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  • Becky Foreman

Magic Gardens and Nerds

Yesterday I was feeling a little low. Nothing important, just in a silly little mini-funk about work, life (the universe and everything). Then I got an email from a wonderful former student, Jane Chai, who is a project manager with Orange County Health Care Agency. She and her team have been using ToP Facilitation Methods for years and she shared with me the results of a Consensus Workshop they recently held to determine priorities for their Community Health Improvement Plan. It was excellent! And just seeing how well they used the method filled me with joy.

Which brought me to the realization that I am a Facilitation Methods Nerd of the highest order. I am a true believer in the power of bringing all voices together, (especially in these contentious and often very fraught times), to reach deeper understanding and meaningful consensus that leads to positive change. Nothing makes me happier than to walk into a meeting and see a blue sticky wall! And when a student takes these methods forward and applies them, as Jane has done so well, I dance with glee (well, I dance privately, in my own room, in front of my very patient dog).

And so I want to say thank you to Jane, and to all of my fellow facilitators and trainers who are using ToP methods to create positive change all over the world. To paraphrase the late, great Lord Buckley, “We all have a great power within that can heal, and cure, and cause miracles. And when we use it, it spreads like a magic garden.” This metaphor may seem hyperbolic, but I think it is apt. What happens to groups and organizations when they shift from hierarchical leadership to a culture of participation and engagement is magical, by golly! And you can trust me on that. After all, I am a fully-certified ToP Facilitation Nerd. And proud of it!

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