A conversation with Shannon Varcoe, VP of Facilitation Programming @ Voltage Control.

“Yeah. I think it’s absolutely true. I think there are also really interesting things that happen with adults when it comes to playing of, why don’t we? What’s in the way of that? Is also really interesting to me too, when all those things that you’re seeing are true, right? If it’s as needed in our lives, why aren’t we doing it? What is it? I think, from what I’ve found in facilitation, what holds people back from … We think of play, I think, when we think of, as facilitators often we’ll think of the icebreaker or the stoke activity or something like that. But I find it to be so much more about ingraining it into all of it. And it’s more of a mindset for play or a posture for play, I’ll often say too, and what gets in the way of that for people.” –Shannon Varcoe

In this episode of Control the Room, I had the pleasure of speaking with Shannon Varcoe about her experience building a career as a designer and facilitator focused on injecting more play into our work.  She shares how her diverse background in theater and engineering has informed her work.  Later, Shannon addresses some uncomfortable moments in facilitation like reflections, silence, play, and debriefing.  We then discuss correctness, momentum, and collaboration.   Listen in for interesting thoughts on the future of teamwork.

Show Highlights

[1:30] How Shannon Got her Start Leading Creativity

[14:30] How To Introduce Play Into Our Work

[18:30] The Problem With Correctness

[26:30] Designing The Future Collaboration

Shannon Varcoe on Linkedin

About the Guest

Shannon Varcoe graduated from Lehigh University in 2015 with a B.S. Integrated Degree in Engineering Arts and Sciences (IDEAS) with concentrations in Mechanical Engineering and Product Design. She also has a Master’s of Engineering in Technical Entrepreneurship, also at Lehigh. Shannon was a member of the first cohort of students in the LaunchBayC accelerator through the Mountaintop Experience summer research program. At Mountaintop, she focused on developing the business around a wooden building toy she invented. Shannon wants to empower kids of all ages to recognize their creative problem solving and intellectual potential through well-designed products and toys that develop these important skills. Her first product, ZYX Building Sticks launched in May 2016 on Kickstarter.  Shannon spent 3 years as the Program Manager for Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WIT) before joining Voltage Control.

About Voltage Control

Voltage Control is a change agency that helps enterprises sustain innovation and teams work better together with custom-designed meetings and workshops, both in-person and virtual. Our master facilitators offer trusted guidance and custom coaching to companies who want to transform ineffective meetings, reignite stalled projects, and cut through assumptions. Based in Austin, Voltage Control designs and leads public and private workshops that range from small meetings to large conference-style gatherings.

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Full Transcript

Douglas:  Welcome to the Control The Room Podcast, a series devoted to the exploration of meeting culture and uncovering cures to the common meeting. Some meetings have tight control and others are loose. To control the room means achieving outcomes while striking a balance between imposing and removing structure, asserting and distributing power, leaning in and leaning out, all in the service of having a truly magical meeting.

Thanks for listening. If you’d like to join us live for a session sometime, you can join our weekly Control The Room Facilitation Lab. It’s a free event to meet fellow facilitators and explore new techniques so you can apply the things you learn in the podcast in real-time with other facilitators. Sign up today at voltagecontrol.com/facilitation-lab. If you’d like to learn more about my book, Magical Meetings, you can download The Magical Meetings Quick Start Guide, a free PDF reference with some of the most important pieces of advice from the book. Download a copy today at magicalmeetings.com.

Today, I’m with Shannon Varcoe, the VP of facilitation programming at Voltage Control, where she designs and supports enterprise skill programmatic change offerings. Welcome to show, Shannon.

Shannon:  Thanks for having me, Douglas. Happy to be here.

Douglas: Oh, it’s great to have you. Well, as usual, let’s get started with a little bit about how you got started in this work. How did you get into planning and developing big programmatic offerings for cohort leadership?

Shannon: Yeah, it is definitely one of those paths where when you look back the dots start to connect a bit more. I think my first ways into facilitation and program design, probably go back very far into childhood, but I think worth starting at even high school, I was really involved in theater in high school, was super involved on the stage crew in particular and stage management and scene design, and those kinds of things.

There’s always a joke in my family that we say just the world needs more stage managers. So, I think that was very formative for me in terms of becoming a leader and a facilitator of putting a show together and leading folks through that experience. Then, when I went to college, I majored in mechanical engineering and product design, and then also found my way into an entrepreneurship minor. So, kind of always wanting to be this jack of all trades person. I think that has definitely been a factor in the growth of my career.

Wanting to create experiences, but also craft them in interesting ways. I think even that technical side of the engineering and the process also has an influence. So, all of those things kicked me into my career path of becoming a toy inventor when I graduated school and a master’s program in engineering, to designing entrepreneurship programs for university, for students. And then finding my way into leadership, facilitation, and design, and bringing design thinking to leadership development organizations, to a nonprofit and creating and facilitating long-term programs for their community, to really developing, I would say, especially with the pandemic, getting really into the virtual facilitation world. And bringing a lot of the skillsets that I’ve been developing and growing over my life to Voltage Control now. So, really excited to see that path come to this new role.

Douglas: Awesome. And such a diverse tapestry. It’d be fun to dive into some of that before we get into some of the more topical components of facilitation and programming, and the cohort based leadership development concepts. One of the things that came to mind when I was hearing all of that was something I’ve read recently around the power of exploration. And when people were studying hot streaks, when people have hot streaks and they’re having these really powerful moments in their career, it followed a moment of lots of exploration. It seems like your story is, I would say it contains a lot of stuff. Like, you’ve done a lot of exploration.

Shannon: A lot of stuff. Yeah. I feel like, even as I try to condense that story into a shorter intro, you’re also thinking about all the things you’re leaving out in that story at the same time too. I think definitely a book that comes to mind for me is the book, Range, because I think that was very helpful for me to also read and understand that, having range and having an interest in a lot of areas, but also as you say, an exploration into a lot of areas. I’ve found that it’s really a strong suit for whatever it is that I’m spending my time working on because I can pull from experiences that I’ve had, or this makes me think of this and I can connect it to this, and pulling things together from many different places and spaces of things I’ve learned or done that inform the ideas that I have or the work that I do.

Douglas: I’ve noticed that when we’ve collaborated before, we’ll be kind of riffing on some ideas and just some of the angles where the inspiration’s coming from. It’s really fascinating to hear how some of the stuff’s getting stitched together. I wonder how much does that impact the way you think about organizing programs or are the programs creating opportunities for the participants in the program to experience some of those connections or find some of their connections of their own?

Shannon: Yeah, absolutely. I think that when you’re developing a program or that people are going through something longer term, whether it’s … If we think about a program that’s three months or six months, or even a year or longer, what’s happening over time for them? And what are they having the chance to explore? As a designer of those programs, what things do you want them to explore? Whether they maybe let’s say feel like they make sense at the time, but that the pieces, again, kind of fit together as you go through an experience in a program that you can think back on something that happened, and it can inform an idea or the next step that you’re taking.

And maybe you don’t realize that when you’re going through it the first time, but it starts to build on itself over time. I think that can be really magical when people can say, “Oh, we went to that thing, or we talked about this three months ago. And I remember that now.” It can add to the creativity that’s happening in this new space that’s unfolding throughout a program.

Douglas: Yeah. That makes me think too, how sometimes experiences are over-programmed, meaning there’s like too many things happening. I see that a lot with new facilitators. You look at their agenda and it’s just full of too many things. The book, The Power of Moments, where they were sharing some research from Disney and they were talking about people really only remember how things started, how things ended, and a key moment. I don’t know, as you were talking, it just struck me as like, if we’re designing in these really special moments, are we giving people enough time to reflect and appreciate those moments? Or are we just throwing more and more and more moments at them?

Shannon: Yeah. I love that. It’s so true because I think as designers, we’re also like, we want to do it all, and like, let’s put it all into an hour. I think slowing down and finding simplicity in your design is also really crucial. I think so much of that also can design in and of itself, whether it’s … I think we can find ways that, that’s happening in products that we use or things that simplicity of design can be a choice and an element often. But I think, yeah, what you’re also saying, it reminds me of a time, early into learning how to facilitate meetings or really truly be a facilitator, that I found a thing I was always working on was giving people enough time to do a thing.

So, you sort of invite them to do something and I would just get excited to move to the next thing and give them five seconds to think about it. It took a little bit for me to be like, oh, I need to let them think for more than … They’re only hearing this for the first time. I got to give them some time to think and reflect on it or work together on it, and then we can move to the next thing that we’re doing in that agenda a little bit further along. I remember learning that the hard way at times, when people are like, “Hey, we need some more time seriously before we move on to this.” But it’s always a learning process and how you bring people through an experience, but yeah, giving them time for those moments is so crucial.

Douglas: I think that’s also exacerbated by this phenomenon, whereas a new facilitator, it can be so scary to have such a giant void of silence.

Shannon: Yeah.

Douglas: Where it just feels like really awkward. It’s like, wait, shouldn’t something be happening? I think people have to get comfortable with that, and it takes practice and confidence.

Shannon: Yeah. Definitely confidence and practice. You’re right, I think. And even, we talk a little bit about play being a very big thread throughout my life as well. I think even allowing yourself to play with that awkward silence, to me, that’s an opportunity. I think of it that way now, is that when there’s that awkward silence, it’s like, okay. It reminds me of the quiet game when you’re a kid. It’s like, who can last the longest? So, it’s like, okay, I’m the facilitator. I have to last longer and be more able to be comfortable with this than the people that I’m working with.

I almost turn into a little game in my head where it’s like, okay, can I outlast the group until somebody else speaks? That also, like turning that into a little game, for me, helps me not fill the space, but instead give room for somebody to be open to sharing. Always kind of finding those little moments for games or play, whether people know you’re doing it or not. Sometimes they’re just helpful tactics as the facilitator too.

Douglas: Yeah. This is making me think also just about the intentionality of developing longer programmatic arcs and the transformation that can happen. Because if we give time for asynchronous processing between some punctuations we’re making with the cohort or with the team, then they have a lot more time to sit with it, to try stuff in different settings, and then come back. I think the virtual world has made some of those things much more possible because when everyone expected to have the expert or coach flown in, or you were in another city, so the idea of you coming and being with them for three months is kind of less likely, but now this has really opened up quite a possibility from the design aspect of being with people and creating these asynchronous moments so they can have more time to reflect, integrate, and grow.

Shannon: Yeah, I think that’s absolutely right. And I think the opportunity to embed with a team and really come alongside of people is usually how I’ll talk about it, is being able to say, “We’re not just coming here for one day or two days and then good luck.” It’s also, how do we kind of keep connecting and giving you those moments to reflect? Because sometimes it doesn’t happen right away, but you have to … And you learn when you are like, “Hey, I learned that thing and now I’m going to try it in this meeting that I’m hosting or I’m going to …” Or I see something. And it reminds me of a thing that I learned in a workshop that I did, but now I can apply this in a different way or test it and try it out.

Those are really great moments, but then it’s when we can also say, okay, now we’re actually going to debrief those things that you learned and you did and you tried since the last engagement, that really solidify that learning a little bit further. Then you add month over month, or even year over year, how does that learning change and grow with each individual, as well as each team as they’re exploring this new, whether it’s leadership development or they’re becoming better facilitators? Whatever that might be. But you’re getting to see that happen and evolve over longer periods of time. I think you’re right, that virtual really allows that to happen in a really special and different way too.

Douglas: It reminds me of seeing a TikTok video on a dance move and then being like, oh, I got this. And then you go try it and it’s a disaster, and then you got to watch it again. And then you got to try it, and be like, wait, wait, wait, hold on. Then watch the first five seconds of it and then try that. So, you got this feedback loop of trying it, getting the feedback, and then correcting, wait, hold on. What was that placement versus that placement? Until you’re in the zone of doing it and failing and getting confused, and then having real questions about the situation, can you really make your way through it? I think that’s really how these longer arcs can be benefit people.

Shannon: Yeah. Even through that example too, it’s also being like, hey, this friend, help me figure out this step, or you’re a better dancer, help us figure this one out. So, it’s also bringing other people into that process or I think it’s a fun and funny example, for sure, but I think it definitely aligns with some of those processes. I mean, learning anything, right? It can be like that, but it’s … Especially over a period of time. Then it’s also month over month, that thing goes viral and you’re seeing it 50 times, and you’re like, okay, I can definitely do this now.

I think all of that is how we can think about creating programs that really allow you to see the material in different ways, explore it with different people in different ways, but then also kind of let it evolve in your own individual learning over time too.

Douglas: When we’re working with clients, we’re probably not trying to learn dance moves, but it served as a fun example, but at the same time, I think it is important to point out the relevance of play and joy, and how much that can shift perspectives and open new thinking. I’d love to hear your thoughts on, why is that so important?

Shannon: Yeah. Play is absolutely crucial. I think the play is crucial for development… If we go back to development and children, we think of play … So many people, when we think of play, think of kids and toys, and yes, that absolutely is play. I think in my background too, being a toy designer and coming up with my own toy product and learning more about how to actually design and create play through a product, also really informed how I think about designing and creating play in an experience, whether it’s a service or a workshop, or a long-term program.

That is the importance of exploration, as we talked about before, and trying things, but also, what does it do to your brain to be able to play with something and have fun and excitement? But also, it’s really about, again, we always keep coming back to learning, but it’s learning through a different modality in a way when you play. So, I think, for adults, we’ve kind of lost that a lot of us. And I think especially with remote too, we’ve sort of lost the chance for those moments of play. And it is really important to expand the way that you think about creativity, curiosity, and movement, and lighting up those parts of your brain through play.

Douglas: I recently heard a Stanford professor, and I apologize for not remembering his name, we’ll get that in the show notes, but he has a really amazing video. One of the points he made in the video was that play was homeostatically controlled, much like thirst, right? If you haven’t had water in a while, you get very thirsty, but if you’re plenty hydrated, you don’t notice thirst, right? The brain kind of controls, have you had enough water? Are you hydrated enough? And play is also homeostatically controlled, which is fascinating because I think so much of the world, the workforce views play as this secondary need, or this extra thing that we just have invented to entertain ourselves, when it’s actually a biological need. And if we’re not giving it to ourselves, we have a very biological requirement for it.

Shannon: Yeah. I think it’s absolutely true. I think there are also really interesting things that happen with adults when it comes to playing of, why don’t we? What’s in the way of that? Is also really interesting to me too, when all those things that you’re seeing are true, right? If it’s as needed in our lives, why aren’t we doing it? What is it? I think, from what I’ve found in facilitation, what holds people back from … We think of play, I think, when we think of, as facilitators often we’ll think of the icebreaker or the stoke activity or something like that. But I find it to be so much more about ingraining it into all of it. And it’s more of a mindset for play or a posture for play, I’ll often say too, and what gets in the way of that for people.

So much is I think, it’s vulnerability, plays vulnerability in a big way. And vulnerability is super connected to shame as well. I think, we think of that TikTok dance example, and it’s like, oh, I would absolutely not want to do that because that I’m going to embarrass myself big time. I’m going to … Then what is embarrassing myself risk, right? Risk people not taking me seriously, not wanting to work with me, whatever those things that we can create in our brains, and those stories that we can tell ourselves in our brains about what’s going to go horribly wrong if I’m vulnerable and play in this way.

I think kids don’t do that until they start to learn about … It’s longer in their lives until they start to have those things set in. So, they’re much more willing to have a posture for play than adults do. And we’re like, oh, I don’t want to be seen as not serious, and that prevents people from playing. So, it’s, how do we allow opportunities and create spaces for people to play that feel safe and able to flex into that without those fears happening? But then also, how do we say, hey, what are those fears? Can we talk about them? Are they actually real fears that are going to play out in the way that you might think that they’re going to? How can we create opportunities for you to let go of those, those fears, to be able to reap the benefits of play in space or in a collaboration with others?

Douglas: Yeah. It’s so amazing how the quest for correctness has done a number on all of our psyches because I think being embarrassed or not being correct instills so much fear. Because so much of our education system is about having the right answer and being correct. That creates so much fear of being wrong or being shamed. Definitely one thing to 100% watch out for is if teams are shaming each other, even if there’s dynamic or just playful ridicule, it is so much more insidious than it might seem.

Shannon: Yeah, absolutely. Right, I think it comes down to, there’s a very big difference between laughing with each other and laughing at each other. I think that it simplifies it a lot, but I think, in some ways, that’s definitely a sign. And also finding like, what are you bringing to that too? Are you laughing with or laughing at? I think that’s an important thing to also have awareness of on a team is, how are you also creating the opportunity for others to play and try?

Again, and it’s not always about dancing, but it’s also about sharing an idea and creating the opportunity for someone to share a wild and crazy idea that seems maybe a little out of this world. That can be playful. And if that idea is immediately shot down, well, the next time they’re not going to say that, and they’re not going to go there. That’s where I think to play and innovation and creativity are so tied, is it’s not just about … It goes back to, it’s not just about that icebreaker, it’s not just about that dance move, but it’s also allowing people to be playful with their creativity, their ideas, the way they communicate, the way that they present something.

When we have room for that, it allows for those new and innovative things to exist, but if we’re shooting them down left and right because it’s playful, then we’re really missing out on what those opportunities might be.

Douglas: Yeah. There are any number of reasons why things might be shot down, not just play. Also, if people are feeling ridiculed or shamed, they’re not going to share, they’re not going to be forthright with their ideas. That is the pinnacle of not being psychologically safe. What I love about all this kind of talk around play is that play can be a gateway to better psychological safety without having to have this very controlled, very mechanical like, oh, we’re going to manufacture some psychological safety. Because I don’t know how well that works, just training people on psychological safety, what it means, and then go, okay, go back and do better. Whereas like, I feel like encouraging play and facilitating these moments, gives people a license, an agency to be more safe, and to create these environments of safety, which then they can perpetuate.

Shannon: Yeah, absolutely. I think some of the most interesting things with play are that play is also a chance for us to try things on and try things in different ways. Role play is a thing or storytelling play, like there are so many different versions of play. Where sometimes it’s easier for people to enter into playful experiences that inform then the work later, or I think, as you’re saying, if we can enter into a playful and psychologically safe experience, we can keep that. We know what that feels like now. We know what that looks like now. And we can enter back into that time and time again through the ways that we did it when we first learned how to through play.

Douglas: So, you’ve designed a lot of things in your career. And quite often there’s been an experience involved of some sort. There’s been toys, there’s been all sorts of things. I’m really curious, what’s the thing that you’re most proud of, or what is your favorite design?

Shannon: Ooh, I don’t know. I can’t pick a favorite. I mean, I think there’s definitely a spot in my heart for my first, toy that was, I always am joking away, it’s like, oh, it’s my first startup in a way, because I learn learned so much, so many hard ways. That product it’s called ZYX Sticks, it’s spelled ZYX Sticks. It was just a huge learning process. Came out of a design course in my product design coursework that was not supposed to be a toy in the first place. And came out of that design class and critique environment. Then became this thing that just evolved into a business, which was just a wild experience, start to finish.

But I will say like some of my favorite other things I’ve designed in terms of products, I worked with a company called Created With Love, that does date night subscription boxes for couples, and really are silly, and fun, and just are all about creating opportunities for people to connect and laugh and play together. That was definitely more of a pressure cooker of creativity because we were coming up with new themes and new games and new activities every single month, and did these sprints of designing the full experience of the box, but then also what all the individual, like inventing new games every two weeks for some of these boxes to come to life. So, those were definitely … There are some really silly, fun themes that we leaned into that I’m very proud of that came out of that work too.

Douglas: I’ve been following one of the writers for the Simpsons. I’ve been really enjoying his stories because he’s been sharing these little vignettes about what it was like being in the writing crew for the Simpsons. So many great, cool anecdotes of what it was like to being back there. I mean, when you were talking about the pressure cooker, it reminded me of that. I was like, being around a lot of creatives, coming up with a lot of crazy stuff, it’s like …

Shannon: Yeah, it’s like, there’s nothing better. I mean, for me, I think that’s a piece that I really love about this work, and is now something that I really look for in a team and joining a new team and finding people that you just connect on, and connect with, where you can just have that back and forth. That’s quick and snappy, and you’re building off ideas of others. No matter what you’re talking about or creating, to me, that is the most fun. Those are the most fun environments. I think so much of the work that I’m excited about too, for Voltage Control is creating those environments for others because they’ve just been so impactful in my life of opportunities to collaborate and be creative with other people. And ways that we can bring that to work more is just a huge, passionate area of mine because it’s magic. It’s just so fun.

Douglas: I couldn’t agree more. I want to shift a little bit here and talk about this kind of in-person to virtual shift that happened. Especially as someone who made toys, I mean, you talked about the date night, those boxes could be shipped to people and they could share that together as two people. So, certainly we’ve seen subscription services, or even just mailing stuff to participants, but what other shifts, or what things have you noticed in this kind of transition from moving into the virtual space?

Shannon: Yeah. I think that anytime that there’s a shift or a change, whether it’s … We didn’t talk about this so much, but also design thinking has been incredibly crucial as a thread throughout my life and I learned about it probably first in, who knows? Like middle school or high school, early high school. So, it was just a framework that I feel like I’ve always just now thought through. I think that to me connects very much with this topic of seeing problems as opportunities is a big piece of design thinking.

I always looked at okay, this whole virtual world, and what’s happening, and what’s changing, and it’s evolving so quickly. And so many things are being thrown at us in different ways in the past few years. I always just saw it as an opportunity to rethink things, shake things up, and it was, okay, it’s not about how do we do the thing that we used to do that worked, and just make it virtual. It’s okay, throw it all up on the board and let’s figure out what is actually going on here and what can we do now? It’s not about just taking in-person A and making it virtual A. It’s, how do we totally redesign this and see what we can do with the tools that we now have?

And the constraints that we now have. I think a very common motto or phrase is that creativity loves constraints, and I think that’s something that I really agree with and find so true. I think that the constraints that have been put upon us through the last few years, and with the pandemic, are an opportunity for creativity, because there are so many interesting constraints. Yeah, it’s just some interesting things that happen there.

Douglas: I’m a huge fan of constraints as well. In fact, I always give the example of, the more we can scope down, the better. Because if you ask a group, how do we solve world hunger? You’re going to get a bunch of blank stares back. But if you say, how do we get bread to this family across town? They’ll probably figure that out. Right? So, how do we get it to a point that’s manageable?

Shannon: Yeah. A similar version of that question that I’ll often say if I’m talking to a group about creativity is okay, everybody, name 10 things in the world. You’ve got 10 seconds, name 10 things in the world. Quick, get out a piece of paper. And maybe the people who are listening, it’s like, name 10 things in the world, write them down. Do you have them? Probably not. You’ve got three, four, maybe. Write down 10 things that are in the room that you’re in right now. It’s far easier. You can be like, oh, microphone, headphones, computer, all those things because you can see it right in front of you. So, It’s a … But there’s way more things in the world than there are in the room that I’m in right now.

But yet, it’s much easier for me to figure out how to name 10 things of the things that I can see. That’s where I find that the constraint of the room starts to allow you say, oh, okay. I know it’s here. But when that blank paper is so big, it’s harder to know where to start.

Douglas: That reminds me of Jeff Tweedy has this really cool songwriting tip. His songwriting tip is to look around the room and just pick a thing and write a song about that thing. And the beautiful thing about this is it unlocks the creative block. Because if you’re trying to make a perfect song about a perfect thing, you’re just on this massive journey, to your point, think about all the things in the world and what I might pick. But if you just fixate on a thing anywhere near you and write a song about it, something deep inside you is going to come out.

Once that song comes out, then you can change the subject of the song. You can change words, but once it’s out of your head, then you can start to adapt it. I believe that’s the power of prototypes, getting that initial thing out. And it comes back to your story around why you have that draw to your first toy, because it was so many lessons you learned because you’re prototyping. I always encourage people, yeah, there are constraints. If you can just get something out quickly without worrying about getting it perfect, or focus in on one little thing and make something.

Shannon: Yeah, I so agree. I think sometimes it’s also giving people permission to say, it doesn’t have to be the thing, right? I think, it’s picking this focus to just get some stuff out and get yourself going because it doesn’t have to be the thing you … The business you run for the rest of your life, or even the thing that you end up prototyping, or it’s the prototype that becomes a better prototype. Just do it and get it started. I think my engineering brain is like, oh, it’s the laws of physics of an object in motion stays in motion, and object at rest stays at rest. And it takes a lot of force to get that object from rest to in motion.

It takes energy to make that happen. I think that is so true with creativity and play, and all the things that we talk about, is that you’ve just got to get it in motion. And sometimes giving yourself those constraints and giving yourself those better opportunities to build energy with creativity and with prototypes, or whatever it might be, helps that motion continue and move a little bit faster.

Douglas: I love that point. It also ties in with these programmatic offerings we’ve been talking about, which is that, if that team is in motion and they’re staying in motion, then they are able to make more progress, they’re able to continue that. Versus, if we do a thing and then it kind of slows down and stops, getting it back into motion again is really difficult.

Shannon: Yeah. You have the opportunity to build momentum when you’re in motion a little bit longer, and that you’re not having like you said, those kinds of stopping pieces every time to build back that energy, and it takes so much more energy if you’re moving from rest every single time. If we can work with an organization or a team for a longer period of time, it’s that momentum building that really starts to be transformative down the road, which is very exciting.

Douglas: Let’s peer into the future a little bit, whether it’s hybrid or VR, or any of these elements that are starting to really take root in the world around us, or even just these programmatic offerings that we’re talking about, how it might shift and create more impact, what strikes you as what begins to take root and really flourishes as we look into the future?

Shannon: Such a good question. I mean, I think, like any new opportunity of whether it’s a new technology or a new framework for doing something, it goes back to … It’s a new constraint or it’s new … We can even talk about, it’s like a new playground in a way to be able to say, okay, how do we take what we’ve learned from this thing that we’ve done or this area, or this medium that we’ve used, and take what we’ve learned into this new medium and this new playground, and build something a little different that makes sense for that, but is still informed by the things that we know and can bring to that new area? To me, it’s really exciting. It’s new tools, it’s new opportunities to play. It’s new toys in some ways.

I think especially the VR world is really interesting to me in terms of like it really does feel like a playground sometimes when you enter into that, and it’s like, ooh, what can we do here? What’s going to be that next future thing that’s going to delight us in one place, but is going to delight us and excited us in a new one? That’s just, new mediums is always fun to try out.

Douglas: That’s a really good point I have found in any of the experiments we’ve done, like the stuff we did at Control Room, and with Mural, and Facebook, it just seemed so much more playful. I was more inclined to play in that environment. I don’t know what it was. Maybe the scenery, maybe the aesthetic, or just feeling like I was near people in this open place versus being in a conference room.

Shannon: Yeah. I think, even hearing you say that too, it’s also, what’s really happening there that’s different and what made that feel so different is to me, even just hearing you say that is, it’s new. It’s new, it’s novel, which is one thing that’s exciting, but it’s also because it isn’t … You’re then missing that dreaded, it’s the way we’ve always done it thing when there’s not a way that we’ve always done it before. So, we enter into this new space and it’s like, oh, no one has done this in any way before so there’s not really that benchmark to say this is right, or this is wrong, or this is the way that it should be done when we’re all exploring it for the first time.

That’s the environments we try to build for play, but they’re inherently … They’re in a new technology or a new space, which makes it fun.

Douglas: I think that’s such a powerful point that should really be underscored. Play is the antidote to the statement, but this is the way we always do it. I love that. Excellent. Well, let’s think about how we leave our listeners with a final thought. What should they be thinking about as we close out?

Shannon: I mean, I think, even what we just said too, right? That’s got my wheels turning for sure, of how can in play be used as a tool for that dreaded term, but also for growing your own individual creativity, your own individual ability to have that and build that playful posture? In whatever, if it’s a meeting, or collaboration, or friendships, relationships, like how are you building play into your life throughout it? And how does that bleed into your work as well? Then also, how is it used as a tool for just that transformation that can occur with teams? I think all of those things are just final thoughts that I’ve got turning in my head for sure.

Douglas: Excellent. Well, it’s been a super pleasure chatting. I know we could go on and on and on. It’s super exciting to talk about these things and how leaders and teams can transform and really learn to just work in a completely new way. So, I’m excited to continue the conversation, and it’s been such a pleasure chatting today.

Shannon: Wonderful. Yeah, thank you so much. It’s definitely been fun and I appreciate the opportunity to chat more about it.

Douglas: Thanks for joining me for another episode of Control The Room. Don’t forget to subscribe to receive updates when new episodes are released. If you want to know more, head over to our blog, where I post weekly articles and resources about radical inclusion, team health, and working better, voltagecontrol.com.