I recently became a member of International Association of Facilitators, and attended the 2 day pan Asian conference in Mumbai held on 21st and 22nd August 2015. The theme of the conference was Facilitation Unplugged and it was attended by more than 185 delegates from 12 countries ranging from US to Canada to Japan to Kenya! Needless to say, it was an amazing experience and I learned a lot and met some very interesting people.
However, it was only by happenstance that I came to knew of the conference. Two years back, when I was a software development manager in Cisco, I had attended a four day advanced management and leadership development workshop conducted by Guillaume Gevrey and Sanjay Dugar of concept2competence and ever since had been following @c2ctweets and @dugars and @ggevrey on Twitter (given my interest in facilitation) ; C2C being the platinum sponsor of #IAFasia15, it was not so odd that I came to knew about it and was wise enough to decide to attend it!
I knew only a handful of participants prior to the conference, and given my introverted nature was not sure whether hat count woudl increas edrastically by the end of the conference; but was amazed by the opennensss with which both participants and session presenters interacted with each other and made people like me feel comfortable.
There were a lot of concurrent sessions, so choosing which ones to attend had been a pretty tough decision. The first concurrent session I attended was by Guillaume, partly because I had already seen him in action earlier and was greatly inspired by his facilitation style; the choice proved to be a good one- learned about new processes like textra and world cafe and also realized how facilitating for Organization Development is tricky- and realized the importance of management alignment behind the OD initiatives.
The post -lunch concurrent session that I attended was on appreciative team building and given my self identification with the Positive psychology movement it was no-brainier that I would chose this session over other equally excellent sessions! Again learned the nuances of appreciative team building including how the Appreciative interview is the most important part.
The concurrent session on the next day that I attended was on using creativity in facilitation and again saw in action many new facilitation techniques like ‘getting to know you’ , ‘wordplay’ etc. The presenters were Vinay Kumar and Mrunal Lamge and they created an excellent fun, invigorating and participatory environment.
The last group activity was using open space technology where I too decided to lead a discussion on how facilitation techniques can be used in strengths based development – there were a few very eager participants and we brainstormed a few very good ideas (see poster below).
While I enjoyed the sessions I attended there was also a feeling of regret at having not been able to attend the other concurrent sessions, some of which were getting amazing responses from the participants. Lillian’s session on helicopter client engagements was one such session. The organizers had paired us up so that we could learn from each others attended sessions and that was again a brilliant idea.
As the conference came to an end, I came back with fond memories of people I had met- some of them stalwarts in the IAF fraternity like Vinay Kumar, Ajit Kamath, Jawad Ahmed and Stephen Berkeley – Stephen was found with the book ‘Quiet’ during lunch and that led to our conversations whereby I discovered that he is also associated with Brahmakumari’s Global Hospital at Mount Abu. Amazing man!
Then there was the graffiti artist par excellence, Lim su Min, who brought alive the conference with his real time sketches. Watching him in action was awe inspiring.
I also discovered a small strengths focused community. Nitul, I had already met as a strengths coach earlier; then there was Ryan , who is India’s first strength strategy coach. There was also Vinesh who was very knowledgeable about the whole filed of positive psychology and there were many others including Farah who wre not that much into positive psychology themselves but could connect and appreciate from where I was coming from based on their own experiences with their clients and their own passion for facilitation/ executive coaching.
Overall, it was an excellent event and all the organizers deserve to be applauded. I’m looking forward tho the next event- which could be as soon as in October in the international facilitation week and perhaps I will also get and opportunity to volunteer and organize some local event. More power to the facilitators out there!! Lets keep rocking!!!