~ 1 ~ EDITORIAL: Winning from Losing
~ 2 ~ EVENTS: Active
Workshops with Roger Greenaway
~ 3 ~ ARTICLE: The Losing
or Demoralised Group
~ 4 ~ ONLINE TRAINING
COURSE: Active Reviewing
~ 5 ~ TIPS: Six of the
ways to introduce Active Reviewing
~ 6 ~ ARCHIVE: Learning
from Triumphs and Disasters
~ 7 ~ RECOMMENDED LINKS
~ 8 ~ PREVIOUS ISSUE and
~ 9 ~ About
1 ~ EDITORIAL: Winning from Losing
When I first stepped on a windsurfer I fell in the water. I quite like
swimming and I didn't mind entertaining friends on the beach with my
continual falling off. But I really wanted to learn how to windsurf. At
point did I feel like a loser. I was enjoying the challenge of learning
a new sport without a guidebook or an instructor. I was such
adopter" that such learning "aids" did not exist. Learning from
experience was the only option. And I became a winner.
Juggling was a different story. I have made several false starts. I
have always been disappointed with my lack of success. The
difficulties overwhelmed my motivation to succeed and dented my
confidence in learning new skills..
As a learner-windsurfer I expected to fall off a lot, but despite lots
of setbacks I found myself learning the skill much faster than I
expected. As a learner-juggler I expected to learn faster than I
actually did and my
motivation to learn soon dwindled.
Expectations matter. I once witnessed a juggler coaching
session. A trainee juggler dropped one of her three balls. The coach
said "Well done - you caught two!" This seemed a bit odd to
the time, but the intention was transparently clear: focus on
achievements so that the learner can feel like a winner by bringing
their attention to progress and to what is working well..
This appreciative approach can be extended to praise effort:
"Well done. You have just spent
30 minutes of concentrated and determined practice. New habits take
time to develop and you are investing the time and the right kind of
practice that will soon bring the results you want."
After a few days of falling off my windsurfer my friend said:
"I've been watching you. The gaps
between your falls are getting longer".
I felt so good! I just wanted to make those gaps grow even more.
For more ways of applying the appreciative approach to learning take a
look at the section of my website on "Reviewing
For tips about working with a whole group that feels demoralised,
scroll down to "The Losing Group".
the best' continues below with "Six of
the best ways to introduce
This is where you are just now
- and a
special welcome if this is your first issue:
Active Reviewing Tips
free newsletter from Roger Greenaway that
will help you to re-charge your reviewing and facilitation skills.
- a practical feature on reviewing
- links to sites about active
- tips, comments and ideas from
- what's new in the Guide to Active
Reviewing at http://reviewing.co.uk
Maximum frequency: monthly. Average frequency: quarterly.
"16 years of promoting better
I welcome requests for topics you would like to see included
in Active Reviewing
Tips, any questions you would like to see answered in a FAQ, and
enquiries about trainer-training workshops (open or
where you will find this month's blog on "Rethinking
Experience Based Events"
~ 2 ~ EVENTS: Active Reviewing
Workshops with Roger Greenaway
Calendar of Reviewing Skills Training Workshops
provides the most up to date list of open/public workshops
provided by Roger Greenaway.
My next open workshop is Active
Reviewing in the Outdoors
which is a one day event at Borwick Hall, Lancashire, England on 6th
November hosted by the Northern Region of the Institute of
Learning. This event is open to non-members.
Active Reviewing Online
Have you taken a look at my new online training course on
Please let me know what you think of the free preview or of the whole
~ 3 ~
ARTICLE: The Losing or Demoralised Group
Which is the best
use in this situation?
Roger Greenaway, Reviewing
Losing Group is the third of a series of
articles in which the
starting point is a situation that you might have faced already or that
you might face in the future - as a facilitator of learning.
[Previous articles were The Forgetful
Navigator and We
Just Want Fun.]
you read through the article, please consider which of
these methods would be your own favourite response to the
situation. If your
favourite method is not described, please write to email@example.com
and share your own favourite.
SITUATION: THE GROUP IS DOWN
sense of being "losers" may have come from events before
the training programme (eg back in the workplace) or from events during
the training programme. Perhaps there was an inter-group competition
your group came last. Or perhaps your group is the only group on the
training programme but they have failed to complete a number of
challenges, or they have failed to solve a number of problems and they
feel like losers.
sense that this is not the right time for a full analysis of the
causes of failure because it might just become a negative spiral
triggering denial, blame, defensiveness, despair - and not a lot of
learning. You know that when groups support learning it can be a
powerful dynamic. You also know that demoralised groups can be at least
as powerful -
in the other direction.
wonder if active reviewing might help? Might it raise energy levels
while helping the group learn and move through this low point?
Here are some choices for you to consider...
Turntable offers an
opportunity for everyone to view the situation from different
perspectives. So rather than getting fixed in one pessimistic viewpoint
such as "We are losers", everyone moves through different perspectives,
which can include "We are the real winners"..
To get best value from this exercise you
need to choose the different perspectives with some care. But let's say
you work with just two perspectives "We are winners" and "We are
losers". You have a curved row of "winners" seats facing a curved row
of "losers" seats. Optionally (and recommended if the group is more
than 8) you can also have a curved row of seats where people are simply
listening or represent "a balanced view". Let's say you have a group of
9 plus yourself.
You would sit in the facilitator's seat. To your left would be a row of
"loser perspective" seats, then a row of "balanced perspective" seats,
then a row of "winner perspective seats" to complete the circle -
meaning that the "winner" seats are on your immediate right..
When the conversation begins, participants
are expected to represent the view that corresponds to their seat.
Every 90 seconds the facilitator stands. This is a cue for everyone to
move one place to their left. One complete circuit will take about 15
minutes. You can choose to join in the rotation or stay in the
At the very end of the discussion (which is
a kind of role-play) invite everyone to stand behind the chair which
they feel most closely represents their true perspective. In the jargon
of role play this is "de-roling". There is no need to continue the
discussion at this point, but encourage everyone to look around to see
where others stand. This quick and simple final stage helps to get
everyone out of their last role and back to reality.
Because the purpose of a training event is
to learn, a more relevant and interesting discussion will arise if you
focus on learning. For example: one side becomes "We learn more when we
win/succeed", the next side becomes "We learn more when we have mixed
success", and the third perspective becomes "We learn more when we
Or you could make it a discussion about
resilience with 3 or 4 positions/perspectives.
you try helping a demoralised group
out of their low point by having them move through different
perspectives in a Turntable exercise? Would this improve their mood and
- Position 1: Resilience means try harder
2: Resilience means be smarter next time.
- Position 3. Resilience means
focus on the positive.
- Position 4. Resilience means keep the
Rather than dwelling on
the problem, Missing
Person focuses on the solution - even if the solution is
an imaginary one (to start with).
Person you ask groups of about 5 people to create a
picture of a person who has the skills qualities and attributes of the
kind of person who might help to bring more success to the group. You
add that the person should reflect strengths that already exist in the
group (but perhaps in greater measure) as well as bringing in new
talents and powers that are not apparent in the group just now. You
also ask them to give the new person a name as soon as possible in the
Indoors each subgroup needs a table top, a
sheet of flipchart
paper and a mix of coloured felt pens.
Outdoors (ideally on a beach or in a forest) the subgroups scavenge for
items that can be included in a sculpture of the Missing Person.
The subgroups then introduce their person
and say why they would be a welcome part of the group. The audience
states why they would also welcome them.
Sometimes this is a suitable endpoint. At
other times you may want to ensure that the inspiration of these
imaginary people is turned into action, by asking the whole
group to share out responsibilities for monitoring specific aspects
they really want to see more of in their own group. These
responsibilities will be reviewed in future reviews.
As soon as you introduce creativity into
reviewing there is a risk that it may not take off in a useful
direction (as well as the risk that it might!). In my experience Missing Person
usually brings out humour, honesty, useful learning and future
direction. If they have been failing as a whole group, rather than
giving them a whole group reviewing task at which they might also fail,
have them working in groups of around 5 - because it is generally
easier to function as a group of 5 than as a group of 8 or more. Also,
there is no pass/fail mark with a creative exercise. Most groups of 5
enjoy presenting the person they have created.
If there is a reluctance to get involved
because it seems "silly", tell them that the amount of silliness is
entirely within their control, and that the kind of person they create
is their responsibility. Remind them that if they do the job well, it
is a process that will help the group turn round and move on.
try helping a demoralised group
out of their low point by
having them create and introduce a Missing Person? Would this improve
their mood and their learning?
A set of Picture Postcards
can be used in many ways to help with a reviewing process. Whenever a
picture is chosen and discussed it lifts thoughts away from the
immediate situation and creates a fresh perspective from which to view
it. Pictures can be
used in this particular scenario to help a demoralised group plan
way out of trouble.
The initial stage is to have the group
select pictures from a large pool of pictures. They are all looking for
three kinds of pictures.
These three groups of pictures are laid out on 3 separate tables, one
by one as they are chosen by any individual. This part of the process
finishes when there are 10-15 pictures on each of the three tables.
- Picture that represent our current state.
- Pictures that represent our desired state.
- Pictures that represent the kind of
journey that might help us get from 'current' to 'desired' states.
Divide the group in two. One subgroup meets around the "current state"
pictures and is asked to choose 5 that best represent the current state
... while the other subgroup is choosing the 5 pictures that best
represent the "desired state". When ready, each subgroup then presents
their choices to the other subgroup.
Two new subgroups are formed by combining each half of the "current"
subgroup with each half of the "desired" subgroup. Pictures
from the "journey" table are randomly divided in two and given to each
of the newly formed subgroups. Each subgroup works independently to
create an illustrated journey that could help the whole group move from
"current" to "desired". Allow people to include extra pictures if
When ready, each subgroup presents their proposed illustrated journey
to the other subgroup.
Keep the picture on display or take photos of them because it will be
useful to refer to these pictures in a later review - to see whether
such journeys were attempted or whether the desired state came into
view or was realised in any way (or even surpassed expectations).
Easy-to-remove sticky labels can be a useful extra when working with
pictures - to remind people of the different meanings that have been
assigned to each picture.
you try helping a demoralised group out of their low point by
having them reflect, imagine and plan using picture postcards? Would
this improve their mood and their learning?
Doing nothing is also an
option. I have found that most (but not all*) groups can readily bounce
back without the aid of the facilitator. When they achieve this
themselves without my help, I ask them to explain to me how this
happened. And if their answer is short on detail, I explain that I am
curious, but they should be curious too - because if they can establish
and appreciate how they got themselves from "demoralised" to
"energised", maybe that is a recipe they can use in future. So although
I might do nothing to "rescue" the group, I do show a lot of interest
in how they "rescued" themselves. And my favourite choice in this
situation would be to use Storyline
which can be a very revealing way
of charting a journey of ups and downs - whether they are individual
ups and downs or group ups and downs (or a mixture). Success Chart can
be another good option.
But the key option here is "doing nothing"
and letting the group sort themselves out.
you try helping a
demoralised group out of their low point by doing nothing? (Even though
you later show an analytical interest if and when they have
[* Although young groups can be highly resilient, the younger the
group, the more cautious I am about "doing nothing" as a
Which option would you choose - and
Much depends on the situation and much
depends on your personal style. But each option has its own risks (and
merits!) - and
there may well be better ways of dealing with this situation. If
your favourite strategy is not described above, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
and share your own favourite.
You can find other versions of the
methods described above at reviewing.co.uk
See the Online
Course for a video-based presentation of
Person which is is one of the 8 methods in the course.
Scroll down for "Six
of the best ways to
introduce Active Reviewing".
and for the archived pdf on "Learning from
Triumphs and Disasters".
~ 4 ~ ONLINE
TRAINING COURSE: Active Reviewing
part in this online course will enable you ...
can view the full course content and sample the training
for free by visiting ActiveReviewing.com where you will
also find reviews of the course by Sivasailam Thiagarajan (Thiagi),
Andi Roberts, Cliff Knapp and Ginette Biolan.
- To engage your students' full set of
so that their learning is rapid, significant and memorable.
- To inspire long lasting results by
immersive learning experiences.
- To become an expert in facilitating
- To master the Active Reviewing Toolkit
selection of versatile reviewing techniques.
- To use tools such as the Horseshoe, the
Action Replay and others in order to engage and empower your students.
5 ~ TIPS: Six of the best ways to introduce Active Reviewing
do it: demonstrate Active Reviewing
You can demonstrate Active Reviewing without first doing an activity.
because participants are likely to have already had plenty of
experiences that are relevant to your programme. And they can select an
experience to share through Active Reviewing. You might say something
"This course is about how to
better deal with x. But none of you are
starting at point zero: you have all had some success already in
dealing with x. So I would like you all to think of an example that you
are happy to present that describes an occasion when you
were fairly pleased with how you dealt with x."
You then introduce Storyline
ask participants to share their story in pairs or small groups using Storyline. Some
stories can also be shared in the wider group if people are happy to do
After this session you can explain that Storyline was an
Reviewing technique: it helped people to reflect, visualise and present
their story as they walked along the ups and downs of their storyline.
You can apply much the same principle by using Spokes after a
first group challenge. This Active Reviewing method takes people
quickly into a visual, scaled and movement-based form of positive
feedback. And after
you can explain how this is an Active Reviewing technique.
Explain the value of Active Reviewing
Explain that learning from experience is often described as a cycle.
One of the simplest versions is a
3 part cycle: Experience - Reflection - Learning. Explain that the
Experience is often highly engaging, but that in many training
programmes the other parts of the cycle are not as engaging as they
should be. Active Reviewing is a set of principles and methods
that aims to maintain high levels of engagement throughout the process
of learning from experience. If, after the "experience", people switch off or
become too passive or dependent, not much learning is going to happen.
You may want to add that Active Reviewing is also about switching on as
much of our learning capacity as we can. That includes our senses,
intelligences and skills. It includes divergent as well as convergent
thinking. It includes critical and appreciative thinking. It includes
reflecting and communicating using a range of different media. Not only
does Active Reviewing help people learn from recent
experiences, it also helps to develop their capacity to learn from
And if you want to make it a little more down to earth, explain that
the training programme is a practical one designed to help people do
things differently. It is not about solving problems in an ivory tower.
It aims to bring the worlds of action and learning close together so
that learning comes from action and learning is turned into further
Active Reviewing helps to bring these worlds of learning and action
Everyone shares examples of how they have learned by reflecting on
A set of Brief
Encounters questions can help to bring out these stories
in brief one to one conversations (or even in the wider group).
Questions might include:
Some of these kinds of questions might lead to conversations about
the value of reviewing (which is OK!) and some may also include aspects
of active reviewing (which is even better!)
- Has a setback ever increased your
determination to succeed? And did reflection have any part to play in
- Have you ever taken part in group-problem
solving? What kind of reflection did this involve?
- Have you ever experimented with a recipe
or tried making your own music? What part did reflection play?
- Have you ever taken on a challenge simply
because it was a challenge? What did you take away from this
experience? (and how?)
- Have you ever received unexpected praise
or more praise than you expected? How did you respond to this feedback
internally and externally?
- How do you like to learn a new practical
skill? What works best for you?
you ever gesture or draw diagrams or rearrange objects when
communicating an experience to others? If so, is it more to help you
think or to help you communicate?
evidence / examples of how Active Reviewing has worked well for other
Your own examples (as a facilitator or as a participant) will have the
If working with managers I would give examples from their world, such
as how the biggest impact for one manager taking part in an outdoor
management development programme was a reviewing session in which he
chose to make a finger painting about the balances in his life and how
he would like to change them. I might share an example of how Action
Replay has helped to repair conflict or how Future Walking has allowed
managers to experience overcoming challenges that lie ahead.
If working with young people I might describe how an Action Replay was
the highlight of an outdoor programme for one group I worked with. I
might describe how the making and receiving Gifts has been
greatly enjoyed and valued. Or how a youth group reflected on life in
local community and created and performed their own version of John
Lennon's Imagine. These were all powerful kinds of Active Reviewing.
your own before-and-after story about why you changed
from all-talk reviewing to more active reviewing
I might explain how I used Rounds,
tried out some variations and then discovered Talking Knot
is a great alternative that keeps people active and lets people join
in when they are ready, not when it is their turn and they don't feel
ready to speak.
I used to despair of
clichéd discussions about teamwork: now I am more likely to use Moving Stones
because it makes it so much easier to talk about team dynamics with a
dynamic visual aid - a simple tool that readily enhances the
quality of thinking and communication.
I used to try coaxing people to express their
feelings, but now I will often choose Empathy Test
because it is a game-like way into the world of feelings - that can be
as gentle or as tough as you want it to be.
Or I might explain how (and
why) I shifted from flipchart reviews to
"A long time ago - and before I
had come up with the Missing Person
technique, my typical-but-not-very-inspiring way of reviewing a
"failure" was to collect two lists of words on a flipchart. One list
was "things we did well". The other list was "things we didn't do
The merit of this approach was that it encouraged a balanced
view rather than a totally negative one. The huge downside was that
compiling lists is not a very stimulating or satisfying exercise and it
readily brings out superficial labels and clichés that are soon
By contrast, the Missing Person gets remembered and is a classic
example of 'the more you put in, the more you get out'. This principle
applies to the reviewing process as much as it does to the rest of
When you present the programme outline, include the planned
content of the reviewing sessions as well as the planned content of the
Take a good look at the programme
outline which you present to your participants. Does it mention
reviewing and allocate time for it? Does it describe the likely format
of each reviewing session? If you have been a reader of Active
Reviewing Tips for some time, perhaps it does. But I have seen plenty
of training programmes where there is substantial detail about the
"content" but no information about the "review" or the "debrief".
One reason for keeping the review vague and open is that
like to be flexible and responsive. But what flexibility do you lose by
presenting your Plan A (for reviewing sessions) if you also reserve the
right to change to some other plan if when the time comes you feel you
can improve on Plan A?
So you can write in your (provisional) Plan A reviewing techniques into
the sessions that currently have the one word description "Review" or
Then when you present your outline programme it can include examples of
Active Reviewing Techniques that you are planning to use at particular
points in the programme. This does not need to be a thorough or
Just the names "Action Replay", "Turntable", "Missing Person", "Back to
the Future" or "Metaphor Map" arouse more curiosity, interest
and anticipation than simply having the so-ordinary-it's-invisible word
"review" in the programme.
But you may also want to mix in a bit of strategy 2 above and explain
"These are examples of “Active
Reviewing” - an approach to reviewing which is not just an
intellectual exercise. It involves thinking aloud with others. It
includes physical movement. It involves communicating in ways that
engage multiple senses and intelligences. It uses and develops a broad
range of learning skills. And Active Reviewing also means testing out
what you think you have learned which increases the chances that you
actually use what you are learning."
you favourite from these "Six of the Best", try
and let me know how it went. And if you already have a favourite way of
introducing Active Reviewing that you
would like to share, please write to email@example.com
and this "Six of the best" might even grow into a top ten!
~ 6 ~ ARCHIVE:
Learning from Triumphs and Disasters
"Learning from Triumphs and Disasters" pdf (8 pages)
"disasters" section of this article provides you with more reviewing
options for working with a "demoralised" group. I see "disasters" as
more extreme than feeling "demoralised" but much hte same strategies
the whole spectrum of "disappointment".
~ 7 ~ RECOMMENDED LINKS
does it mean to be a great training facilitator?
This is a trainer-tools
podcast in which John Tomlinson interviews Nick Eve who runs the Facilitator
Development Programme. Nick uses a range of visual
analogies (that make up for the absence of real pictures in a podcast!)
- starting with the Iceberg and looking above and below the surface.
His emphasis is on the observation skills of the facilitator
and how different kinds of observation make different kinds of
facilitation possible. Sometimes it simply involves on drawing
attention to what
you see "above the surface" such as "I notice that two people haven't
spoken yet. How's that for the group?". Nick also takes the listener
below the surface to interpretation and self-observation and how to
make such perspectives available to the group
I found Nick's clarifications about content and process very
helpful (even though I wanted to butt in and ask what happens when the
process becomes the content). Nick's closing remarks have caused me to
review my own practice because he advises people to sort out
facilitation fundamentals before getting into tools and techniques. I
generally like to mix these together, but I can also recall occasions
when I might have done better to have heeded Nick's advice. If you want
facilitation practice and feedback with Nick in a small group setting
plus an ILM certificate, be sure to listen to this podcast and explore
ONLINE LEARNING ACADEMY (TOLA)
Thiagi has recently
launched his TOLA
platform of "blended eLearning courses on different topics designed and
delivered by our colleagues who are experts in their fields." These are
the first online courses to be published:
you try out one of these courses, you are welcome to offer a review
here. I have yet to review any of these courses but I have yet
to be disappointed by the quality of any trainer-training resource with
Thiagi's name on it.
- IMPROV for Business
- Intelligent Group Decision-making
- Presentation Skills: how to impact and
influence your audience
- SMART as HELL: creating smart goals that
- The Cost Challenge: understanding how
costs work and can make your career
NEWSLETTER FROM REVIEWING.CO.UK
Experiential-CPD Calendar lists 'trainer-training'
from several UK
providers. The events listed are of interest to
facilitators who work indoors or outdoors. The Experiential-CPD
features a 'Thought
for the Month' about experiential
learning from the editors or from readers. The latest issue features a
thought entitled "Supported
8 ~ PREVIOUS ISSUE and FUTURE ISSUES
See the previous issue of Active Reviewing
Tips: "We Just Want
Topics under consideration for future issues
- The Active Reviewing Cycle: update
- Making the case for active reviewing
- Making reviewing a memorable experience
- Reviewing as a takeaway skill for
- Evaluating Active Reviewing: how well
does it work?
- Reviewing for different outcomes (using
the same activities)
- End of programme reviews
- Co-facilitating reviews
- The art of improvising
- Remote Reviewing
- Reviewing over a cup of tea (informal
- Readers' Questions about Reviewing
(please feed me with questions for this 'FAQ')
- Sample designs for learning and
- Integrated practice in experiential
learning (when does an activity become a review? when does a review
become an activity? examples of integrated practice - and do these
challenge or demonstrate experiential learning theory?)
Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
if you have any topics you would like to see included or put at the top
of this list (which is not yet in any particular order).
9 ~ About Active Reviewing Tips
TITLE: Active Reviewing Tips for Dynamic Experiential Learning
EDITOR: Dr. Roger Greenaway, Reviewing Skills Training
of back issues
HOME PAGE: Active
like the way you look at everything and then return
to what is simple, effective and memorable."
"You always have material I don't want to miss."