Leaders Make Space for Accidental Discovery

After 30 years of teaching and facilitating workshops, one lesson is abundantly clear: people learn more when exploring with others. This can be in practice, breakout groups, and table discussions.

Side conversations make learning real.

Applying learning to real-world situations and breaking it down with the people you actually work with is the way to go.

Perhaps a large group lecture or presentation can set the stage for good learning, but if all I do is present content, it will not matter how good the content is. Real changes are made with individual and small group opportunities to explore the ideas.

Breakout sessions allow thoughts that come up in the moment.

Contributions in breakout sessions begin with ideas and personal connection.

  • “Aha—yeah, and this…”
  • “What about…”
  • “Oh, I tried that once and here’s what happened…”
  • “Have you ever tried…”
  • “By the way…”

Day to day work is not the same as a training session, but daily work requires some of the same spontaneity; sometimes we call it “water cooler” talk. Some of the best insights come after meetings, when there has been time to process information. Often innovations come from brainstorming individually then bringing back those ideas to the group.

Many enterprises, including Group Dynamic, have adapted to remote work and report productivity staying at a high level. But many companies are also reporting a loss of insights which come from the “Oh, by the way…” water cooler talk. Michael Wade examines this idea in his blog post, ‘By The Way’ Remarks.

Can we have side conversations in a virtual environment? 

You can if you remember these types of conversations require intentionality and clear permission for participants to engage. Recognize the many opportunities to connect in our “better workplace normal” world.

Are you making sure you still have ‘by the way…’ conversations in your organization?

Thanks for reading,

Alan Feirer

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