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Amplifying Your Effectiveness (AYE) Conference 2011

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The Amplifying Your Effectiveness (or AYE) Conference took place this year in Cary, North Carolina. The conference is hosted by Jerry Weinberg, Johanna Rothman, Esther Derby, and Don Gray and consists of three days of experiential workshops. There is also an optional one day warm-up tutorial to get participants used to how the conference works while introducing some key concepts that the participants may be expected to know going in. In addition, there were two full-day sessions offered the day after the conference itself ended. The additional sessions were geared towards applying what the participants had learned over the three days of the conference.

According to the web site, the AYE conference is different because:

One thing that makes the AYE conference different is session design. At many conferences, the basic format is one or two presenters talking from the front of the room, to rows full of people seated in chairs, even in tutorials or full-day workshops. In this conference, we emphasize simulation and experience so that you can gain a more complete understanding of the material.

The warm-up tutorial covered the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment and each partiipant learned their MBTI type, as well as what that meant about them and how they might communicate.

Topics for the tutorial also included: The Satir Interaction Model, The Satir Change Model and Congruence (also from Satir). The Satir Change Model in particular would be referenced often during the conference.

Here's a sample of one of the sessions:

Organizational Mapping: Jerry Weinberg

Organizational mapping comes from Virginia Satir's approach to family system sculpting and is "one tool for gaining deep and broad understanding of an organization."

In Organizational Mapping, the participant begins by choosing an organization and a question they would like to explore related to that organization

The participant then draws a depiction of themselves on a blank piece of paper using whatever symbols or colours they choose.

From there, they can start adding other people to the map by names or aliases. They can represent the relationship using colours and positioning on the map as well as showing how they relate to each other.

Physical items can also be added to the map.

The next step was to come up with three ways to describe each person (at least one positive and one negative).

Having done that, the participant would then add any phrases that might "float in the air" in the organization as well as any organizational rules.

Having a good overall view of the organization, the participant would then take a look and colour and symbolize pain, pleasure, problems, plans, performance, and power.

The participant would then conclude the drawing with a movie-like title for their map.

Perhaps, most importantly, the participant would then share their map with someone else; explaining, answering questions, and perhaps modifying their map as a result of the discussion.

Here is a sample map:

A sample organizational map


Jerry left participants with a warning to consider when applying Organizational Mapping:

Particularly when used internally, Organizational Mapping can produce powerful insights and feelings, so the consultant and the organization must be ready and willing to deal with whatever "comes up." Disregarding this caution can lead to damaged organizations and terminated consulting relationships.

Other sessions also touched on strong emotions. Johanna Rothman's session on "Adapting to Change in Your Life" not only dealt with her challenges since being diagnosed with vertigo, but the session also revealed very personal challenges for many of the participants.

In addition, Jerry was asked to run a Birds of a Feather (BoF) session on couples communication that was at times touching, funny, and endearing.

Jason Little also wrote about a BoF session on MBTI, tempermants, and how those may map to the Schneider Culture Model.

Jason had this to say about the session:

Here’s what clicked, which is my theory. If you as a change artist understand the culture of the organization and the teams (organizations will have sub-cultures on different teams, departments, social circles etc) and the MBTI preferences of the change sponsor and people in the organization, you may be able to come up with an Agile Adoption or Transformation plan that has a higher chance for success.

Michael Mahlberg had this to say about the BoF sessions:

Not only were the main tracks of the conference deep and helpful, but even the BOFs at AYE were like mini tutorials in itself - ranging from learning techniques I can apply to everyday life (Cognititve Task Analysis, CTA via @cjunekim) over dipping my toes into improv acting which I will surely pursue in the future to be a more in-the-moment facilitator (via @toddcharron) to a writing class which I never took the time to attend to before (via Leo Hepis).

As someone who had previously attended the conference, he had this to say about the sessions:

It is fascinating how even the sessions I took already years ago enable different learnings if they are performed in a different group. True to the motto of the conference to be different from other conferences the sessions really are sculpted by the attendees conferring - as they should be at a conference in my opinion - with the host creating the learning environment and facilitating the experience - open to any new learnings that might arise.

Yves Hanoulle added:

This was the first conference in years where I went to all session blocks.

Tobias Fors provided his key take away from the conference:

One thing I always take home from AYE is the feeling of being welcome. I also always take new friendships back home with me!

Jason added:

My biggest take away was learning how to help a person fix problems instead of trying to fix the person.

Michael also had a take away specifically about the people:

This was my fourth AYE and I certainly must have reached my Dunbar number with friends from AYE alone, but Each year I just get to know more and more interesting people at AYE that I would like to stay in touch with - and more often than not I do.

The AYE conference had something for everyone this year. The scheduled sessions, the Birds of a Feather impromptu sessions, and the conversations that happened in between all provided many ways for all the participants to come away feeling more enriched than when they arrived.

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