Where do I start

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Where do I start

Question: Where do I start? I feel overwhelmed, there’s so much to do.

A common trap is to feel you have to use a teaching or telling style since you only have a very short amount of time. And so, people lecture about the leadership case, why this is important to do, what are the problems we have, and what you need to do differently.

I think instead we need to remember that old saying: Give the student a fish they’ll eat for a day; teach them to fish and they’ll do it themselves throughout their lives.  Most people remember so little from a lecture, maybe 10% But if they are engaged in the learning, and especially if they are learning from their peers, they retain so much more.  So, start by getting clear about your approach and style as a facilitator.

If you look at how I scaffold and build a day-long foundational workshop, we start out sharing examples of times you felt included, that we belonged as well as times we felt marginalized. I use lots of storytelling in pairs and small groups to have participants learn through the life experiences of others.  and then large group. Because it’s not just the content you’re teaching, you are building a learning container where people have increasingly authentic conversations.

Another key first step is to think about what you want to accomplish in each of the three parts of the workshop. I think about a workshop like three acts of a play. The opening, act one which is creating the container for authentic conversation dialogue, gets people grounded in the room & understanding where we’re going. The middle, which is the body of the workshop, that’s where we can teach some skills, build some more capacity. And then, the conclusion is where they begin to transfer the learning and identify how to take this back to the work environment.

Where do you start? Let go of the idea that you’re going to fix and change people in two hours, four hours, even a day. But, if you can give them greater capacity to have authentic, real conversations with other people, and increase their ability to really listen to the stories and experiences of their colleagues; if you can increase their capacity to have confidence that they can recognize and speak up more effectively and interrupt microaggressions, then people may leave feeling the session was worthwhile.

Where do you start? You build the connections between why we are doing this session and their day-to-day work activities. Have a senior leader open the session and talk about their own insights from diversity trainings and how they have changed their practice.

In twelve-step work, when people speak from the podium, they talk about what they were like, what happened, and what they’re like now. Coach the senior leader to tell a story about a microaggression they did or one they overlooked and how they learned in a workshop how to speak up instead of staying quiet. Finally, coach them to talk about their expectations that all members use an Inclusion Lens in everything they do.

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