Facilitating with Enterprise Design – Field Notes: Intersection 2020

This session with Jean-Sébastian Daigle and Eric Letarte was my favourite session from Intersection 2020. As a workshop facilitator myself, I love learning new workshop activities and hearing tips and tricks from other experienced facilitators. Below I capture my three takeaways for stronger enterprise design facilitation.


Enterprise Design Facilitation (Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels)

Key Takeaway

JS and Eric took us on a chose your own adventure to explore facilitation techniques supporting a selection of the patterns from the new book Enterprise Design Patterns.

On the pattern of Captured Stories, we explored an activity called “even over” statements. This exercise is designed to capture critical principles in an easy to remember statement. These principles may be an organisational vision, a team’s values or project guiding principles. The “even over” statement expresses how a group of people decides when two important values compete. Examples JS and Eric gave were “Sustainability even over profit” or, in the context of dating for a bit of fun, “Has a real job even over every other positive attribute”. You can read more about this technique here.

On the pattern of Powerful Questions, JS and Eric stepped us through an exercise on abstraction laddering. This technique works by ranking statements provided by participants on their level of abstraction. If it is too abstract, we can ask further questions to identify more tangible insights. If very concrete, we can ask other questions to identify a more abstract, or generalisable observation. This technique can be used to hone answers given on any question from “What went wrong on XYZ project?” to “How can our team work together better?”

I think my overall favourite takeaway from their session was “time is maths”. This is a pithy way of getting across a critical point in workshop facilitation. Time is finite and no matter how you cut it by adding more exercises or breaks, you have the same amount. They also shared their personal guidelines for making the most of time in a virtual workshop. No more than 3 hours per session and three workshop activities for that session. This allows for time setting up the session and closing as well as some always essential breaks.

Licks I Clicked

  1. Article: Making Space with TRIZ from Liberating Structures

  2. Resource: Session Lab

  3. Resource: Hyper Island

Where to Learn More

Unfortunately JS and Eric haven’t released any books or toolkits… yet.

#conferencefieldnotes #enterprisedesign #facilitation #workshops