The Training Must Go On: Facilitating A Program From The Airport

Recently, one of CMOE clients scheduled a 1-day workshop in Milwaukee, WI, USA. And as usual, our facilitator heading down for the training was traveling to the client’s site a day prior to the planned workshop date. While the weather was clear in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, where our facilitator was departing from, the weather in Milwaukee was about to turn ugly. At approximately 3:00 pm, my client called to tell me a big storm was in route that would potentially bring 4 inches of snow to Milwaukee. At this point my client and I began to put into practice some everyday strategic thinking. We laid out a few different scenarios we could do in order to carry out the training.

Scenario 1 – Perhaps the storm wouldn’t be too bad and our facilitator would still arrive into Milwaukee without any glitches.

Scenario 2 – If the facilitator was delayed and unable to get into Milwaukee that night, we decided that we would start the workshop a few hours later since the participants were in town for an additional day and would be able to work later into the day and evening.

After discussing the two scenarios, we also made a plan to check in with each other 2 hours later to report the status of the facilitator’s flight. The first report, the airline loaded his flight and took off for Milwaukee. We hoped we had dodged the storm. A couple of hours later our facilitator called me to report that his flight had been diverted from Milwaukee to Grand Rapids, MI. He would not make it into Milwaukee that night. The plan was for him to get back on his flight and return to Atlanta for the night, and take the early morning flight and get into Milwaukee at around 8:30 am. If all went well he could still arrive in town and only have a delayed start.

Facilitation Skills At The Airport - A Story About Thinking StrategicallyWell, the next morning, I received a call from our facilitator; his flight had been delayed enough that he wouldn’t be able to get to Milwaukee in time to teach the workshop. This is when we began implementing scenario three. Our facilitator would teach the workshop from the Atlanta airport via telephone. This was possible because our client contact had seen the workshop on occasion and while he couldn’t teach the content, he could help keep structure and organization to the “tele-training.”

This created some additional everyday strategic thinking to take place. Since Atlanta is a busy airport, our facilitator was faced with a challenge to find a quiet location, that also had an outlet for power where he could keep his phone plugged in as well as his computer. With a little searching he was finally able to find a location, create a mini-mobile-workstation, and subsequently deliver a training session over the phone. The great part about this whole story is that it was a success. The company’s representative was amazed at the efforts that our team went through, from discussing the options to the final way we were forced to teach the workshop. While we couldn’t control the weather, we could control our focus and attention for how to cope with its inconvenience and put together a collaborative and strategic effort to make sure that the show went on, and pull it off successfully.

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About the Author

Matt Fankhauser

Matt began his career with CMOE and is a Regional Vice President. Matt has experience in management, marketing, advertising, and sales. He has developed and delivered personnel performance reviews, been involved with hiring, interviewing, and training processes for different employment positions. He has participated in market research and conducted interviewing involved with the research. He has delivered keynote presentations at various association meetings for SHRM, ASTD and others. He has facilitated groups in training sessions involved with the skill development of Coaching, Leadership, Team Building, Facilitation, and Strategic Thinking. He has also been involved with the design and development of Executive Team Retreats, organizational case studies and training materials, as well as the translation of organizational training materials.