Great remote facilitators need robust and resilient kit – plus an antifragile approach to their own learning. That’s what I realised as I scrambled across a giant boulder field in thick cloud this week!

The thing is, no matter how impressive the tools you’re using for your video-conference meetings and events, something’s going to fail at some point. Whether it’s a shovel going through a broadband cable or a participant joining from a train, there are just too many variables.

It probably goes without saying that:

  • You should use the best kit that you can.
  • You should insist that your participants do that, too.
  • And you should have some kind of backup plan: for example, Zoom allows everyone to dial in with an ordinary phone.

And to get good at this stuff, you need to be OK with the fact that things will not always go according to plan. Because when things go not-quite-right, and you learn from that, you become better able to handle whatever happens. 

It’s a bit like hill walking. We’re in the White Mountains in New Hampshire, USA, where the hiking is on a rather different scale to the UK. And we underestimated the difficulty of the route we’d chosen. How could it possibly take five hours to cover five miles?

We’re fit. We had maps, food, water. We had warm kit and waterproofs. We were robust and resilient.

The walk was way harder than anything I’d done before – I found it pretty hair-raising. To me, that counts as things going not-quite-right. And having survived that, I’m now stronger than before.

Both challenges – hill walking and remote facilitation – are about experimenting in ways that are safe t0 fail-within-limits. The robustness and resilience make the ‘failure’ survivable.

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