Tools and Exercises
Designing and facilitating
creative learning activities
If you are responsible for designing or facilitating learning, thinking or strategic activities in your organisation, this is a valuable source of ideas.
Outside Story Inside Story Technique
One of the reasons we find it difficult to reflect more deeply is that we struggle to collect good enough information to reflect on. Often the missing information we need is hard to collect because it is not very visible – like the feelings, unspoken thoughts, assumptions, relationships and motivations of different people. But if we do not access and understand these things then we are just skating over the surface..Relating experiences or telling stories is the key approach to action learning. Here is a simple technique to help us to get a better quality of information or data from our stories.
Organisation biography development exercise
A powerful process to help an organisation to understand itself through exploring its story. "The Phases Of Organisation Development" on page 74 of Barefoot Guide can be used to accompany the process.
Giving and Receiving Help or
Feedback - A Training Exercise
This exercise requires two individuals to help a third individual solve an interpersonal problem through respectively taking on the roles of consultant and observer. The results of the exercise should be: to gain skills in defining a problem and in helping another person deal with a problem; to practice skills of feedback and to identify Parent, Adult and Child statements and the effect of such statements on interaction.
Asking Better Questions
One of the signs of a facilitative leader is the ability to ask the right questions at the right time. The art of leadership depends on the ability to ask questions that will make a difference. This exercise, taken from the BFG1, provides a dynamic approach to developing good questions, even getting to the question behind the question...
Asset Based Community
Development - An Overview
Here is an approach that clearly illustrates developmental thinking applied to practice in community development contexts.
The Mandate System
As organisations grow in size and complexity, the challenge of participatory decision-making becomes ever more daunting. The mandate system described in this reading outlines a process that brings together organisational priorities and the initiative and will of its individual members.
Disaster exercise – creating a learning environment
The disaster exercise is an exercise to set the rules of a process together and to create ownership for a process. Moreover the exercise helps the participants to concentrate on visible behavior instead of vague rules. What concrete behavior is needed to learn in general or to learn from and with each other?
Improving how we learn from presentations
How often do you experience that questions asked after or during presentations are not helpful for the learning process? How often do you experience that people don’t really listen to the presentations. The exercise “learning from presentations” can help you to give participants more guidelines to listen and to work with the presentations.
Practical Action Learning
We use this tool to introduce the concept of action learning and the different stages of the action learning cycle. By first introducing the theory, and then allowing participants an opportunity to practically experience each stage of the cycle we were better able to demonstrate its usefulness. This tool can be used at all level of an organisation and by participants who speak different languages, are illiterate, with hearing or sight difficulties.
Winning entry of BFG2 2012 Best Exercise competition
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Chapters of My Life Exercise
This exercise is a simple biographical process, offering you the opportunity to reflect on your whole life, generate a picture of its significant moments and then engage with it with a bit of distance, to begin to clarify and perhaps make sense of things and the relationships between them. Can be used in a team or organisational setting, helping to build team cohesion and a deeper understanding of development.
Tinkertoys Game: Revealing how Organisations Work
A game to reveal the core dynamics and processes of organisations, revealing key relationships and roles, experiencing some classic dysfunctions in conventional structuring, understanding the processes of feedback in organisational functioning.
Holding a Structured Debate
Sometimes a good debate is better than a dialogue, especially when you want to test ideas and plans.
These guidelines provide the debaters with a strong structure to analyse the real nature of a problem, whether the plans will contribute to the solving of the problems and if they are realistic and finally, what the side effects are.
The Advisory Carrousel
The advisory carrousel provides an empowering experience for participants who are often in the role of advisor and also for participants who don’t see themselves as advisors. There several purposes:
The Action Learning Cycle -
This is a powerful framework for learning and planning. Presented here are a selection of questions that we have found to be useful in many situations. This can also be used as a case study and report-writing framework.
A Facilitators Guide for Teaching and Learning the Foundations of Organisation Development
A full course guide for trainers/facilitators or teams of practitioners to teach or learn for themselves the foundations of Organisation Development. For development practitioners who are not organisational specialists, but find themselves needing to better support the development of local organisations.
Four Case Study Methods to Deepen your Practice
Many people don't really enjoy case studies or stories usually because they don't have a conscious and workable approach and method. Which is a pity because working with real experiences of development is arguably the most fruitful ways to deepen and even enliven practice.
There are four kinds of case studies that we have found useful. Although there are many similarities, each is also quite distinctive.
Power, Relationships and Change - how to talk about and work with power
Power lives in relationship. More often than not development is hampered or stuck because of those power relationships which prevent cooperation, which oppress, stress and limit the potential of people. Therefore if we want to see shifts or transformation of power we have to help to transform relationships. This extract from Barefoot Guide 1 focuses on the challenges of understanding and working with power, as a leader or as a facilitator.
What Power is in the Room? An exercise to reveal and transform power
A "whole organisation" exercise to reveal and resolve power issues in an organisation or unit that has become overly rigid or hierarchical. Caution: not for leaders who are afraid of feedback or of empowering others!
Que poder esta dentro da sala?
Um exercício para revelar e transformar poder
Revelar e solucionar questões de poder em uma organização ou unidade que se tornou rígida ou hierárquica demais. Perigo: não é para líderes que tem medo de feedback ou de empoderar os outros!
Developing Deep Listening Skills - an Exercise and a Reading
Being deeply listened-to is one of the most empowering experiences. This exercise teaches deep listening skills and can strengthen a listening culture. It can be used to surface and develop experiences and ideas in a workshop. The model used (head/heart/feet) is a powerful "archetype" that helps users to ask better questions when interviewing, surveying, diagnosing or counseling. This exercise includes a short reading on listening.
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Understanding three kinds of change - an exercise and input
An exercise to experientially explore the three different kinds of social or organisational change as described on pages 20 and 107 of the Barefoot Guide to Working with Organisations and Social Change.
Using Pantoums for Deeper
Reflections - 3 versions
This is a lovely exercise to open or to close a session. In a very structured way, sentence by sentence, all participants are able to write a poem which reflects their feelings and thoughts in a way that gets around self-censorship, opening the way for more authentic conversation. (The Pantoum is is a form of poetry derived from the Pantun, a Malay verse form - specifically from the pantun berkait, a series of interwoven quatrains). We have given 3 different sets of instructions as examples for how this can be adapted - e.g. for visioning, for connecting with work and the will, for facing loss or pain.
Journaling with Free-writing -
stimulating "own-thinking" and
This method helps individual participants to dig deep to find surprising insights and ideas and to develop new ones. The free-writing helps them to get behind their self-censoring blocks to release the hidden gems within.
The process can be used in wide variety of ways to stimulate "own-thinking" and deeper conversations.
Temperaments Workshop for Facilitators
A 1/2 day workshop to help people to understand and engage with the Four Temperaments as described in the Barefoot Guide.
Report-backs from group discussions can be boring. The Jigsaw method involves everyone and makes the whole experience more engaging and interesting. World Cafe can also be used but this has its own benefits.
The aims: to enable everyone to report back from group-work in an energetic way and to help everyone to experience giving group report-backs.
Four Models of Coaching
Over the past several years, coaching has emerged as a powerful new model for leadership and management. Because coaching is a time- and cost-effective way to support the learning process, it also can be an ideal tool for managers wishing to build a participative learning culture. This article describes four different models of coaching and illustrates how each facilitates organizational learning.
Turning Points in My Life Exercise
This exercise will help the individual to understand the nature of change and development by reflecting on key moments of change within their own lives.
The Girl and the Sailor
An exercise that explores and challenges several assumptions and values, helping people to think more critically. Also great for team building.'