Johnnie Moore

Citizens of facilitation

Applying ideas of fellow citizenship in training and facilitation
Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

Approach facilitation and training as fellow citizens

Transcript of this video:

I recently read Jon Alexander’s book, “Citizens”. And to summarize it in a paragraph, he suggests that for most of human history, we’ve operated as subjects of whichever king, emperor, warlord was throwing their weight around at the time.

And then in the last generation or two, we’ve moved from being subjects to consumers: people who use our resources to get what we want, which in some ways has been satisfactory, but in others has been perhaps a bit of an illusion of control and something that is leading the planet into various kinds of crisis.

And he now suggests that we’re making a transition from being consumers to citizens, which is a much more participatory sense of how we operate in the world. And he cites examples from all over the world, from politics to business, of where this transition is happening.

And I just wanted to share how I think it might apply to a world that I’m familiar with, that of training, development, and facilitation.

Because I think the prevailing model there in education, at universities, but also in training in organizations has been the consumer model. Typically, courses have happy sheets for the participants to fill in.

And the goal of the lecturer, or the teacher, or the trainer is to get a very high score from participants, which can be quite corrupting because it basically means that you don’t want to give people too hard a time and leave too many loose ends.

You drive basically for very high scores. And institutions have got strong incentives to somehow arrange for as many people as possible to pass. So the contract between the trained and the trainer often boils down to, “Well, you pretend that you’ve learned something and I’ll join you in pretending that you’ve learned it.”

And I think what we need is a much more citizen model. Not a consumer model, but a citizen model of how we go about that because I think that will encourage us to create more challenging experiences. And I’m reminded of one my favourite management writers,

Richard Farson, who talks about education as reflecting on our personal experience in the light of encounters with great ideas. Something that produces more varied and diverse responses and is less amenable to getting the 90% satisfaction rating that we are sometimes tempted to think is a measure of success.

Certainly, when I’m working with teams and groups, I want to see myself and them as fellow citizens trying to make sense of a subject rather than me being someone who simply tells them the great ideas that they learn and then they just say, “Oh yes, he taught me this” at the end of it.

So I think the model that Jon articulates in his book for politics and business generally has a lot of application in the world of training and facilitation.

Photo by Texco Kwok on Unsplash

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