It’s not just the value of cake, it’s home-made cake and made with apples out of our garden. I’ve been facilitating for a long time but pleased to say I’m still honing the craft of encouraging people to work together.
I’ve been working with an group of trustees and chief officers over the past 6 months from four different organisations to explore collaborative ways in which their services can be offered more effectively and sustainably. Set this against the backdrop of deep cuts to the community and voluntary sector and you have the ingredients of a challenging process. To add a cake analogy, mix in some strong personalities with a history of clashing and you have all you need for some interesting meetings.
Initially the meetings were a little fraught and it was clear that communications between trustees of the different organisations was almost non existent. This naturally led to some misunderstanding and levels of trust were not high. Gradually over a series of meetings the group has gelled as it’s moved through the process of change.
The gelling of the group has come about by trustees getting to know each other, be able to appreciate the standpoint of others and feeling more relaxed and trusting. The key turning point for this was cake. It’s not a trite point, sometimes you have to do something different to change the atmosphere and shake people out of their normal behaviour. On occasions this will be doing a ‘warm up’ (I don’t like them either- I’ll post on this next week) but I do like serving and making cake.
It worked a treat, when we got to a difficult part in the meeting, someone would be offered the plate of cake! It broke the tension, made us laugh, but didn’t take us off the agenda. Every subsequent meeting has seen cake, when the officers joined us for the next meeting there were two cakes- but there are limits!