Compulsory Vacationer

In the beginning of small workshops I often introduce an exercise aiming at making the participants aware of their own role in the outcome. I'm not sure where I picked it up, but it probably was from Esther Derby and Diana Larsen who combined the ideas behind agile software development with appreciative inquiry to create a new way of doing Lessons Learned sessions called “Agile Retrospectives”.

In the exercise all participants are asked to report anonymously which of the following roles they will take on during the workshop: Explorer, Shopper, Vacationer or Prisoner.

Explorers are eager to discover new ideas and insights, and really wants to contribute. Shoppers will be happy to go home with one or two useful new ideas. Vacationers aren’t especially interested in the workshop, but are glad to be away from the daily grind.  Prisoners feel that they’ve been forced to attend and can actually sabotage the workshop. Should the group consist of only vacationers and prisoners, then the workshop really needs to focus on why that is the case. Thankfully, that has never been the case during my workshops.

However, I wonder if not people take on the same role no matter the topic of the workshop. Although we certainly differ in our interest in various areas, I think our general disposition shines through.

We often get stuck in old habits. When I drive to visit my sister and her family in Jönköping, I pass a a campsite just beside the motorway at Ulricehamn. Apparently people return to this place every year and some caravans stay during winter. The view of the lake is beautiful and the small town is quaint, but the beach is nothing special and the roar from the road must be deafening. I shake my head in wonder and drive on.

I must admit though, that I too have my special places I seem to return to over and over again. One of them is the sculpture park Pilane at the west coast of Sweden (2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2009, 2007). Another is the amazing garden at Läckö Castle (2015, 2012, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007) designed by Simon Irvine who was there when I visited this year. Nearby Peter Korn's garden is also a must (2015, 2013, 2011, 2007) and he's always so nice to talk to.

I suppose it's the combination of certain recognition and elements of surprise that keeps me going back. Maybe this is a habit I share with other people!?!

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