2021 is officially at its end, and before we take the first step into the new year, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on a year that will be remembered as one of great leaps, coupled with devastating tragedy. Let’s take a look at some of our best moments, but first, I want to honor a team member, a mother, a friend.
Remembering this truly wonderful person will forever prevail over my thoughts when reflecting on 2021. Jenni Robertson, our Head of Operations, was lost suddenly and tragically, to family violence last October. Jenni was at the core of the growth and identity of Voltage Control, deeply affected the way we work, created value for our clients, and supported our people.
In her memory, we have decided to focus efforts and resources to help others in similar situations.
We have dedicated this year’s facilitation summit, Control the Room 2022, to Jenni and are launching an annual Jenni Robertson Memorial Scholarship. IIn these efforts we are partnering with SAFE, an organization that seeks a future with a just and safe community, free from violence and abuse. We pledge to not only honor Jenni, but through continuing work with SAFE, we plan to facilitate necessary shifts in how companies, communities, and families care for each other and find the support that they need.
As facilitators, we talk about creating safe spaces, people deserve to feel safe everywhere.
If you are interested in helping us in our work with SAFE, please reach out, I continue to be shocked and saddened at the prevalence of this problem. Let’s all work together to make a difference.
The highlight of my professional year has been the amazing team here a Voltage Control. When you work with a team of people who are passionate about what they do, care about other human beings, and truly want to make a difference you cannot possibly lose. This team has been through a year of amazing things, but also some very tragic things and I think it is a testament to the incredible abilities of each and every one of us that we were able to come together when required while also taking space as needed. We were able to persevere and are continuing to find ways to take something horrible and turn it into something that breeds hope and love. We didn’t let any of it defeat us, but instead, we stood up to honor it. When I think of Voltage Control I think of the people.
-Jamie LaFrenier, Executive Assistant
A Virtual Facilitation Experience
In February of 2021, we delivered a completely virtual and very successful facilitation summit. Hunrdeds of eager learners, expert facilitators, and meeting practitioners gathered online for a 3-day interactive CONNECTION-themed workshop. Sponsored by MURAL, we honored our mission to share the global perspective of facilitators from different methodologies, backgrounds, races, genders, cultures, and more. Human connection is vital to the work we do, and in 2021 we were faced with the challenge of maintaining that connection in a virtual space.
When we connect things become possible. When we are disconnected there is dysfunction. When ideas connect they become solutions. When movements connect they become revolutions.
Through lightning talks and in-depth workshops, our community of facilitators, experts, and guests soaked up novel concepts from master facilitators, connected with peers, and gained new perspectives and approaches. This year at Control the Room 2022, we will be putting on a hybrid conference, and we are so excited to, once again, tap into the virtual room while also bridging the gap to those actually in the physical room. We even have some very exciting Virtual Reality options coming this year!
In March of 2021, I published my 4th book, Magical Meetings. As a companion project, we also launched the Magical Meetings Stories series! Within this series, I chat with professional facilitators, meeting practitioners, leaders, and CEOs from all walks of industry, to hear about their amazing meetings, how they came about, how they work, and what they plan to do with it in the future. These stories are one example of the many ways that we are continuing to invest in our ever-growing facilitation community, providing resources for all facilitators to learn and grow. It’s been almost a year since starting the series, and we’ve heard from so many incredible people and we’ll be hearing from many more as we move in 2022. The very first Magical Meeting Story we heard was from Cam Houser, founder of Actionworks.
I think Zoom fatigue is a lie. Zoom fatigue only happens when facilitators don’t know what they’re doing.
– Cam Houser
Cam is the creator of the Instant Community-Building Workshop to help break down walls and build a deep connection with the community you work with. In the interview, we explore a pivotal question that has risen with digital and remote work on the rise: ‘What does it mean to get close to someone?’ A truly inspirational story, make sure to revisit the story that kicked of our Magical Meetings series: Instant Community-Building Workshop.
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Facilitation Certification Program
Over the years we have worked with some truly inspirational facilitators, facilitators who desired to build their skills with guidance from our unique perspective. Due to such high demand for facilitation certification, we launched a practice and cohort-based program this summer. Within a month of launching the first cohort of our Facilitator Certification Program, we knew we had created something special. Not only did we find ourselves and our students having a ton of fun but also have seen tangible outcomes emerging for all learners. Overall, the program is focused on development facilitators abilities to:
- Identify a spectrum of game-changing facilitation methods and approaches
- Select the best facilitation methods for your facilitation context
- Implement the right facilitation methods to meet optimal facilitation outcomes
- Reflect on areas of personal facilitator strength and growth
- Cultivate a valuable professional facilitator identity
These objectives allow our students to develop the key skills needed to be successful and effective facilitators. It also provides a very strong foundation to utilize these tools to transcend varieties of clients and the different contexts of their work. We are looking forward to our first cohort of 2022, beginning February 11th, if you are interested in signing up, applications are due January 14th, 2020. We hope to see you there!
The highlight of my year is providing people the tools they need to get teams more involved, to make participatory decision making, and to include and unleash everyone.
-Annie Hodges Workshop Facilitator
2021 saw substantial growth within our facilitation lab. At the helm, Kierra Johnson, our Community Manager, and Social Media Coordinator, thoughtfully nurtured our community of facilitators.
We’ve had quite the year in the Facilitation Lab learning in so many vast areas of facilitation ranging from facilitating social gatherings, psychological safety in organizations, t facilitating virtual experiences, and exploring creativity through storyboard prototyping. Our community has formed new relationships, explored new elements in facilitation, and grown closer together through our time each week together. I’m looking forward to innovating together in 2022! -Kierra Johnson
The Facilitation Lab community truly felt the impact as well! Here is what some of the community had to say:
“I am appreciative of the gentle reminder of how important it is to stay connected to the varying needs of the people on the teams I am on.”
“I loved the concepts introduced as I learned great new tools on how to approach facilitation to build new relationships.”
“I love how we got to practice storytelling. This is so key in driving and introducing solutions to problems.”
“This session was a great reminder to embrace the inner child to solve problems.”
“This session gave me courage to continue using games to connect people.”
Join the community every week, and come together openly to ideate, troubleshoot, and experiment with tried and true, and cutting edge facilitation activities and methods!
Reflecting back on 2021, I’m immensely grateful to have joined Voltage Control. From the very start, it’s been obvious the dedication, empathy, and talent that each member of the team has. Looking back, it’s amazing what we as a group have accomplished, and I can’t wait to continue to carry that forward into 2022.
-Hassan Ghiassi, VP of Relationships
A Future In Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality and the Metaverse are not only truly fascinating but the next big tech movement for businesses as well as entertainment. We are leaning into the new year with VR in mind. Our 2021 annual party was actually hosted in Virtual Reality, and for a handful of our employees, it was a brand new experience! Not only did we have a wonderful time, but it felt like a taste of what 2022 has in store for us. Control the Room 2022 will have VR capabilities, and we will be giving away VR headsets to select ticket holders, so make sure you get your tickets to take part!
If there is one thing I know to be true about myself, it’s that I’m at my best when I’m learning. 2021 presented so many new opportunities for Voltage Control along with unimaginable challenges. 2021 will certainly be a year I will remember for the rest of my life. It was a major inflection point for the business in spite of devastating tragedy. I hold the deepest respect for our amazing and courageous team.
-Douglas Ferguson, President
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