The future of work needs facilitation: How Applied Creativity and Collaboration Techniques Transform Teams (and Why It’s Critical, Now)

The future of professional jobs is in transition: focus is shifting to integrative skill sets and workplaces that are self-organizing and inclusive, and away from both machinable skills and top-down hierarchies.

As technology increases automation and its reach over logistics, attention is turning to the roles of collaborative, human-centered products [Deloitte], judgement [McKinsey], and creativity [BBH labs], in innovative workplaces. This is an opportunity to build more human-centered organizations and focus on the lateral thinking that people are better at, but in order to transform towards this, individuals and groups will need to practice working collaboratively.

  • deliver business value — and more meaningful work experiences,
  • retain more staff and waste less time and resources,
  • while authentically having some fun along the way.

Work is Changing: Skills predictions and where to lead to

There is valid concern about how the future of work will impact jobs and work cross-sector, and examining predictions of the skills needed can help us understand what might transpire. A McKinsey report on the Future of Work points us to focus on “harder occupations and activities to automate, like care work and work that requires empathy, judgment, and so forth” [cite].

World Economic Forum

The Standard Road: Bad Meetings, Disillusioned Teams, and Frozen Outcomes with a side of Burndown

Creating groups, teams, and organizations is difficult, and in times of change it can seem like trying to catch up with a moving train. As outcomes needed, worker expectations, and organization structure is changing, how do you keep up?

The Path to Forge: Creative Containers, Connected Teams, and Innovation with a side of Sustainability

Creativity and innovation are the future-forward skills that grow in strong containers.

The tools: What you can try today to facilitate incredible experiences for innovation.

If you want your bottom line looking better, your people happier, and higher-value problems solved, it’s time to learn about facilitative leadership.

  • Include verbal, written, and visual information: Retaining information is a form of learning, and everyone on your team learns differently. So, design content and engagement activities that allow everyone to learn and share what they know.
  • Make it crystal clear how and when decisions are made and by whom: build trust by sharing transparency around decisions, because this allows people to level set knowing how their input might be used.
  • Leverage small group ideas and problem solving: If you have an issue that needs debate, cross-functional input, or if idea generation is your next step you can make greater contribution easier if your groups are smaller (2, 3, or 4 people). 10 or 15 minutes in a small group with an exercise to come back with two ideas to share can activate creativity and leverage diverse thinking.
  • Give people the opportunity and an incentive to fail: Practice using a “yes, and…” instead of a “no, but…” in ideation; Give people runway to try out ideas and report back on what they learned; Give small Failure Bonuses or Risk-taker Awards for projects that were tested but DIDN’T succeed

Engagement is about authenticity and requires trust.

I’m a technologist and design strategist who works with tech startups, civic NGOs and cities, and social impact projects, but it’s my experiences as a theatre maker that I’m drawing on in closing: whether you’re creating an immersive live experience or a group problem solving session — real participation can’t be faked or bought, and there’s as long a list of ways by which you can alienate people as which you can engage them.

design strategist & facilitator // economics researcher @rffearlessmoney // progressive technologist // performer