We are pleased to announce that we are assisting Virginia Industries for the Blind (VIB) with their strategic planning effort.

VIB is is a division of the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI), and provides employment opportuniities for Virginians who are blind or visually impaired in two manufacturing plants, eleven base supply stores, and six service locations. They have diverse contracts with federal agencies through the AbilityOne Program (e.g., contract management and closeout services for the U. S. Army), contracts through State Agency agreements such as  the Virginia Court Debt Collection Office, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Virginia Employment Commission, and manufacture items as diverse as mattresses for the U. S. Navy and state colleges and universities and reflective vests for the Virginia Department of Trnsportation.

Given the improvements in assistive technology and more ambitious expectations of young people who are blind and people who lose their sight after gaining work experience, VIB is exploring ways to attract workers who are looking for more than traditional product manufacturing. In fact, some of VIB's experienced contract closeout employees have already been hired by the government, which is quite a successful outcome for those people.

We look forward to helping VIB plan the modernization of its business to meet the evolving needs of people who are blind or vision impaired.

 

 

Published in Ursa Major News

On May 11th, Becky Roberts and I will present "Tweet Jams:  Facilitated Social Media or Chaos?" at the International Association of Facilitators North America (IAFNA) Conference 2012, in Halifax, Nova Scotia!

We will explore how to apply the concepts of facilitation to Twitter, as we teach how to facilitate a Tweet Jam / Tweet Chat, from 9:00 to 10:30 Atlantic Time.

Join us using the hashtag #IAFNAjam, or join our non-conference facilitation discussions using #facilichat. We will be tweeting out more information shortly.

Published in Facilitation

Tweetjams-Presentation Cover Slide Tweetchat at the International association of Facilitators North America Conference (IAFNAConf2012). Use hashtag #facilichat.

Friday, May 11, 2012 from 8:00 AM to 9:30 AM Eastern Time (9:00 AM to 10:30 Atlantic Time)

Led by: Dorothy Firsching and Becky Roberts

The in-person session will be live tweeted and will introduce Twitter, tweetchats/tweetjams and tools, and will evolve to a Tweet Chat / Tweetjam that will discuss facilitation of Tweet Chats / Tweetjams.

The main questions will include:

  • What types of tweetjams / tweetchats have you participated in or facilitated?
  • When is a Tweetjam or Tweetchat a great technique in your facilitation practice?
  • What tools and techniques work well for tweetjam facilitation?
  • What works well to record and present tweetjam results?

The results of the tweetjam will be posted and made available to participants.

All are welcome to participate via Twitter in addition to those participating at the conference. For more information, follow @dbfirsching and @beckylroberts!

Virtual attendance at the IAFNA 2012 conference is also available via Adobe Connect, for a fee.

 

Published in Facilitation

The presentation from IAFNA 2012 on Facilitating Tweetjams is available below. We are planning more tweet chats so check back here or search for #facilichat on Twitter.

 

 

Published in Facilitation

Facilitator with flipchart and groupWe are masters of collaboration, working with groups, and bringing people to consensus. 

  • We have facilitated and supported ongoing working groups of people in management and operational roles across the country, using in person meetings and via conferencing, supported by online document sharing, website action registers, e-mail discussion lists, and other mechanisms.
  • We have assembled panels of industy experts to identify best practices, develop positions, and formulate approaches, including development of a major transformational policy proposal for a National Employment Investment Policy. We shared documents online.
  • We have assembled groups of facilitators with domain specialties such as acquisition / procurement and healthcare, for diverse groups of participants.
  • We have planned and facilitated a Beneficiary Summit representing diversity of age, race, gender, and disability from every state and territory, and brought them to consensus on their recommendations to Congress, the Social Security Administration. We used online action planning tools as well as conferencing.
  • We planned the first JoomlaDay in the Washington, DC area, working with a group of Joomla! experts who for the most part had not planned such a conference before. We used collaboration tools such as Google Docs and Project Fork to share planning documents and milestones in real time and virtual space. We used Google Forms to virtually instantaneously develop and share a survey of participants, collecting their responses into a Google Docs spreadsheet we shared.

Facilitation is the art of tapping into the knowledge and experience that clients already have, and working with them to help them achieve their objectives.  We clarify the strategic intent, and then specifically design both the process and the agenda to achieve the objectives of the event, whether they be purely business oriented, interpersonal or team oriented, or a combination of the two. 

We plan for the personality and needs of the group.  We carefully orchestrate the desired atmosphere, to create an environment conducive to open communication and creativity.  As appropriate, we develop processes to reach out to and involve diverse stakeholders, whether that participation is directly at a facilitated in-person meeting or via other methods such as teleconference, survey, or web collaboration. We have facilitated groups that range in size from a few people to hundreds of people, and know how to tailor the agenda and facilitation plan to meet the needs of groups of various sizes.

Working with diverse stakeholders requires a wider range of skills than does facilitating a group of people from a single organization structure.  We have been successful on many projects that involve cross-organizational input and participation from Congress, Federal agencies, State and local agencies, policy makers, political appointees, scientists, academia, national nonprofit organizations, local nonprofit agencies, industry representatives from large and small firms, and private citizens. 

Facilitation-wayne-charlie-50pctWe use a variety of group facilitation techniques and tools including icebreakers, brainstorming, breakout groups, flipcharts, etc. We use specific techniques to move a group toward consensus, for example, dot-polls for rough prioritization.   We use tools such as sticky walls (rip-stop nylon sprayed with an adhesive) to flexibly place and re-arrange items recorded on pieces of paper when the ability to reorganize is important. We use laptops to project text in large fonts and make changes the entire group can see when the changes are not extensive.  We also take copious notes and provide meeting minutes or a draft and final report following each meeting. We support planning and coordination of meeting logistics, development of background or read-ahead materials, note taking and/or transcription, and publishing of reports, including graphics and printing where appropriate.

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