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It IS a Numbers Game

“I know your workshop details say that this is for 10 people, but do you mind if we do it for 15?” Mind? No, we don’t mind. But it’s not about our feelings. It’s about the participants. Always about the participants.

When we design a workshop, we’re always trying to figure out what the best possible way is to communicate information within a transformational experience. Cuz if people don’t walk away having been moved, motivated and empowered to change, they might as we have stayed home and you should have saved your training bucks.

And so we play with exercises, content, timing and numbers over and over again until we feel we have the best combination for success. We consider our years of experience in watching rooms for patience, tolerance, desire to interact, and need for attention, along with the actual workshop feedback we collect on whether we developed the winning recipe. Then we iterate and change, etc. In the end, that combination dictates whether the workshop is one or two days long, whether it can handle 10 or 25 participants, what elements are in and out, and how long the day goes.

“But it’s just a few more people. Can’t you squeeze them in?” No – we can’t. Because these extra few can suddenly mean the difference between your people sitting through 20 minutes of feedback on their colleagues to 35 minutes, not once, but twice, at which point they’re twitchily watching the clock. Or a once manageable number of groups is now a disgruntled mob due to our inability get around to every table for individual support within time. Or worse, we can’t take the time to help someone who is resistant or just isn’t ‘getting it’ – even if we CAN recognize them in the sea of faces.

And speaking of time, adding people also adds time. So when the scheduled end time comes and we’re 30 minutes away from done, people who’ve scheduled post-workshop meetings are apologetically backing out of the room and we’re pissed. Truly. Not at them. But at ourselves for ever agreeing to take on the extra 5 or 10 people. Because we KNOW better.

Important to understand – training is not a lecture. That’s what happens in university and college classrooms with a professor pontificating at the front of the room for the duration of the class in an ongoing series. It’s also not a seminar. That’s a large group meeting led by an expert where discussion takes place. Training is also not a keynote speech. That’s one person on a stage talking to many, sans interaction of any kind. Training is defined as ‘the action of teaching a person (or animal) a particular skill or type of behavior’. This, my friends, takes time, energy, focus, interaction, compassion, patience, creativity and love. And that cannot be rushed.

So when we say “no” to your requests to go beyond our acceptable numbers it’s not to piss you off or try and get more money outta you. Know that we do it to protect your people, the integrity of their experience, their potential for transformation, and your investment in them. And we take that super seriously. So please forgive us if we’re also fierce about it.

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