Ed Coyle - An Interactive Presentation

Mon, Sep 26th 2011 at 12:00 am - 2:00 am

And now for something completely different......The meeting of 26 September was...was... well, different.   

How do people who cannot speak or express themselves get what they want?

Following the measured process of a typical Rotary meeting, the guest speaker, Ed Coyle launched an interactive session to demonstrate how he helps certain people to advocate their own needs, even where they find it difficult to communicate or speak on their own behalf. It helps those who normally do not have much of a voice to comment on the services they receive from carers or institutions.

Rather than explain his work to a seated audience, Ed encouraged members to experience the process for themselves. Quite soon an uncertain group of Rotarians were touching, gesticulating and grunting in an effort to communicate without words. Members were encouraged to pair with someone whom they knew less well than others. And it was within this unusual, even uncomfortable arrangement that members began to understand the scale of the task facing those with significant daily challenges.

Ed's inspiration was drawn from the technique, "Open Space," which is also used in complex organisations to encourage employees to harness their energy, ideas and passion to improve things. The process is led, but is fundamentally unstructured and this can lead to spontaneity, the discovery of things in common and agreement. However it may also result in surprise, disagreement and withdrawal from the group.

Quite often people will talk privately about things that really matter but prefer not to show out in a larger group. Paradoxically what they really think could help to make things better but they keep their views and opinions closely controlled. Here was a process to release all of that.

It has to be said that some Rotarians were uncomfortable with much of this, others perhaps needed more time to see the point of it all. But overall members distinguished themselves by participating in something unfamiliar and which well and truly took them out of their comfort zone.

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