Venturing Into the Unknown: Guest article

Venturing Into the Unknown: Guest article

This week we meet with Eimear Stassin, who guides us on a venture into the unknown… 

 “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” Donald Rumsfeld

This infamous quote is attributed to Donald Rumsfeld, What he is referring to is the Johari Window Model.

Created by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham, it’s a model that I return often. There is so much that is unknown within each of us.  5% of our thinking is conscious.  The remaining 95% is subconscious. 

It is within that 95% that our Johari windowpower lies.

It is within that 95% where our resources

It is within that 95% where we access our personal Superpowers!

I introduce this model in my Group Leadership Training to empower leaders to be curious about what is possible in work and life.

To explore what they would like to happen as a way of turning attention towards their big dreams and visions.  I ask leaders to consider where they currently are – this is the edge of their knowing. I guide them to take steps beyond that knowing edge, venturing (safely) into the unknown.

When I’m coaching individual clients, new paths emerge that they say were not there before, new ways of being emerge like magic and a clarity appears that did not exist for them before the coaching.  While it is just like magic, this is the power of delving into the 95% subconscious superpowers that we all possess.

It is in this unknown arena where new insights, creativity, innovation and possibility lie. Waiting to be discovered by you, with the help of a good trainer and coach.

Enjoy integrating this into your personal leadership. 

If you like what you read and would like to find out more, you can visit me at where you’ll also find links to my social media platforms.

Big thanks Eimear for this insightful piece. 

Do you have an article you’d love to share? I am looking for contributors who are interested in sharing articles on the topics of personal development, learning and social justice. Simply email me your ideas.

What’s the difference between a trainer and a facilitator?

What’s the difference between a trainer and a facilitator?

Today’s guest article is by Kirsty Lewis from the School of Facilitation. You may remember Kirsty and I did a webinar together back in February. (Scroll down to the bottom to find out about our next exciting collaboration this summer.)

Kirsty was recently asked the question, ‘What’s the difference between a trainer and a facilitator?’ Here she shares her thoughts. 

This was the question posed to me by Krystyna Gadd and it got me thinking, is there a difference?  What is it?  What are the different skills, behaviours even beliefs that the two roles have?

Here are some simple definitions:Trainerorfacilitator
A trainer =’a person who trains a person or an animal’
A facilitator = ‘a person who makes an action or process easier or easy’

Trainers often have more knowledge than the learner, have a pre-prepared agenda, hold a clear path to be followed, use exercises to enable the learners to connect with the content and grow their knowledge. There may be a test to check understanding.

A facilitator is not a content or knowledge expert, they hold the space for the group to evolve and grow through a topic or question they are examining. A facilitator will know how to move a group through the decision-making processes, will enable problem solving and intervene when appropriate.

A quote I found suggests:
“A trainer brings the participants from unknown to known. A facilitator brings the participants from known to unknown.”

This resonated for me as there are times I am in training mode (when running coaching and sales workshops) and other times I am holding a space for a group to discover something new (at the SOF gatherings).  Is there a space and place when we have both hats and they are interchangeable? 

In this day and age of learning, creating motivating and engaging events I believe there is a place for both capabilities. 

When I started to facilitate I noticed I shifted inside.  I learnt to trust the process I had designed.  I listened to my intuition, the signals I received from the energy in the room to move the group.  One of my biggest surprises was that I had to hold the outcomes lightly.  No longer could I grasp these tightly in my hand and say this is what will happen.  I have learnt to craft the sessions outcomes, use them as a guide and then let them go to hover in the space as the facilitated session unfolds.

I think there are common skills, behaviours and beliefs that both roles share.  If you are starting to shift your way of working and become more facilitative maybe think about what you already do as a trainer think about how you can transfer these into the new setting of facilitation.


  • Creating a container that is safe, enables people to express their ideas and opinions, learn
  • Fantastic questioning skills to create engagement and probe understanding
  • Listen to what is and isn’t said
  • Sense into the energy of the group to adjust, move or continue
  • Innately understand people ie EQ
  • Decent flipchart creations!

Behaviours & Beliefs

  • Open and curious to what is
  • Adaptable
  • A deep belief in what they do
  • A passion for their role in the room


Interesting food for thought from Kirsty, particularly on the blending of the roles. 

You may have also noticed that Kirsty makes reference to the importance of ‘decent flipchart creations’ in the role of the trainer and facilitator. On that note I will be running a Graphics class for the School of Facilitation on 19th July in Oxford. I can’t wait to head down there and work with some top facilitators and trainers in the beautiful setting of the Oxford Storytelling Museum.

Fore more info and to book your place please visit At the time of writing there are only three places left!

How to win more sales

How to win more sales

This month’s guest post is from Dave Fardoe, Managing Director of Accordant Solutions who explains how simple graphics can be used to win more sales.

“Wow – that’s amazing, I love it”.

As a salesperson that’s music to your ears right? Well imagine if the majority of your sales meetings could be that way, that’s the power of Simple Graphics.

We’ve all seen the fantastic examples of graphical communications and the work done at TED talks and the like, but did you ever believe you could do it, or that you could make it part of your toolkit. I didn’t, yet, you can!

The clue is in the name “Simple Graphics” – did you know that to communicate an idea the drawing has only got to be about 30% accurate, our minds work out the rest, without help, how brilliant is that.

In sales we spend huge amounts of time trying to convey a solution to a complex problem, build rapport, convince a prospect to trust in our experience, and our solution. Often our focus gets lost, often in the wrong place, shrouded in words and charts, whitepapers and data – lots of data – so how do we focus on the solution?

Draw them a picture – of course its pre-prepared and rehearsed a hundred times, yet creating the solution visually, before their very eyes is quick, clear and magical. Use the pen to bring the ideas into focus as your narrative tells the story – you’re showing that you understand the issue, you understand it so well; you can draw it, and the solution, right here.

You can refine and explore it with them, right now; Give them a pen and watch as they lay out all their objections and together you solve them.

I’ve been selling solutions for decades and the quickest most compelling way to build rapport, to show understanding and get into collaboration ever, has been Simple Graphics – No Leonardos or Monets needed – just a few easy icons and you’re on your way.

Try it, you’ll love it.

Accordant Solutions are a team of IT Consultants offering IT Financial Management, IT Strategy and Transformation Services. For more information visit

To win more sales in your business don’t forget to book your Early Bird place on Secrets of Simple Graphics September 27th.

Guest article: How the simple act of talking recovered a dead workshop

Guest article: How the simple act of talking recovered a dead workshop

This month’s article is by Osbert Lancaster. Here he shares an invaluable technique for engaging participants in a workshop setting.

‘I’d already sidled out of the previous workshop. If I left this one too, I’d be wasting more of my time and money. So instead of walking out, I decided to step up.

“Unconferences” – where participants offer, and then lead, workshop sessions on topics they choose, are a great concept. But if that person, whatever their other qualities, doesn’t have some basic presentation and facilitation skills…

The speaker talked aimlessly about their chosen topic. Once the participants realised this wasn’t what they’d expected, they became restless and then resigned, checking their phones or staring out of the window.

I’d had enough. “Excuse me James,” I interrupted. Everyone looked up. “I’m not sure we’re all following you. Could we turn this around and ask you some questions about topic X?” A bit brutal, but the best I could come up with. James actually looked a bit relieved.

I turned to the others, “Can I suggest we spend a few moments talking with our neighbour about the things we most want to know about topic X? Does anyone have any objections? It that OK James?”

No one hesitated. The room was soon buzzing. After a short while I invited everyone to tell us all what came up in their paired discussion. A few themes quickly emerged and James was able to share his very real expertise – this time addressing the specific issues the participants wanted to know about.

“Turn and talk” is a really effective and simple activity – not just for workshops, but also for meetings. Used near the start it gets everyone in the room talking, so they are all confident to join in later, preventing a few people dominating discussion. It’s a great way to take the temperature: to hear people’s issues and concerns which can then be addressed or otherwise taken forward. It can also help with difficult decisions as people are more comfortable talking one on one than to the whole group, and more people’s views and ideas are heard.’

Osbert Lancaster is a facilitator of sustainability-related events and a specialist in green behaviour change based in Edinburgh. He is the founder of Realise Earth.

Guest article: United Colours Of Leith

Guest article: United Colours Of Leith

This month’s guest article is from Gerry Farrell of Gerry Farrell Ink who describes his work on using visuals for social change.

‘The day after the Brexit vote, racist, neo-Nazi stickers appeared in Leith, probably the most multi-ethnic and tolerant comunity in Scotland.
We (Leithers Don’t Litter) responded immediately to show that Leithers wouldn’t stand for this.
I wrote an article about it in The Evening News. The next morning about 4am I was threatened by people who claimed to be neo-Nazis and said they knew where I lived.
We called the police who came and installed a direct panic button alarm in our house.
Then we organised a 400-strong anti-Nazi, anti-racist demonstration through Leith, culminating in a rally on Leith Links.
But we didn’t stop there, we also created a very visual toolkit that could be downloaded by any community that suddenly found a racial element causing trouble or making threats in their neighbourhood.
Here is a link to the toolkit:

United Colours Campaign

We pinched Benetton’s line and twisted it so it could be adapted for any part of Britain.

We are proud to show our true colours. The United Colours of Leith.’

Gerry Farrell Ink is creative and coaching consultancy for brands and organisations that want to communicate a social purpose. For more information see

I hope you enjoyed this insightful piece from Gerry.

As I’m sure you’re aware by now visuals are an incredibly powerful tool for creating change.

The role of doodling in conflict resolution

The role of doodling in conflict resolution

Welcome to the first of our monthly contributors, Fyfe Blair, who today is sharing a fascination insight into the connection between conflict resolution and doodling…

‘John Paul Lederach is a peacebuilder whose insights have informed me in the work of conflict transformation.

In his book The Moral imagination he makes his case that it is neither the rote application of strategies nor techniques alone that enable people to generate constructive responses to the complex issues of a conflict.

Rather, he advocates a place for the (moral) imagination defined as the capacity to imagine something rooted in the challenges of the real world yet capable of giving birth to that which does not yet exist.[1]

In the book he provides a sequence of doodles which he says are drawings he would present in ‘off-the-record  meetings with people involved in conflicts’.

I have always enjoyed drawing and doodling/scribbling. I think in images/metaphors most of the time and seek to portray these to help my own understanding.

However, it was on one occasion in peacebuilding work that I truly began to see what Lederach was on about.

In the midst of a session I started to put down some images and words on the flipchart as the person spoke about the complexity of things.

It was not the brilliance of my scribbling, so much as when the person took their chair and placed it in front of the page and began to point and talk it through that I sensed they were beginning to gain some clarity and insight for themselves.

I believe that the visuals touched their imagination, offering a way of seeing what was being spoken. These together enabled them to gain perspective from another vantage point.

This instance provided me with a new perspective upon the work of conflict transformation and the way in which graphics can facilitate beyond the verbiage and that such visuals touch the imagination, bring this into the fray, providing fresh and new capacity to respond differently to the issue(s).

It has encouraged me to begin to learn and explore further how such seeming playfulness can be set alongside other tools, and used appropriately to enable people in conflicted situations to shift their observational position to offer a new line of sight that in turn may help enable them not only to generate constructive responses but indeed by touching their (moral) imagination enable them to change in their conduct.’

Fyfe Blair
Minister/works with Place for Hope

[1] The Moral Imagination: The art and soul of building peace. John Paul Lederach. 2005 p29