I was facilitating a design thinking session and the group was having trouble warming up to one another, even after an icebreaker. I like to have a particular vibe of “real talk” in workshops because after all we are trying to deeply talk out and understand problems. People do not want to be offensive or seen as “dumb’ getting them going can be a challenge at times. We were fast reaching the point where folks would describe some of the problems they had documented on post-it notes. If they were not willing to talk amongst each other this would not go well. So I thought of the most comfortable place for talking among one another and even disagreeing in a safe way.
I had recently gotten a haircut because I like a clean taper before a workshop; look good feel good. So I set up a make shift chair and a galley/waiting area with the chairs in the conference room. This was the birth of a mainstay in my workshops called Barbershop/Salon Talk. A person sits in a chair as the barber or stylist pretend to cut and style their hair. They start their start with, “have you all hears about…” to which everyone replies “tell us about it” they then describe their problem and other people who are also taking post-it notes of their thought double down on their take of the problem. It’s a lot of fun and really gets people into a space where they can get deep into a problem.
When you need to get a deep conversation going set a scene and watch the dialogue flow. Improv to insights.