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27 July 2014

Courage: A workshop idea

I ran a workshop at Last Conference this year. I liked this activity as did many people there, so am sharing it here. In the spirit of ship early, ship often; here are some rough notes I used to plan and run the session. 

Perhaps you can try some of these ideas out (and report back!) Maybe run it as some sort of retrospective activity?

Theory about how we should work is all good and readily accessible, but do we have the courage to drive change? To be the ones that stick out.

I think about the Nash Equilibrium and how it is rarely to our short term benefit to be the person who challenges the status quo, or the way we do things around here.

Probably the people that have come to this conference are highly engaged, and leaders in their teams and workplaces. So maybe targeting courage as a thing to build on is not the sweet spot.

This workshop should aim to give the participants a tool or some ideas that they can take back and use to help others be courageous and successful.
We will break into groups and work in three rounds. I will brief you in on each round at it's beginning. Some of this will be a mystery until the right moment.

Each round is about 5-6 minutes.
 1: Form pairs

  • Activity: Talk about a time you have seen someone be brave or courageous.
  • Debrief: Was that a hard conversation?
  • Appreciation: Thank your partner if there was something in that story that resonated. Be specific of you can.
Round 2: Pairs, bundle up into groups of 4-6
  • Activity: Talk about a time when you have done something brave (doesn't have to be at work)
  • Debrief: How did it feel? Was it harder or easier to have this talk?
  • Appreciation: (As above)
Round 3: Each group again merges with the group next to it
  • Part 1: Talk about a time when you have done something particularly brave. Share your feelings about the event with your team. Team can ask questions and explore your story as much as they like.
    • Not everyone will get a chance to tell a story in this round. Just get 2-3 people to share.
  • Part 2: (People think this is the debrief, but...) Ask for three volunteers to stand up and share their story with the whole room. Advise anyone is the room and ask questions and intervene at any time.
    • Three volunteers stand up and tell their stories.
  • Part 3: Thanks to the volunteers. Appreciate their contribution and acknowledge that public speaking, especially when unprepared is a brave thing. Send them back to their seats.
  • Debrief: What do you think about the people who stood up? How did the volunteers feel doing this? What made their act brave? Did you see the escalation of the activities? Each one was harder? How might you use this idea/activity at work?
  • Appreciation: Ask people to thank their team mates and the stand-up volunteers on the way out
Ideas at play
  • Talking in small groups is easier than large ones
  • Talking about ourselves and how we feel is harder than talking about other people and things
  • We can have smaller conversations to set up bigger ones
  • We can build experience in dealing with hard things (ie Courage) by tackling easier things first
I think the session was well received. The tweet I did as people got talking got loads of retweets, and I got several thanks in person and via twitter. My favorite bit of feedback was this tweet. (Paul did a similar one but this is the nice hand drawn version.)