My journey into the transformative power of facilitation with Voltage Control
I remember the day facilitation first sparked my interest; it was like a light bulb flicked on, illuminating a path I hadn’t known existed. My journey began in the energetic pulse of working for a design and development consultancy, running in-person discovery workshops for new project engagements. I reveled in the excitement of it all, the way a well-placed exercise could turn a room of quiet observers into a dynamic force of collaborative energy. This wasn’t just about consulting; it was about creating the right environment to weave an interactive tapestry of ideas and insights.
As I honed my craft and transitioned careers from practicing to teaching to leading product design teams, I discovered facilitation went beyond a set of structured activities—it was a way to direct and promote unheard voices, unlocking potential in spaces where it lay dormant. Now, I lead a team of designers in a maturing product organization, each brilliant in their own way, yet often siloed in their expertise. I could see that our methods needed to evolve; sharing decks and sparking brief discussions weren’t enough. We were craving deeper engagement and wanting collaboration that transcended departmental boundaries.
The need for change became even more evident as I interacted with other departments. From product management to engineering, and beyond the confines of design, the pattern persisted. We were all experts in our fields, but our collaborative efforts often felt superficial—like we were just scratching the surface of what we could achieve together. It was clear that we needed a new approach to meetings, a way to truly engage and understand one another. The usual tools in my facilitation kit were practical; still, I craved something that could take us to the next level, that could turn routine interactions into transformative exchanges.
Looking for More
As I explored new methods with books like Gamestorming and Design Sprints for starters; each technique I tried was a step deeper into facilitation. The more I learned, the more I realized the scope of what I didn’t know. Sure, I could copy this activity, but just like building a feature on a product, it’s not about the action of building; how do I ensure it’s successful? So, rather than daunting me, this gap in my knowledge fueled my drive—I was on a mission to bridge it—to morph from someone who facilitated by instinct to one who did so with precision and purpose.
Amidst this evolution, I couldn’t help but feel there was a foundational structure to what I was practicing with my team that I was missing. Why were some activities a hit while others lagged in their outcomes? Why was one method successful at engaging a team but less with another group? I craved a learning environment where I could sharpen my facilitation skills and go beyond acquiring knowledge; I wanted to practice with a network of peers, engaging in a dialogue beyond my immediate circle. That’s when I discovered a vibrant professional community in my backyard—Voltage Control took me to the next chapter of my facilitation journey.
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Choosing Voltage Control
Choosing Voltage Control felt like a natural progression, a step that was waiting for me as I navigated my professional journey. The organization’s reputation preceded it, whispered in the corridors of the Austin user experience community, and echoed in the halls where I had taught eager minds to break and build digital experiences. I had always believed in the power of proximity to innovation, and Voltage Control, being a heartbeat away in the city I called home, resonated with me. It was more than serendipity; it was as if all roads I had taken in my career were converging towards this point, towards a place where I could deepen my understanding and refine my approach to facilitation.
The more I delved into what Voltage Control offered, the more it seemed tailor-made for the growth I sought. They weren’t just teaching facilitation; they were curating a transformational experience, one that promised to meld theory with the raw nuances of real-world application. Their certification program stood out—comprehensive, yet intimate, designed not just to impart knowledge but to challenge and expand one’s facilitative capacities. The promise of learning in a cohort, of being part of a diverse group of professionals all striving for mastery, was the community I longed to be part of. Here, I sensed an opportunity not just to learn but to contribute, to weave my story into the larger tapestry of collective learning and leadership.
The journey through Voltage Control’s certification program reshaped my entire understanding of what it means to facilitate. It was as if I had been given a new set of lenses to view the world of collaboration and leadership. Each session was a blend of observation, participation, and practice. The program’s structure fostered an environment where we could explore the edges of our comfort zones. We weren’t just learning techniques; we were learning to wield them with intent, to understand the why behind the what. It was a process of deconstruction and reconstruction—breaking down my preconceived notions and building them back up, fortified with purpose and precision.
What truly marked the experience, though, were the personal highlights—the moments of connection with my cohort, the shared struggles, and the collective triumphs. Watching facilitators from various backgrounds navigate the same challenges, each with their unique flair, was inspiring. The diversity in approaches to how they commanded the room, relayed expectations, guided participants through uncertainty, and spoke openly about the whole experience was gold. The camaraderie within our group was unexpected; from laughter to tears, we all came together to celebrate and promote each other’s skills and experiences.
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Emerging from Voltage Control’s certification program, I felt a sense of pride in my accomplishment and a renewed purpose to transform the status quo. Equipped with a facilitator’s Swiss Army knife, my return to the company was not just a physical transition but a shift in mindset. Meetings I led took on a new form; they were now canvases for experimentation, arenas where the techniques I had absorbed could come to life. I immediately began weaving activities from “Ritual for Virtual Meetings” into our sessions, transforming mundane quarterly all-hands into moments of connection and creativity.
This evolution was not just about adopting new activities; it was about embedding a new philosophy into our work culture. I began to see facilitation less as a task and more as an art form—a means to guide, challenge, and inspire my colleagues. Our product design meetings, once a sequence of updates and repetitive motions, transformed into new purpose-driven experiences to hear different voices and amplify total engagement. We ventured beyond the safety of a structured standup or retrospective, testing the waters for dynamic, open-ended discussions. Some attempts were more successful than others, but each was a lesson. I noticed the subtle shift in my team’s engagement—eyes lit up with interest, ideas flowed more freely, and the once-dreaded meetings became sessions of anticipation. We were all growing, learning to dance in the ambiguity of creative problem-solving and to relish the moments of clarity that followed.
But the potential I had unleashed with my team was just the beginning. I began to see ripple effects of our new way of working extend beyond the confines of design to other areas of the broader organization. It’s still in progress, but I envision a future where facilitation isn’t an occasional practice but a ubiquitous element of our organizational DNA, where every meeting is a chance to collaborate effectively and every workshop a step toward our shared goals.
The Horizon Ahead
Looking ahead, the horizon is rich with the promise of what facilitation can bring to the table in terms of team cohesion and company-wide transformation. My vision for the future is not just to be a facilitator but to be a facilitative leader, one who embeds the principles of engagement, clarity, and creativity into the fabric of our company culture. The skills and insights I’ve gained are more than just tools for meetings; they’re instruments of change that can guide a team to navigate through the uncertain waters of innovation with confidence. I want the facilitation techniques I’ve mastered to be shared across departments, empowering others to lead with the same fervor. This future, rich with potential and growth, is not just a possibility—it’s a destination we’re actively charting towards together.
My advice to anyone wanting to follow in my footsteps is don’t wait for perfection; it’s an illusion that hinders progress. Start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can. With every new technique you try, with every session you lead, you’re not just running a meeting—you’re cultivating a garden of ideas, fostering growth, and setting the stage for transformation. So, take the leap. Engage with the resources around you, observe, learn, and, most importantly, apply. The beauty of facilitation is in its practice, application, and impact. Let’s not just dream about a future of dynamic collaboration—let’s create it, one facilitated moment at a time.