The Answer is ‘Run A Workshop’ – What Was The Question?
When coaching a number of sustainability practitioners before Christmas, I noticed that, whatever the question they asked me, my immediate impulse was to answer “run a workshop.” If I reflect on the last couple of years of client projects, then the vast majority have featured a workshop at some point. I’m sitting in my office surrounded by spare brainstorming templates and enough Post-Its to keep 3M trading for years.
Why’s this? Am I a one trick pony? Maybe…
My use of workshops came from years of frustration with what I call ‘clipboard consulting’ – collecting information, analysing it and coming up with conclusions. The result was inevitably a battle to convince the client to adopt those conclusions – in some cases they did so and then denied that the idea had come from me! The reason for the battle was ‘not invented here’ – people don’t like being told what to do in their business if they’ve never had the idea. This tempts consultants to recommend what the client already wants to do – the notorious ‘steal their watch and tell them the time’ approach – which is deeply unethical.
A workshop flips this around – challenging the client and colleagues to generate solutions for their business so they have ‘skin in the game’. It is genuinely engaging so it inspires people to take ownership of sustainability in general. And you tap into the wisdom, experience and knowledge of the workforce who have a gut instinct for what will work and what won’t.
If that makes me a one trick pony, then I plead guilty, m’lud.