Facilitating from the Back of the Room at Spotify

Last week Jimmy Janlén and I held a shortened version of our course Training from the Back of the Room for our former colleagues at Spotify. Actually it is not “our” course, but Sharon Bowmans. It’s based on her books about how create a more engaging learning experience in the class room, especially when training adults.

“I really liked the whole setup of this course – a really well organised and inspiring day. Wow :-)”

Jimmy and I are certified trainers of this course. We use the techniques when we do training. But we have also experienced how useful they are in other coaching and facilitation situations, such as workshops and retrospectives. Almost any meeting can be made more engaging and with longer lasting result with the set of tools TBR provides.

We have chosen to call the shortened training Facilitating from the Back of the Room, since that is what we agile coaches do most. 16 persons from the Spotify Agile Guild showed up this beautiful day in a corner room on the 17:th floor in High Tech building with amazing views over Stockholm city. We have to admit we were a little nervous at first. Would this actually make sense to coaches? It did.

“I was engaged and not once felt tired or sleepy even after lunch”

At the heart of TBR is creating an environment where the facilitator is not the most important person in the room that do all the talking and moving. As teacher we really need to step into  the background. Jimmy and I are not that used to doing that. We like to be in the limelight. But with Sharons excellent training instructions we managed to take both one and two steps back. That was a new and exciting feeling. The energy in the room was no longer coming from us, but from the participants.

“I really got a toolbox filled with tools and tricks”

And what an energy. The first hour we spent connecting with each other and the topic. An important part is the recursive nature of the training: We use the methods we teach to do the training, which means we do not only reflect on the content of the training, but also on the way we do the training. We get to teach by example.

Next we had three sections to learn and train on 6 Trumps, 6 ways to enhance long term memory and the 4C map. In terms of the 4C that’s the Concept and Concrete Practice parts. Here we could also show the fractal nature of the training method. Not only do you design the day according to the 4C map, but also each section. We started it of with a Data Hunt, which got everyone up and moving.

“Very thought provoking”

During the day we covered more than 30 activities you can use as a facilitator, which was visible during the Concept clinics at the end of the day where we listed activities to use for meetings such as Team Building, Retrospective, Lunch & Learn.

A large part of the afternoon was spent on designing your own 4C map for a real situation. Many of the participants had upcoming workshops that they now redesigned.

“4C’s map is a good way to structure things =) Workshops, meetings, …”

After a day like this you really need a good closure and we spend more than an hour on the last C, Conclusion. During the last Celebration Circle we really got the impression that this had given people new really helpful tools. And perhaps most fun of all: they thanked each other as much as us for all the learning: a true learning community had formed during the day.

We also learned a lot and got great feedback.

“Respectful and knowledgable trainers”

If you think this sounds interesting, get in touch with us. We offer the Facilitating from the Back of the Room as an in house training. We think organizations and companies can gain a lot from learning these techniques. Or join the public full day course at Crisp in November.

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