I’m sitting in my Best Western hotel room in New Jersey reviewing my program design for tomorrow.
When I create a program design I first get clear on the messages (lessons) that I choose to teach or reinforce. This process starts through conversations with my client. I put on my detective hat and begin asking questions that reveal what the group “really” needs - - it’s not uncommon for the group representative contacting me to be less than crystal clear on what’s really going on with their group. “We need teambuilding training” they say. Why? What will the training help your team do that it can’t do now? How will you measure success? What will the training look like? On a scale of 1-10 how is your team performing now? What are the demographics of the team? Who is the team leader? What are the leader’s (organization’s) values and beliefs?
Here’s how I prepare for a program: I map out the beginning/opening sequence of activities, which allows me to get a feel for the group. This sequence of activities may last 15 – 90 minutes. After watching the group interact during this introductory session I know which exercise to lead next. I’ll select an activity from a “menu” of activities that I’m prepared to lead. This means I come prepared to lead more activities than I can possibly lead during the program. The menu is made up of two categories of activities that I label “long” and “short” (the long activities require more time and are more involved, more intense). I also have a category called “fun” and I intersperse activities from this category to help bring levity to the program and key points.
This approach to working with a group is much like “performance art” - - I create the program as I go. I’m constantly asking myself this question: How may I serve? I listen to my intuition and I pick the next activity.
There are some situations where I map out the entire program and don’t make any changes from my plan. I’m able to design a program like this if I’m able gather enough detailed information about the group in advance.