Transform Your Facilitation Skills with 4 Books, 1 Blog, and 1 Phrase


I was a keynote speaker for Hudl, a really cool global sports technology company headquartered in Lincoln Nebraska, during Hudl’s employee learning and development week, “We Listen Week.” At the end of the talk, Kyle Murphy, VP People and Corporate Communication, asked me, “Jack, what books, blogs, videos or such would you recommend for facilitators?”

I wasn’t prepared to list off all the books in the moment – so I sent them a written answer and wanted to share it with you also!

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The cool thing for leaders who facilitate, is that just like in the magic that happens on the field or the court in sports, we get to see the magic of our business teams coming together with a shared creation.

To be a facilitator means your mission is to help someone else accomplish their mission; and in my opinion, that's a noble thing to do.

Here are 4 books, 1 blog post and 1 phrase that influenced me that may not be familiar to you plus an extended bonus section of impactful books I have gifted. They will positively influence your abilities as a facilitator:

  1. Cass Sunstein - Wiser. Four pitfalls of group dialogue and 8 ways to avoid it.
  2. Susan Cain - Quiet. This book completely changed the way I approached brainstorming.
  3. Otto Scharmer - Theory U. The four fields of attention are a tactical way I approach listening and teaching listening deeper.
  4. The combination of Alan Watkins - Coherence and / or Doc Childre's The Heartmath Solution. Either of these highlight the power of simple shifts we can apply that positively affect our neurophysiology for better team performance. I’ve gone a lot deeper on this over the years with the Sidekick Starting 5 other books but these were catalysts along with my wife in the medical field and learning from high performing team in sports.
  5. Read this short post - Derek is fantastic and he already edited it down to the bare essentials for you to grasp this powerful concept.
  6. Phrase: "HOW LITTLE IS ENOUGH?" I learned this from Simon Kavanaugh at the Kaos Pilots and I keep it in the back of my mind whenever I am facilitating and instructing. This phrase helps me keep things concise and exit the instruction with energy.

Bonus: I've gifted these books after reading them because they generated changes in my facilitation. There is sooooo much to unpack here. If you want to have a conversation about them just reach out and we’ll find some timeJ I’ve provided access links for ease, and I made most of them affiliate links, but some are the best places to get the information now ie. Stephen’s blog for Best Practices Are Stupid. Also, Kyle and the team at Hudl wrote back and recommended The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker and so far it’s a good read!

My most influential learning has come by doing. I've done the altMBA and a writing workshop from Seth Godin. I've learned improv exercises as starters for our projects. I like to repeat watch the top 25 TED talks of all time - there are some real gems in these. Tip: If there is a book I want to read but I just can't get to it right now, often the author has a TED talk or keynote online that will give you a good, quick understanding of the concept just by watching the video. I learn from groups and people such as the Coburn Ventures Community for Change, Innovation Leader lead by Scott Kirsner, and previously the Luma Institute, Ideo, and Kaos Pilots. I like to listen to diverse perspectives, thinking and minds. I have a couple of influential voices that I more routinely tune into such as Tim Ferriss, Adam Grant, Jamie Wheal, Derek Sivers, Brene Brown. I follow reports from sources such as the Edelman Trust Barometer, Reuters, Harvard Business Review and World Economic Forum.

Happy reading! Win the day y'all. Sincerely, your #1 Sidekick, Jack


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