There is much to be learned from doing it wrong. History is strewn with the bodies of heroes and leaders who thought that they could rely on their experience and reputation – General Custer thought he could fight Sitting Bull’s army of 3,000 warriors with 250 men (he died in the ensuing massacre), Napoleon being overconfident at Waterloo, and Loki murdered by Thanos in Avengers Infinity Wars (oops, spoiler alert!)
The same could be true for facilitators, especially the experienced ones. If you want to be the worst facilitator in the world, don’t prepare. Just walk in and trust that you’ll pull it off. It’ll be fine! You know what you’re doing, right? RIGHT?! Hhmmm…
Earlier this month I was preparing for a train-the-trainer session. Everything was in place – the structure for the day, the exercises and the printing. And then I thought I would have a quick call with the client just to confirm the details. What emerged from the conversation changed everything! She told me that a lot of the participants didn’t actually want to be at the session. In fact, they had to pay from their own budgets to attend and were annoyed about spending money.
This completely changed my approach. I built in an extra discussion first thing in the morning on contracting and really focused on discussing what a successful session would look like for them. We spent time on agreeing what they need from me, and what they need to commit to in order to get value from the session. It was 40 minutes well spent and contributed immensely to the success of the session. Had I just relied on the way that I always did it, it might have turned out very differently.
So, failing to prepare is preparing to fail, at the risk of sounding trite.