All of our workshops use Whole Person Process Facilitation (WPPF) as the method for sharing knowledge and having a lot of participation. One of the exercises we did on the first day, as per our WPPF method, was to break into small groups to identify the hopes and fears that were present amongst the participants. These were each recorded on sheets of paper, with every hope written on yellow paper, and every fear written on white paper. We used the Medicine Wheel Tool (MWT) as a ‘map’ to find out more data about the hopes and fears as they were being presented. Every hope and every fear was placed on the MWT itself, which was on the floor in the center of the circle. The presenters were to place the hope or fear on the appropriate component: leadership, vision, community, management, purpose, relationships, or circle of the whole.
As the presenters worked to do this, they often did not agree about the placement and thus, the group benefited from the discussion of what to do. And then, participants from around the circle called out where they would like the hope or fear placed on our map. There were very differing viewpoints. I was surprised that none of the three groups of presenters asked the audience to be quiet and to let them decide. Instead, the presenters listened for a common decision, of which there usually was none.
Participants said that in this exercise, they learned to suspend judgment and that in this case, there was no right or wrong, just different viewpoints. They also agreed that the discussions about where to place the hopes and fears showed those in the room a lot about the assumptions that were being made. This exercise helped to set the tone for the workshop that there was no right or wrong, simply different perspectives. It also allowed everyone in the room to agree to assist everyone to achieve the stated hopes…this meant that Ward and I as facilitators did not have the sole responsibility to make sure that people’s hopes were met. And this exercise allowed us all to start talking about the fears that were present in the room, and that if by chance any conflict started to emerge, we could pause in the process to find out if a fear was raising its head and to do our best as a group to create space and work with the fears if they showed up.