Zooming In and Out

when Facilitating Learning


Roger Greenaway's Active Reviewing Tips ~ ISSN 1465-8046

is no longer published but you can view more back issues in the ARCHIVES

For Roger's blog and other writings please see the Guide to Active Reviewing

  Active Reviewing Tips 15.2


Zooming In and Out  when Facilitating Learning

~ 1 ~ EDITORIAL: Zooming Around
~ 2 ~ EVENTS: Active Reviewing Workshops with Roger Greenaway
~ 3 ~ ARTICLE: Zooming In and Out
~ 5 ~ ARCHIVE: Big Picture Reviewing
~ 7 ~ About Active Reviewing Tips
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

~ 1 ~ EDITORIAL: Zooming Around

It was a happy accident that the article for this issue (about zooming in and out as a facilitation skill) happens to coincide with a concentrated period of my zooming across continents to provide trainer-training workshops in faraway places - that may be close to you. (Only a small part of these workshops is about zooming.)

My schedule for April and May includes trips to Boston (The Agile Games Conference) and New York (an open workshop: High-Octane Active & Experiential Learning). I am also providing in-house training events in Taiwan and open workshops in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Details of these events are in my workshop calendar below.

This is the second issue in this new format for Active Reviewing Tips. I hope the improved features tempt you to read it more and use it more. I welcome your feedback on the changes. You may also now feel more inclined to recommend Active Reviewing Tips to others - please use the 'forward' link in the very last line of this issue.

Also on the theme of zooming, I will be zooming around Barcelona in a few days time - hoping to set a new personal best for the marathon.

And it would be especially pleasing if my trips to the USA and China provide an opportunity for us to meet up at one of my interactive workshops! 

Roger Greenaway

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

~ 2 ~ EVENTS: Active Reviewing Workshops with Roger Greenaway

USA New York, USA. 2-3rd April 2013
High-Octane Active & Experiential Learning
Fuel your training, conference, meeting or consulting engagement with ready-to-use tools and activities unlike any other.
For details email: Ruth Almen (USA) or Roger Greenaway

USA Boston, USA. 4-6th April 2013
Keynote 'The Game After the Game' and workshops at Agile Games 2013
Games in Context: How to use games, when to use what kinds of games
Agile Games conferences explore how concepts like serious play, collaboration, and experiential learning apply to the field of Agile software development and project management.

China Shanghai, China: 14-17th May 2013
Open courses
Fundamental Reviewing Skills
(plus in-house and public workshops in Hong Kong)
For details email: Mandy Chen or Roger Greenaway

Germany Germany, 20-22 June 2013
preconference workshop, conference workshop and whole conference session
METALOG® training tools annual learning event

Malaysia Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: 19-23 August 2013
Train the Trainer: Experiential Learning and Debriefing Skills

Australia Australia, early September 2013
For details email: Roger Greenaway

The above information is copied from
The Calendar of Reviewing Skills Training Workshops
where you will find the most up to date list of open/public workshops provided by Roger Greenaway.

The Experiential-CPD Calendar
This calendar lists 'trainer-training' and 'educator-training' events from several UK providers. The events listed here are of interest to facilitators who work indoors or outdoors. The Experiential-CPD calendar features a 'Thought for the Month' about experiential learning from the editors or from readers. This sister publication has also had a makeover to make it more user-friendly.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

~ 3 ~ ARTICLE: Zooming In and Zooming Out

by Roger Greenaway, Reviewing Skills Training

Are you a zoomer in or a zoomer out when you facilitate learning? If you feel that you zoom both ways, do you know which is your preference or your dominant style?

Don't worry - I am not about to offer you a questionnaire to help you discover your dominant 'zoom style'. That would be a little tricky because 'zooming in and out' is really just a flexible metaphor that can apply to many different dimensions and situations. Here are some examples showing how you can zoom in and out with questions:


From real to what if ...

Zooming in > "What exactly did you say?"

Zooming out < "If you could replay the situation what would you say?"

From restricted to unlimited ...

Zooming in > "Can you sum up what you want to say in 3 words."

Zooming out < "What would you like to add that has not already been said?"

From essential to also ...

Zooming in > "What was the turning point?"

Zooming out < "What else helped to produce a successful outcome?"

From initial explanation to alternative explanations ...

Zooming in > "Why did this happen?"

Zooming out < "Let's take care not to jump to conclusions. Are other explanations possible?" [The actual search for other explanations might involve both zooming in and zooming out.]

From your perspective to someone else's perspective ...

Zooming in > "Why did you behave in that way?"

Zooming out < "What would x say if she had witnessed what you did?"

From this context to very different contexts ....

Zooming in > "What was the best example of good teamwork?"

Zooming out < "Would this be seen as 'good teamwork' in all situations and cultures?"

From this system to the wider system ...

Zooming in > "How has greater efficiency been achieved?"

Zooming out < "What will be the consequences for other parts of the system?"

From small picture to big picture ...

Zooming in > "Did you use your resources optimally?"

Zooming out < "What other resources / people / stakeholders could you have brought in?"

From short term to long term ...

Zooming in > "What has been the impact of your efforts so far?"

Zooming out < "How sustainable is this process?"


Zooming in and out is not just about the nature of your questions. Tasks are another option. For example:

My world – our world – their world ...

Zooming in > Make a headline for this event that sums up what was most important for you

Zooming out < Make a headline for this event that you would like to see in your organisation's newsletter.

Zooming further out << Make a headline for this event for a big circulation news publication of your choice.

From snapshot to storyboard to video clip (of future expectations) ...

Zooming in > Choose one picture (or photograph) to accompany the story of this event.

Zooming out < Choose a series of pictures (or photographs) that tell the story of this event (with no words or few words).

Zooming 'in' on behaviour and zooming 'out' to the future: Create some short video clips that demonstrate how you expect to apply your learning.

From capturing significant learning to building into a future scenario

Zooming in > Produce a group poem (or collection of phrases) that captures the essence of some of your most significant learning.

Zooming out < Draw an imaginary future team project working like a dream, adding in captions, speech bubbles or thought bubbles that re-cycle (or adapt) most of the words and phrases from the group poem.

From reflecting indoors to reflecting outdoors

Zooming in > Spend time completing your reflective journal or talking with your learning buddy.

Zooming out < Make a leisurely journey (walking or canoeing) with a learning buddy in a relaxing and inspirational natural environment. For out and back journeys, switch roles at the turning point, so that each person takes it in turns to be the centre of attention.


The value of zooming for facilitators, learners and transfer of learning

As you zoom in, new details appear that were previously invisible, and as you zoom out, the broader view reduces the visible detail but creates an ever-widening context and panorama. Zooming out reveals the macro system, zooming in reveals the microsystem.

Sometimes the patterns discovered at the micro level are similar to patterns found at the macro level. (Search for 'fractal images' for some beautiful illustrations.) When we are shown photographs without any clues about scale it can be difficult to work out whether we are looking at a span of kilometres or a span of millimetres.

Whatever you current focus, it is always worth considering whether to go large, go small or stay much the same. You are not looking for the perfect focus that you make permanent. This is because there is a value in changing focus and making connections from one scale (or zoom setting) to another. It is valuable for facilitators to be adept at changing focus in a timely fashion. It is even more valuable for participants to develop such skills.

Perhaps our hope as facilitators of learning is that zooming in (such as detailed personal feedback sessions) will reveal insights that allow participants to zoom out and discover their broader relevance. Transfer of learning often equates with 'zooming out'.

But sometimes the initial experience is a mind-opening, horizon-broadening, confidence-building, eye-widening, life-affirming, whole-world-of-possibilities kind of experience. And transfer arises from settling on a small achievable project through which to channel these mind-expanding discoveries. So transfer of learning can also equate with zooming in on the next step to take.

Have you noticed how film directors create suspense by zooming in on the detail such as close-ups of the character who is vulnerable to attack, or on the fresh footprint they have just spotted? Zooming out to wide angle provides a sense of safety – scanning the horizon so that we can see more of the surroundings from where threats may come. In darkness, floodlights are more reassuring than the beam of a pencil torch - which gives so little information to the vulnerable torch-bearer while giving mission-critical information to the assailant. The actual danger (or learning opportunity) can be near or far. The habit of zooming in and out maximises opportunities for learning from experience.

Zooming in and out: part two

In part two of this article in the next issue of Active Reviewing Tips I will provide a little more background to zooming in and zooming out – from my own research about how managers learn, with some snippets from theories about convergent and divergent thinking, analytic and contemplative thinking, tight and loose construing, and freezing and unfreezing. It is my view that the dynamic nature of these models gets eroded over time with facilitation practice drifting towards the more tangible and actionable end of the spectrum: convergent, analytic, tight and frozen.

In part two I will also show how a variable focus (zooming in and out) can help to bring more life and purpose to active and creative reviewing methods and to your facilitation style.

Roger Greenaway

Your turn!

One of the benefits of writing two part articles is that if you have any thoughts, comments, observations, references, links etc that you would like to see included in part two of Zooming In and Out, just let me know. I will only publish what you give me permission to publish.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Thanks to your purchases, Roger's Active Learning Bookshop has now raised £2,550 for Save the Children. Do all your Amazon shopping (not just books) via Roger's Active Learning Bookshop and not only do YOU get a good deal, so do CHILDREN around the world who need our help.
Thank you :-)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

~ 5 ~ ARCHIVE: Big Picture Reviewing - seeing the wood as well as the trees

Although reviewing sometimes needs to be about narrowing down, separating out, and examining the detail, reviewing can also be used for 'big picture' learning in which boundaries are blurred, bridges are built, strands are woven together and the whole is more real than the parts - because reviewing is about the wood as well as the trees.

How much do you 'zoom in' and how much do you 'zoom out' when you are reviewing? Think of reviewing as providing different lenses through which to 're-view' what happened. When participants look at an event through different lenses they notice things that were not apparent at the time. Sometimes you may want to bring out details that were overlooked. At other times you will want people to step back, zoom out and see the big picture. Big picture reviews are not just for senior executives. Learners of any age, whatever the size of their world or their responsibilities, can benefit from seeing a bigger picture. 

The 'big picture' reviewing techniques described in this article:

  • TIME LINE: seeing time by walking through it
  • THE OUTSIDER: seeing the group through the eyes of an outsider
  • TURNTABLE: seeing issues from unfamiliar perspectives
  • AS IF: experiencing different perspectives
  • METAPHOR MAP: a fresh perspective on past and future

For descriptions of individual methods, select a link above. For the whole article see Big Picture Reviewing which was originally published in Active Reviewing Tips 7.1:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


The last issue ARTips 15.1 featured the second part of Avoiding Common Traps in Reviewing.

Topics in Future Issues will be influenced by questions raised during my training workshops and by questions/suggestions from readers. Most of my writing arises from issues and questions raised by facilitators who are excited by the possibilities and benefits of experiential approaches to learning and development.

One challenge that some facilitators struggle with is trying to convince 'others' that reviewing is a valuable process. Sometimes these 'others' are colleagues whose programme design includes little or no time for reviewing. Sometimes these 'others' are the people you are working with. So a future issue of Active Reviewing Tips will offer tips about productive ways in which you can respond when faced with people who lack your own enthusiasm for reviewing.

Thanks to Damian Hesdon's message to me I am thinking of the possibilities of writing about  'reviewing over a cup of tea'. Damian wrote: "Reviewing skills are transferable to every sector and have been useful even on construction sites along with a cup of strong tea." Unfortunately it is too late to interview my grandma who was an expert on this topic (ie sorting things out over a cup of tea). So maybe you have some thoughts to share? If so, please write to roger@reviewing.co.uk

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

~ 7 ~ About Active Reviewing Tips

TITLE: Active Reviewing Tips for Dynamic Experiential Learning
ISSN: 1465-8046
EDITOR: Dr. Roger Greenaway, Reviewing Skills Training
EMAIL: roger@reviewing.co.uk Feedback welcome - especially about this new format.
ARCHIVES: Index of back issues
HOME PAGE: Active Reviewing

PRIVACY:  see foot of page

"I 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."
- Guestbook comments

Use the 'Forward' link below to forward Active Reviewing Tips to a friend.
(The box that appears allows you to add your own personal message.)
  © Roger Greenaway 2013
Reviewing Skills Training
E-mail: roger@reviewing.co.uk

Each month Active Reviewing Tips brings you:
Up to index

ARCHIVES    CONTENTS of this issue

 INDEX to reviewing.co.uk - resources for dynamic learning
 How to find your way around reviewing.co.uk
Copyright © Roger Greenaway, Reviewing Skills Training, who promotes ACTIVE LEARNING via