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Episode 022

July 31, 2019

022 – Conversations matter! How to design group conversations – with Daniel Stillman

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    In this episode, I talk to Daniel Stillman, a conversation designer and host of the podcast “The Conversation Factory”. We talk about the difference and similarities between facilitation, conversation design and coaching. And, we talk a lot about power dynamics and how you deal with them and take them into account when designing group conversations that shall solve a problem. In the show, Daniel and I discuss a lot about the circumstances that determine our choices of exercises – depending on the purpose of a workshop, group dynamics, and stakeholder groups.  

    Don’t miss our arguments related to the “Fishbowl Conversation” that led us to explore how to evaluate which exercises were appropriate in specific situations. 

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    Feeling inspired by the conversation in this episode? We can have our own – take a seat at my virtual table as part of a Mastermind Group.

    A huge thank you must go to SessionLab, the sponsor of Workshops Work. Claim your free two months of SessionLab Pro now – this deal is exclusive to Workshops Work listeners!

    Questions and Answers

    1:43 What’s your story? How did you turn from a BA in Physics into a conversation designer?

    5:48 How did the experience of power dynamics impact you and your style of working in designing conversations?

    10:43 Is there actually a line between being a conversation designer, a facilitator, moderator and a coach?

    25:24 So what’s according to you the most effective way to make a decision with a large group?

    27:54 To what extent do you believe does the facilitator has a responsibility to protect the group from their decisions being highjacked by the problem-owner?

    29:43 What is the key skill according to you, since you are also teaching facilitating managers, what is the key skill that they should learn first?

    30:46 Can you learn that? Can you teach that?

    33:24 According to you, what makes a workshop fail?

    37:48 So how much time do you usually spend on understanding the participants before him?

    40:53 I would be curious to hear how you define the experience in the context of a conversation.

    43:21 What’s your favourite exercise?

    46:49 If someone fell asleep after a minute, just woke up and doesn’t have time to listen to the entire show again. What do you want them to remember?


    Daniel’s conversation with Robert Bordone (Podcast,The Conversation Factory)

    Timothy Gallwey “The inner game of Tennis”

    Barry O’Reilly “Unlearn” 

    Conversation OS

    The Fishbowl Conversation (Exercise)

    Knowle’s principle of andragogy 

    Jake Knapp “Design sprint” 

    Jon Kolko’s concept of orchestrating experiences 

    Danny Meyer “Setting the table”

    Daniel’s book: “The 30 Second Elephant and the Paper Airplane Experiment: Origami for Design Thinking

    Our sponsor Session Lab 

    Connect to Daniel

    on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter @dastillman