Square and Round Trainers

Square and a circle with reflectionsSue James and I had a great time at the Australian Institute of Training and Development network meeting last night. We gave a presentation on Appreciative Inquiry for the Learning Professional and the 38 members and trainers who attended were pleasantly surprised with the activities in which we had them engaged.

We always make our presentations fun and interactive, rather than just presenting information. Sue led the session with a brief overview of Appreciative Inquiry and I helped with a short segment on the difference between being a “square” or “round” trainer using  a Tai Chi exercise.

You should have seen the participants’ faces when I asked them to stand and do some Tai Chi. I’m sure they had been expecting a lecture type of presentation – but they did put down their drinks and food to participate in the exercise and they had fun doing so. Probably the hardest part for them was getting out of the comfy chairs – I’m sure they were expecting to bunker down and stay put for the whole 45 minutes of the presentation :)

During my segment I made the analogy  that “square” trainers, just like “square” Appreciative Inquiry practitioners, deliver their content or the learning process in a mechanical, by-the-numbers fashion, which has limited effectiveness.

By contrast, “round” trainers and Appreciative Inquiry practitioners capture the essence of what they are delivering and are able to train or facilitate “from the heart”,  which has much greater potential to achieve transformational change.

From square to roundWe all ‘start square’ of course.  In our presentation, we used a Tai Chi activity to demonstrate that idea. But it’s the same when we learn any new skill or approach.

For example, when learning to drive, do you remember going through the thinking process of ‘indicate, apply brake, check mirrors, look both ways, turn if it’s safe”?  But after a while, these steps become ’rounded’ and we move through them smoothly and instinctively.  

And it’s the same with becoming a ’round’ trainer, facilitator – or AI practitioner.  Through practice and experience we continue our learning, internalise the necessary knowledge and skills – and move from ‘square’ to ’round’.

Our thanks go to Les Allan of Business Performance , an AITD council member, who invited us to deliver our presentation. Many thanks also to the staff at Karstens Conference Centre in Melbourne, who were attentive and helpful – and who served us delicious snacks. I was famished when I arrived, but after I got into the savouries I was very happy. It stopped me from falling over from hunger during the session. :)


Footnote: If you would like to enhance your learning about Appreciative Inquiry and moving from ‘square to round’, our Essence of Appreciative Inquiry workshop can help.  The next workshop is in Melbourne on 18 & 19 June. 

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