By M. Christine Morris, Executive Director, TransPerfect Life Sciences Solutions
Recently I participated in Control the Room, the 1st Annual Austin Facilitator Summit, hosted by Voltage Control. Prior to the summit, I took part in a Facilitation Master Class, which proved to be one of the most valuable and practical courses I have taken during my career. The facilitators curated a hands-on interactive session full of experienced professionals and provided us with real-world practice, techniques, and models to help shape conversations and, ultimately, successful outcomes. It’s the kind of class that is different every time it’s taught, due to the personalities of the individuals participating as well as the nature of the workshop itself. All of us made meaningful connections that will linger long after the session memory fades.
At the summit, I found myself surrounded by a variety of innovation professionals—from academia, government agencies, software companies, design firms, as well as independent consultants. All of us committed to making human encounters engaging and effective. It was personally inspiring to connect with Priya Parker—activist, author of The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters, and TEDx speaker—as well as Keith McCandless, author and co-founder of “Liberating Structures,” an open source set of facilitation structures rooted in design thinking.
Starstruck encounters aside, the master class provided real-time discovery and practice of methods designed to allow the “many to many” to connect and communicate in a meaningful way, which can result in real solutions to real problems. Lots of techniques used in this type of problem-solving are rooted in design thinking, which has foundations in empathy and a preference for “making” something tangible. In other words, people and their unique perspectives are critically important in designing actionable paths forward.