today’s Melbourne Age newspaper stood out. This one and this one. “Tell the story – the more times you tell it, the better off you’ll be.” ” This was the advice given to Brant Webb and Todd Russell , survivors of the Beaconsfield goldmine disaster. They were trapped underground in a small wire cage for 15 days after an explosion on 25 April 2006.

2012 26

What are the 3 big mistakes that Meeting Leaders make that keep them frustrated with drawn out meetings and a lack of enthusiasm?

Viv Mcwaters

Number One: They do all the work themselves. This means you are in front of the group, maybe chairing the meeting or leading a workshop, and seem to be doing all the work, while the participants sit passively – you’re not even sure if they are listening.

2013 21

Connecting individuals in a large group meeting

Viv Mcwaters

This week I’m taking part in a global meeting of about 80 or so people and have about an hour to do some connecting activities. The question has been asked as to why we need connecting activities when ‘most people know each other’? Good question.

Co-facilitating: how hard can it be?

Viv Mcwaters

Can you pick the co-facilitators in this pic? A few recent incidents have thrown co-facilitating into sharp relief and helped clarify some of my own experiences and expectations of working closely with others.

What makes Facilitating With Confidence different?

Viv Mcwaters

After 13 days facilitation training with my mate Johnnie Moore I’m excited by what I’ve learnt. We’ve had lots of fun, some sticky moments, have met some wonderful people from across the globe, and have definitely learnt as much as the participants.

Still learning about facilitation

Viv Mcwaters

Here’s what I learnt about facilitating thanks to Melbourne Playback Theatre Group ‘s weekend workshop. You have to keep doing something long enough to notice what’s going on for you. Taking an activity beyond what might be considered reasonable can have enormous payoffs. We would do a seemingly straightforward activity for a while, and just as I started thinking to myself, “Well, that’s enough – I’m getting sick of this now&# we would have to keep going.

Facilitating for engagement in isolated communities

Viv Mcwaters

There are ways to facilitate meetings and events of all sorts that encourage participation and engagement. This week, while working in Papua New Guinea and helping community leaders learn how to facilitate in isolated communities, I’ve come to understand the following.

Why do groups need a facilitator?

Viv Mcwaters

If the job of a facilitator is to get out of the way, why have one in the first place? Because boundaries matter. Boundaries provide safety, and structure, and edges.

2013 21

7 conditions for a great facilitated workshop

Viv Mcwaters

Everyone loves a good list, so I’m led to believe. This post falls into the category of ‘notes to self’ – or possibly ‘advice to potential clients’ Here goes: 1. Have a clear purpose for meeting. Be able to answer this question in a concrete, non-abstract way:&# Why is it important for this group to meet at this time?&#. Be clear about start and finish times and schedule long breaks. Have a structure, but don’t create a detailed agenda.

Break down to break through

Viv Mcwaters

This song, Minnie the Moocher , by The Blues Brothers , came up on shuffle while I was at the gym. I was focusing on the song as I tried to take my mind off running and how heavy my legs felt. The song uses call and response , one of my favourite musical devices.

Action storming for tackling difficult people

Viv Mcwaters

The question comes up sooner or later: “How do you deal with difficult people?”

Capturing the essence of improv

Viv Mcwaters

This is a fantastic summary of highlights and insights from AIN Downunder: Thriving In Uncertainty from April Seymore. Capturing the essence of improv is a post from: Share this on Facebook. Share this on LinkedIn. Email this to a friend? Tweet This!

There is *always* process

Viv Mcwaters

Exhibit 1 : Hours of back-to-back speakers, some using PowerPoint, some not. An audience seated in rows, able to ask questions during Q & A sessions at the end, sometimes during. The first speaker goes over time, and the subsequent speakers want their allocated time too, so… Exhibit 2 : Individuals select a photo from about 200 available, pair up, then take a walk outside and share their reflections on the photos they’d chosen.

2011 22

Using who and what’s in the room

Viv Mcwaters

This week I’m working with a group of people who have come together to learn some new skills. Skills they will be expected, by their employer, to use to design and implement a quite complicated, multi-layered, multi-day event. Participants have been given a comprehensive manual outlining all the steps and procedures. They have a 60-minute video explaining the same. They have access (face-to-face and electronic) to colleagues with knowledge and experience.

The two not-so-secret secrets about Creative Facilitation

Viv Mcwaters

There’s no big secret to Creative Facilitation , it comes down to two things: using creative processes that allow people to really participate, and showing up as a facilitator that people feel able to trust. The hard part is letting go of all those practices that squeeze the life out of meetings. We are social creatures, fundamentally wired for socialising, playing and creating together. To release energy into our meetings, we need to disrupt some conventions.

Is this sticky or what?

Viv Mcwaters

THIS is disruption at its best. If you can’t see the video in your browser, here’s the link. link]. Conferences Facilitation Improv

Video 21