By my standards, 2019 was an incredible year for my personal growth as a facilitator. My work had brought me to places I’ve never visited before, including Monaco, New Zealand and Penang in Malaysia. In fact, I visited India for the first time to attend the 2-day Management 3.0 Foundations Workshop with Sarika and Sandeep. It was an eye-opening experience because, as I suspected, organisational struggles in other cultures are similar everywhere, but yet are very different too.
As with many other educators, the online realm beckoned (despite years of my personal resistance!). I cooked up and broached the idea of an Indonesia-only Management 3.0 training workshop with an Indonesian partner, the fabulous Better&Co team.
I felt ready to deliver the Fundamentals Online classes after experimenting for a couple of months with free bite-sized online learning sessions that I offered to my network.
Creating new habits is essential
As simple as saying: “I am going to share my screen on Zoom, please stop looking at Miro” when switching between applications. Or “You are going to move these Moving Motivators cards along number 1, then we will do number 2 later.”
In a classroom, I can easily make my presence felt and gain undivided attention by simply standing motionless and being quiet (the Batman effect). However, when online, detailed guidance is critical when you’re beamed onto many screens that aren’t yours with very little control of what’s actually being seen, heard and understood. And so it is.
In June 2020, I had the honour and opportunity to deliver the first Indonesia-focused Management 3.0 Fundamentals Online Workshop. These are my learnings from that first experience.
Management in a local context
The ability to deliver training and workshops online opens up a whole new revenue stream, especially important in a lockdown pandemic. At the same time, new competition is real.
Many experienced professionals around the world are also turning to facilitation and training services in the global economic downturn. This is where your local knowledge and sensitivities will come in handy as differentiators. While I am not an expert in local Indonesian corporate customs and practices (being based in Singapore myself), I know enough. I know it is extremely important to observe decorum and respectful language in the presence of seniors.
We had two Vice-President-level participants from Indonesia’s national energy provider. While they probably don’t expect for me, a foreigner, to call them “Pak” all the time (equivalent of Mister in Indonesian), the other participants are obliged to do so. As a facilitator, you can choose to be distanced from the participants or you can consciously work on gaining trust and being familiar to the audience. I always choose to observe these little nuances to continuously bridge the gap between learner and teacher. It makes a much more inclusive and engaging learning experience.
Also, the ideas of Management 3.0, rooted in self-organisation and “leadership for everyone”, are, in my own belief, critical to the effectiveness of any organisation that is operating in complexity. You can’t do complexity without distributing control. However, these are management concepts that predominantly originated from liberal Western cultures. I can confidently say, in today’s context, these ideas will not fly in most Asian organisations and cultures. The Confucian principles of ‘ritual decorum’ and ‘filial piety’ are very much baked into our Asian DNAs.
Without being aware of local cultural context, a Management 3.0 facilitator (or anyone involved in communicating agile leadership ideas) can potentially alienate their participants, especially the more senior and traditional ones, with “radical management” ideas. How to avoid this?
Take your cue from Dr Barry Johnson’s ‘Polarity Management’. Change isn’t a zero-sum game. It is important to acknowledge there are positives present in both traditional and agile ways of doing work. We should preserve both sets of positives as we navigate change. How we do it is through figuring out the balance. Not either/or but both/and.
What else did I learn from this remote facilitation experience?
Modular learning rocks. I love how, after we completed session two, a participant went away and ran Moving Motivators and a Personal Map exercises with the team she was coaching that very evening. That, in a nutshell, is a great example of why Management 3.0 differs from many other leadership and management courses out there. A learner can immediately go away and practice their newfound skills.
And the fact that the Fundamentals Workshop sessions are scheduled with at least one day in between sessions allow the almost-immediate sharing of field experiences with the tools and practices in the next session. There’s no other better way to learn than to receive fresh empirical information to discuss and debate at the next learning opportunity.
As a facilitator very much interested in next-leveling my game all the time, going online and delivering over multiple sessions has an additional benefit that is not feasible in a 2-day time-constrained workshop: Continuous and immediate improvements. Now, I have the ability to send out a survey after every session to ask for feedback and suggestions for improvements. I get suggestions such as “more breakout sessions”, “more case studies” and “better time management”. These were easily incorporated into the next session. Going online is certainly a blessing in many ways!
And that’s my field report from my experience running my first Management 3.0 Fundamentals Online Workshop. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and I hope this sharing can help both facilitators and participants achieve learning bliss in their pursuit of better management and agile leadership.
I personally feel online workshops are going to be the norm in the future. With a mindful approach and the right facilitation spirit, it can be just as enjoyable and insightful as in-person learning.