Practical ideas for facilitating workshops & people development

Archive for February, 2012

Farm succession facilitation for business continuity

Facilitation of farm succession is something I am very passionate about. Done well it keeps families together and farms in business, done badly, or not at  all, family support systems can be destoyed and so can businesses. My passion is driven from my own personal experience growing up on a family farm and marrying into a family farm, one family handled succession well and the other very badly.

These personal experience led me to completing Farm Family facilitation training with Lyn Sykes from Dubbo, ToP Facilitation training, Coaching training and an MBA so I could assist farming families with succession planning in a constructive way.

Accountants, lawyers and financial planners all play important roles in the succession process and often the most overlooked role is that of the facilitator. The facilitator will ensure the tough questions and the emotions are dealt with – they aim to assist the family achieve outcomes with shared understanding and common agreement.

Getting the whole family together is key to the shared understanding ….and I mean the “whole” family. The most successful meetings we have facilitated have included everyone involved in the farming business, this includes the siblings and their partners. The meeting provides an opportunity for everyone to put forward their views and perceived role in the future of the farm as well as their personal goals.

The other big misconception is that succession planning is about Will’s… this is only one part of the discussion. Succession planning is more accurately described as strategic planning or planning for business continuity. It includes discussions about business mentoring, business transition, roles and responsibilities, expectations and goals, retirement plans, plans for business growth, housing and more.

I’m not saying it is an easy process. Many families have never sat around the table and shared their hopes, goals and dreams for the future and at first it can be uncomfortable. After five years of working with families in South Australia I am still passionate about doing whatever can be done to keep families and farm together.

I would love to hear your comments…

What is your most pressing question about succession planning on farms?

Food and the Wow factor in workshops

The importance of great food has come up in every conversation I have had recently about the Wow factor. However, participants don’t seem to remember the details about the food unless there was something wrong with it.

Last year we ran a large workshop in Adelaide where we brought in a group of farmers from across the state, morning tea was on arrival and was enjoyed by all … there were several comments of appreciation about having a substantial morning tea after a long drive…. so we were off to a good start in the food stakes.

The morning workshops sessions all went well, interesting speakers, good interaction and discussion.

Lunch arrived and all looked good, large pizza’s and salad…but things were about to slide! There was only one piece of pizza per person .. and this was farmers we were feeding. We quickly spoke to the hotel caterers and requested more food…. well, too late for more pizza. They said they could provide plates of wedges…. and so they did. Many people had only wedges for lunch. Not exactly what we had in mind.

One of the questions on the feedback forms was “What did you find challenging about the workshop?” Well .. I’m sure you can all guess the answer to that question – lunch! Not only did the food affect the mood of the afternoon session it sabotaged our evaluation as well.

What went wrong – the event organiser who we originally booked the venue through was on holidays for the week. When we thought we had got it all right one last phone call to check the details would have made the difference.

Never overlook the importance of food in the Wow factor!

What gives workshops the WOW factor?

So what is it that makes you leave a workshop saying “Wow that was a fantastic workshop”?

For me it’s a combination of process and delivery with great attention to detail. It’s often the little things that make all the difference – just starting and finishing on time is so important, such a small detail which is often overlooked. People like us to value their time and sitting around waiting for those who are late isn’t valuing my time! Yes, I know, as the facilitator we want everyone to be there at the start of the workshop so we can go build the atmosphere …so we need techniques to deal with the late comers, or strategies to ensure everyone arrives on time. Timing is a whole topic of it’s own.

To get the discussion started I asked my facebook friends for their ideas about the Wow factor. All of their comments will great topics for future blogs and info for my book, so thanks for all of your input.

  • Humour and the experience of the presenter – not just reading powerpoint slides but using real life examples which bring the topic to life.
  • Appreciate, recognise and value the people in the room. Allow time for reflection.
  • Group work – the opportunity to reflect and explore things that work and things that don’t.
  • It’s always good to know that sometimes you are on the same path as others or the presenter which makes for a bit of a wow (like wow I am doing OK)
  • Networking and sharing with others new ideas  offers wow (how can I try that in my practice and will it work)
  • Personal stories
  • Fun, colour, play – I think these sorts of approaches can bring out the child and some very creative thinking can evolve, we drop some of our barriers to learning.
  • The tricky job of being able to manage the personalities and learning styles in the room.
  • A supportive and comfortable environment – that gives everyone the opportunity to leave the workshop feeling that they were listened to, participated and reflect in their own way.
  • There needs to be something new
  • “A double choc cheesecake with extra cream would do it for me not forgetting the strawberry on the side at smoko!”
Perhaps a key to our thinking about Wow in workshops might come from the Wow in other parts of our life… and our ability as the facilitator to bring this with us into our work…

Wow! ...Flying with my husband into the sunset in his small plane.


Welcome to Workshops with Wow!

This page will provide you with tips and tools tips and tools to create great workshops. Workshops where your participants leave saying “Wow” that was a fantastic workshop.

We can also provide

  • Mentoring and coaching to assist you with your workshop, facilitated session or presentation
  • Workshops, tailored to your companies needs
  • Key note presentations

Keep an eye out for our next post.

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