Archive for March, 2012

Perez Needed Positive Messages

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

I have huge respect for racing drivers. They demonstrate a level of focus that can be found in few other sports people. A Formula 1 driver drives each corner almost inch perfect, time after time, and their speed has to be absolutely on the button. One mistake and they are finished for that race. This is so different from almost every other sport – in team sports, there is time to rectify errors – the game doesn’t end as the first point is scored or goal is registered.  In individual sports, the tennis player can serve again or play another point, and the golfer has 18 holes (sometimes 72) if they mess one up.

And so I was watching the Malaysian Grand Prix last weekend – which was made more eventful by rain. As it drew to its conclusion, the Mexican Sergio “Checo” Perez driving for Sauber – usually one of the less competitive teams – was in second position, and appeared to have the chance to win the race. He gradually reduced the distance between himself and Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari. Finally, he was within a second of it with half a dozen laps to go. The chance was there.

Then he received a message over his radio from his pit crew. “Checo be careful, we need this position, be careful”. They needed the position because points bring in cash in Formula 1, and perhaps because this was the nearest that Peter Sauber, the team principal, had been to victory in almost 20 years of Formula 1. But ‘be careful’? And twice in the same sentence?  Checo had contended with torrential rain whilst driving at 150mph and with visibility down to a few yards for the first part of the race. Now with a relatively clear track and dry conditions he is told to “be careful”!

Almost as soon as he had received the message, he ran wide off the track, lost several seconds and that was the end of his challenge for first place. He did manage to regain control, and so finished in second place, but what could have been?

And more importantly, was the loss of control the result of being told to “be careful”?

This focussing of people’s minds on the potential pitfalls rather than on their achievements is something I come across on an almost daily basis in workplaces. I saw a sign recently on some stairs which read, “Do not spill your drink – this causes a slip hazard”. I wondered which members of staff in particular attempted or wanted to spill their drinks on the stairs. And when a drink is spilt, it appears that you don’t need to clean it up! Perhaps a better sign could have been “If you spill liquids, clean up to avoid slips – thanks” – same amount of words, but perhaps a different focus for the message – and a different message?

I also hear it a lot where children are involved – and this is the most concerning issue for me. “Don’t spill your drink”, “Be careful with your plate”, “Don’t fall over”, “Make sure you don’t fall off the climbing frame”, and so they go on. The vast majority of children have no intention of doing any of these things – they are probably already concentrating on achieving (or perhaps not failing) before hearing these ‘words of wisdom’, so what help are they? Or what hindrance are they?

“Well done for carrying that full cup”, “You carried that plate beautifully”, and “You’ve done really well getting to the top of that climbing frame” could be so much more effective. The child will grow up looking at the world in a more positive way, and they will have more self-belief.

And as they move into the work environment, perhaps we would then see fewer notices like the one above – and Checo and Peter Sauber may have won their first Grand Prix.


6D Fun From Facilitators!

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Much of the talk these days as to whether entertainment is impactive is whether it is 2D, 3D or even 4D. Well, a 4D facilitator is reasonable, but the very best are 6D! Are you?

If 6CIA is good for coaches, then the 6 Dimensions of Facilitator Style (6DFS, or sometimes 18DFS) is great for trainers and facilitators! This model was developed by John Heron to complement 6CIA, and create a helping tool for people working with groups as opposed to individuals.

Whereas 6CIA has just the 6 Categories, 6DFS has 6 Dimensions (you will see some similarities with the 6CIA Categories) together with 3 Modes.

Heron used the Modes to describe the exercise of power in the running of the group by the facilitator – moving from Hierarchical, where all the power is with the trainer, through to Autonomous where the group has the freedom to finds its own way. As each Mode can be combined with each Dimension, this gives eighteen possible combinations (hence why it is sometimes called 18DFS).

As I explained in a previous post, I find that one of the best ways of explaining this model is to imagine, as a trainer, you have a ‘mixer’ – as a producer would use when recording music. On the producer’s mixer there are 6 controls managing the loudness or softness of each instrument making up the track, which they can change as they see fit – thus enabling them to create the perfect sound. As a trainer, change the instruments to Dimensions, and the loudness / softness control to the Modes. You then use your mixer to set the Dimensions and Modes at their appropriate level for the needs of the group, amending them as you see fit.

Here’s an explanation of the Modes and Dimensions:


Hierarchical: Power resides with the facilitator who directs and acts on behalf of the group – leading from the front on behalf of the group. The facilitator makes decisions, interprets, gives meaning, challenges, etc for the group and takes on responsibility for all the dimensions described below (“does it for the group”).

Co-operative: Shared responsibility and power with the facilitator ollaborating with the group in the management of the different dimensions. All views are valid and the facilitator’s view is not final. It is part of an agreed or negotiated outcome (“does it with the group”). The facilitator prompts and helps the group when dealing with the different dimensions.

Autonomous: Here the group has the freedom to find its own way with little or no intervention from the facilitator – as the facilitator is respecting the autonomy of the group. This doesn’t mean that the facilitator has a purely passive role, but works to create an environment and conditions whereby he group is self-directing (“gives it to the group”). The facilitator has created an environment and the space for self-directed learning.


Planning: The aims and plans of the group and what should happen to achieve these. It involves the consideration of objectives, methods, resources, times, assessment and evaluation.

Meaning: How the group acquires understanding and makes sense of the learning. This includes the assessment process. Covers different sort of learning – e.g. ideas, theories, experiential. Knowledge, understanding, skills, attitudes and behaviours.

Confronting: Dealing with resistance in the group that can hamper the learning. This can come about through habit, anxiety, inexperience, wanting to take an easier route, etc.

Feeling: The management of feelings and emotions within the group and enabling catharsis. The emotions can be positive and/or negative, but need managing so that they create learning and growth and, where necessary energy is redirected.

Structuring: The implementation of decisions regarding the design and methods used. How best to carry out and structure the learning activities that the group will be involved in.

Valuing: Creating the appropriate environment in which the learning will take place. An environment where people feel valued, can be authentic, can shares concerns openly, can disclose their needs and interests, increase their self-respect and are therefore able to thrive.

I find a great way to use this model is when training trainers or when reflecting on a day’s facilitation. I have a grid with Modes along one Axis and Dimensions along the other – let me know if you would like a copy – and then make a note of where the facilitator or trainer is (or was if it is my reflections) at different times of the day. Was I in the right Mode? Did I spend too long in one Dimension? Were there any Dimensions I didn’t operate in, and if so, is that a problem? Where do I need to be operating from tomorrow / the next time I run such a session?

Try it – I’m sure you‘ll find it valuable. Find out if you are 6D!


Name that Intervention!

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

I have blogged about John Heron’s 6CIA (6 Category Intervention Analysis) model on a couple of occasions – and this is my third and final instalment. My previous posts were an overview of the model (and 6DFS), and then an explanation of ‘Degenerate Interventions’.

I have been asked for examples of each of the Interventions, so here goes:

Within Heron’s model, the 6 Categories of Interventions are classified into two main groups, Authoritative and Facilitative as shown in more detail below below.

Authoritative                    Facilitative

Prescriptive                        Cathartic

Informative                        Catalytic

Confronting                        Supportive

Heron described each of the Categories of Intervention as follows, and I have added a couple of examples for each:

A Prescriptive Intervention is intended to direct the behaviour or actions of another person by a demonstration, the giving of advice, a command or making a suggestion:

  • “You need to Speak with Sam before lunch”
  • “Send me your Action Plan by email”

An Informative Intervention seeks to impart knowledge or information to the other person by telling them or giving them a presentation.

  • “People with colour-blindness often struggle to read green lettering”
  • “The bus is cheaper than the train.”

A Confronting Intervention is intended to raise a person’s awareness about an aspect of their attitudes or behaviour.

  • “Do you realise that during that session, every question that you asked was a closed question?”
  • “On occasions you interrupt and talk over people, which tends to frustrate them.”

A Catalytic Intervention seeks to bring about self-discovery,
self-directed learning or problem solving.

  • “How could you deliver that more effectively next time?”
  • “What was it that you did that led to him reacting in that way?”

A Cathartic intervention is intended to enable or encourage a person
to divulge or discuss their feelings about a particular issue.

  • “How did my comments make you feel?
  • “What emotions did the discussion generate for you?”

A Supportive Intervention seeks to enhance a person’s self-esteem,
for instance by giving positive feedback.

  • “You did a good job there.”
  • “You handled that situation very skilfully.”

The examples above are given to illustrate each of the types of Interventions. This model is not an ‘exact science’ and so it will not always be possible to categorise every Intervention into one of the Categories. You also need to bear in mind that each Intervention is not merely the words that are used – it is also the body language that accompanies the Intervention.

I also said in my last blog that I would cover ‘Perverted Interventions’. Whereas Degenerate Interventions are rooted in a lack of awareness, experience or training, Perverted Interventions are something rather darker. They are deliberately malicious, and intended to bring harm to the client. There are suggested reasons for why people use them – generally around such practitioners being emotionally hurt or scarred earlier in their own lives – however, as this blog is about how to be helpful and skilled, I don’t intend to spend any further time in this area.

So, as a coach, facilitator, trainer or manager, how can you best use this model? Well, I have found it really useful in co-coaching, facilitator development and similar scenarios.  Using an observer to note the type of interventions made by the practitioner will lead to a beneficial discussion on the spread of interventions used, which were used least and most and whether this was best for the client. This can also be undertaken in terms of the groups – Authoritative and Facilitative – to discuss whether the best fit was achieved here, too. The practitioner can then consider where they need to develop further and action that for future occasions.

As I said in my first post on the subject, this is one of the best trainer and coaching models I have ever come across, and yet it is known and used by so few people. Hopefully this will increase its use!