The duality of facilitation

Facilitators, like many creatives, exhibit a profound duality.

They meticulously design experiences to the minute, yet, they’re ready to throw the plan out the window based on their live read of the participants. You need both traits to be a successful facilitator.

Job prospects

The job market for the average person doesn’t look great. We had a wonderful run where anyone with an education could get a job easily, get paid well and retire comfortably. That time was an exception, not the rule.

Unfortunately, that’s what people expect now and because of that, the current situation seems like a nightmare. The world is changing quickly. Technology is eating jobs and shifting the landscape of work.

The “job market” isn’t going to get better. It’s going to get more competitive, more unstable and more skewed toward entrepreneurial thinkers. As young people growing up in this world, you have two possibilities:

Hope the “job market” gets better. This seems unlikely given current trends.

OR don’t be average. Take ownership. Stand out. Not by getting straight A’s and jumping through every hoop, but by owning a niche. Being yourself and fighting for change. Adding value without expectation of anything in return.

While the job market for the average person is going downhill fast, the job market for a remarkable person has never been better. 17 year olds making societal change. 21 year olds starting multimillion dollar companies. 25 year olds getting hired on big consulting projects because of their portfolio of work. None of those people have anything to worry about when it comes to the job market for the average person.

So go to edge. Don’t be average. It’s the future.

That thing is the work

That thing on your mind. The distraction that feels like it’s in the way. What if I told you that was the work? Not the to-do list items. The stress, the uncertainty, the restlessness.

Figuring out those things is the work. Not the other way around. Accomplishing goals doesn’t make you centered. But being centered will facilitate your accomplishing of goals.

The day to day stuff is important, but the real work is much harder than rattling off a few emails.

Low fidelity prototypes – Three degrees of interaction

When you need feedback on an idea, there are a few different paths you might go down.

I propose that some ways will help you collect more feedback in shorter amounts of time due to an idea called degrees of interaction. The three degrees are:

1. Words

2. Visuals

3. Time (responsiveness)

The first, most obvious way to get feedback is to verbally describe the idea to someone. It’s a low effort option and it might elicit valuable feedback depending on how well you can explain the idea. The problem is that this is a one degree interaction between your idea and the world. All you are putting forth are words without any visuals or responsiveness over time.

Related, some people might write their ideas. This is another one degree interaction. Though, adding photos and diagrams to a piece would increase the interactionality, but not quite to a two.

To get into two degree land, you would need something like a power point, where you are showing visuals and sharing words at the same time. You could accomplish the same goal by drawing pictures, then recording your voice as you talk over the various images. An explainer video on a landing page is a great two degree example.

Yet, even with a video, there is a static-ness to it. Over time the video doesn’t change no matter what the user feedback is.

To get to three degree interaction, you would need something alive that changes over time. The easiest way to do this is though a facilitated experience where you are delivering a product or service based on user input. A wizard of oz prototype is a good example of a three degree interaction. You could also get a three degree interaction by sophisticated role play where users join you in an imaginary world and give feedback in real time as you simulate your idea.

I think our goal should be to get to the highest degree with the least amount of effort. Not because it’s fun to show off bad products, but because it’s the fastest way to get the valuable feedback necessary to launch good products.

The calculation ends up being a maximization question of: degrees/time. Get to the highest degree possible in the least amount of time and you will get feedback quickly.

Hopefully this framework provides a way to think about which prototypes might be worth pursuing in the early stages of a project. Build fast. Learn fast.

Creative Confidence Resources

David Kelley – How to Build Your Creative Confidence

A wonderful TED talk by the founder of IDEO about the value of creative confidence and how to start building yours. He shares a touching anecdote about an engineer who embraces creativity to change the lives of young hospital patients.

Tim Brown – Tales of Creativity and Play

The current CEO of IDEO outlines a couple quick activities that will get a group talking and thinking about creative confidence.

IDEO Deep Dive on Nighline

A famous talk in the design and creativity world. 15+ years old but still valuable to this day. Nightline follows the IDEO team around as they redesign a shopping cart. They go through the full design process in just a week to create something remarkable.

“That’s a bad idea”

A common sentence that does no one any good. It’s lazy, discouraging and shuts the door on opportunity.

I fully acknowledge that there are countless bad ideas out there. But the next time someone shares an idea you would classify as bad, don’t take the easy way out. You can ALWAYS shoot an idea down and find a reason why it won’t work.

Instead, help that person design a quick experiment to learn for themselves that their idea is underdeveloped. Prototype the concept at a small scale. Interview a key user. Learn more about the ecosystem.

Telling someone never works. It leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

But experiments are fun, action is progress and now learning can happen. When in doubt, take action.

Desire to learn

The only sustainable solution is the desire to learn. The question is: how do you create it?

Capitalization capitalism

I heard an ad the other day and the main selling point was:

“No one is going to make fun of anything.”

Use our product, and people won’t be able to make fun of your appearance!


It was clear the ad was trying to capitalize on insecurity. On the fact that we think people are saying negative things about us behind our backs.

I’m sure it works. Everyone has their insecurities and in those feelings there’s an opportunity to sell a product that will temporally patch up the problem by spending money. It’s capitalism at work. Entrepreneurs seizing market share.

I see why it happens and I’m sure there are people making lots of money selling this service. But at the end of the day what are they selling? Sales go up when people feel more insecure. Eek. We wonder why so many young people feel like they’re not enough.

It’s a business. But it doesn’t have to be your business. Choose wisely because it matters.

Good energy

You can feel it in the air




Old friends and new friends

Engaging in ways that matter

It’s an invaluable feeling

Yet it’s so rare

Hiding in niches

Behind paywalls or access card activated doors

While it’s hard to find, we all need the feeling

The feeling of understanding, community and belonging

The feeling of good energy pushing you in the right direction

Where might you find it today?

Don’t keep thoughts in your head

I love this quote from David Allen, creator of the Getting Things Done productivity system. He says:

“Your head is a crappy office. It’s for having ideas not keeping them.”

We can all relate to that moment of impending doom when you realize you’ve forgotten to submit something on time or respond to an important email. To me that is the epitome of stress. Thus, the antidote to stress is putting those things down on paper (or in an app) and setting aside the time to go item by item and accomplish them.

When I get in trouble starts when I don’t write things down. Like Allen says, your mind is for having ideas, not holding them. When you notice an item pop into your head, take a tiny action. Start the email draft. Create a to do.

Clear your mind to kickstart productivity.