On Boxing Rings and Bouncing Castles


If you put people in a boxing ring, it’s likely they’ll box. If you put people in a jumping/bounce castle, it’s likely they’ll play. The container results in fundamentally different behaviour and it’s a facilitator’s job to craft this container… well mostly.

For a moment, consider how you feel in response to these two frames:

  • We’re here today to figure out how on earth this happened and to make sure it never happens again
  • We’re here to learn from this experience by exploring the circumstances around it and co-creating a way forward

As facilitators we create containers with our words, the structures we use and our very presence. It’s vital that we pay attention to the atmosphere we create around us and the wake we leave behind as we move through space.

And sometimes one of the best ways of doing this, is to invite the group into co-creating their container. This does not negate the responsibility for us to facilitate with self-awareness and self-management, but rather brings this awareness to the group and enhances the strength and quality of the container. We don’t have to do it alone 🙂

Both facilitation and coaching espouse the wisdom of workshop/team agreements/alliances. Investing this time is worth it. When we skip it, existing dynamics and patterns may be carried into the container and dampen its potential.

Some potential questions to invite the group to co-create their container:

  • How do we want to be together (from ORSC)
  • What things would make this group/workshop work well for you? (from SEEDS)
  • How will we keep these agreements alive?

Just as a facilitator can choose how they want to be in a session, so too can the group. Trust in their collective intelligence to know what they need. In my experience, the group always adds flavours and colours to the bouncy castle that I could never have imagined alone. The container morphs into something else when the group starts painting, and its always better for it.


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