Even if you come to a venue like Chateauform where every possible effort is made to create an environment conducive to creativity and collaboration, as a trainer and facilitator you need to plan ahead for the programme. You need a balance of activities and a range of methodologies that will allow you to reach your goals – which should be both extremely clear and realistic.
Keep the programme light and entertaining (it is not a swear word).
The aim of the weekend training was to bring together a group of experts and managers from all over the world, who chair meetings or who sit on the Executive Committee of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the international standard setting body, part of the joint FAO/WHO food safety programme. Once together the task was to exchange experiences in managing meetings and provide valuable input to those who were new to the team.
12 Angry Men
Part one of the Saturday morning session, having distributed an updated agenda the evening before, was to examine leadership of meetings through an analysis of the opening ten minutes of Twelve Angry Men, Sidney Lumet’s 1957 directorial debut staring Henry Fonda as juror number 8, who “just wants to talk”. Some of the parallels we were able to draw from the clip and chairing a meeting included, finding a process, not rushing to judgement and creating an atmosphere in which everyone can have their say.
Another activity in the afternoon session, which also allowed participants to move outside was a team planning exercise called “Supertanker”. Four competing groups work through a set of clues to navigate a super tanker through the Norwegian fjords. How the group overcomes the unexpected or deals with ambiguous information are both examined as well as characteristics of leadership and communication. It was revealing to understand how a meeting chairperson needs to set a course through an agenda (just like the captain of a ship navigates through troubled waters) and then cope with mishap along the way as the captain/chair suddenly finds they are may not be heading to their intended destination at all.
A successful weekend enrichened by the willingness of the participants to buy into the tasks they were set, physical spaces that allow for laughter and learning and a programme that although explored via soft skills, at its centre was focussed on practical outcomes that left those present keen to put newfound skills into action.