My experiences with PSL in April 2013
On April 19th, 2013 I finally arrived at PSL with Jerry Weinberg, Johanna Rothman and Esther Derby. I think I have learned a lot and I am sure I didn’t digest the whole of it yet. Nevertheless I won’t keep you waiting for an appetizer.
Five and a half days of Problem Solving Leadership class in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Plus a couple of other possibilities to learn from the class at the collective dinner the day before or at breakfast. The subject of the class was quite hazy as I didn’t exactly know what would I be confronted with. My two colleagues Markus and Jens who already attended it a couple of years ago kept explanations short and just recommended the class to me saying I would learn a lot about me and others and “You’ll learn what you need to learn” instead of giving clear answers about what the class was all about. And now I understand what they meant.
The class consists of many different training sessions. Most of them are done in the Training from the Back of the Room style (one of my colleagues objects and says it is experiential learning; very close, though) with some stories provided by the trainers. But that is just the class. All in all the class triggers many discussions and attendee interactions. In my course the people shared thoughts, experiences and learnings which lead to even more learnings.
With collaborative exercises, discussions and simulations, we worked with different models, some of which were familiar to me. I had new insights as well as revived some old ones. Who doesn’t know the saying “you can’t make everybody happy”? A very drastic example in the course called the impact back to my mind:
An attendee took (with some others) care of the organization of a shared recreational afternoon. He had the dilemma that the botanical garden which we had chosen as location was open only until 5 pm and we still had the course in the morning. Between that we needed to fit a lunch which took us normally about 1.5 hours. These constraints led to an uneasiness of the attendee how to fit all of that into our schedule. Jerry did ask him a couple of times what decision he had or needed until he was completely confused and bewildered. He cared about everyone to be content but not for himself. Jerry asked him to care for his own good for the moment. The next morning after the very enjoyable afternoon in the botanical garden Jerry asked everybody again if they were now happy how it was organized and they all answered with yes and nodding. Sure the attendee knew about that saying “you can’t make everybody happy” but such a drastic example could help to see the thing of a new point of view and to learn more because you can see the outcome.
On top of the exercises in the class and the comprehensive material which is composed for the course it is possible and advised to have a private coaching session with each of the trainers, mostly through meals. This is also very helpful and insightful and I have seen some participants completely enlightened or, like me, thoughtful after one of these sessions.
All in all the course does not only provide knowledge which can be useful to lead, coach and/or train people but also many insights about oneself. Models are not only taught by theory but by direct application to the course exercises and thus leads to more thorough learnings.
In my course (April 2013) people became very close. I knew a couple of names before (Simon, Yves and Matt) and Ilari and Lars both even in person but that is nothing compared to what good friends I found now. The trainers didn’t provide only by accident a list of thoughts how to get back to your daily life easier. I was very happy to spend two more days in Albuquerque to process the information explosion in my head. Even now the thoughts are running through my brain like mad.
This was a very good experience.