“No software…Low Tech.” Those were the words George Morris and I wrote at the top of a flip chart as we identified common themes for the next business we could start together.
At first glance, that may seem odd, because both of us are former tech CEOs. George’s former business built apps, and I led a SAAS business for nearly a decade.
It’s not that we’re against technology in any way. We love our smart phones, project management and CRM software. But when it comes time to do some serious thinking, whether alone or in a group, software and screens are a hindrance, rather than a help.
Even tech businesses know: the first step towards building something great begins with the lowest-tech tools imaginable: white boards, markers, sticky notes, and face-to-face camaraderie.
That’s because our short-term memory is extremely limited. Whenever we need to consider anything beyond three or four chunks of information, most of us are toast.
Our spatial memory, on the other hand, is able to handle nearly unlimited, complex strings of information. If, for example, you take a walk through your grandparents’ home in your mind, you’ll remember the tiniest details—from what the sofa looked like, to the clock on the wall, to the designs on the dishes—even if your grandparents passed away decades ago.
That’s why business planning “war rooms” are covered with flip charts, sticky notes, and marked-up white boards on all sides. The group that builds that room together has a shared sense of mission. Everyone shares the emotional and intellectual nuance of tackling The Big Problem. Bring an outsider into that same room, and they’re completely lost.
George and I hope to assist in building many such rooms in the coming years, and in the process help give birth to countless creative business and life solutions.
Small Group Facilitation
The other themes George and I identified include:
- Simple Physical Product
- Facilitation / Group Betterment
- Collaborative Space
- Thinking, and
- Travel / Experiences
Setting aside the physical product concept, the other four items make clear why we threw together this website, and why I’m writing this post.
Both of us have extensive experience in small group facilitation, particularly from our time in Entrepreneurs Organization (EO). Both of us were forum moderators, and George served as the President of EO Colorado in 2014. It was in EO that we learned first-hand the power of well-structured meeting facilitation, and the “three pillars” of any group forum:
- Personal responsibility to participate fully
- Only speak from direct experience (AKA, Gestalt language), and
- Confidentiality: what’s said in the room, stays in the room.
Why “Barn Raisers?”
Why the name, “Barn Raisers?” For those unfamiliar with the term, a “barn raising” refers to a time when entire communities pulled together to help build a single farmer’s barn.
Barns were necessary structures for every farmer, but the cost and effort to build one were typically beyond any single farmer’s means. Community barn raisings solved that problem.
Just as importantly, barn raising strengthened community bonds, and reinforced a “we’ve got one another’s back” mentality. They were festive community events, anticipated by all.
In modern times, only Amish and Old Order Mennonite communities maintain the tradition—thus our logo.
As we were thinking of potential names for our service, we wanted to distinguish ourselves from other facilitation companies. We didn’t want to be boring and corporate, so “Morris-Sanders Facilitation” was out. We wanted an evocative name with depth, something that would touch a deeper emotion and say something about our own values.
Barn Raisers Professional Facilitation is about building something great, but also practical and useable. Our meetings build a useable structure that will serve as the scaffolding for whatever next steps your team needs to take. And, of course, we’ll create that sense of community for your team—of looking out for one another, and that we’re all in this together.
At a time in our history when manual labor means more often means the clickity-clack of keyboard typing than anything else, we wanted to remind ourselves of where we all come from, and the tenacity and toughness that courses through our blood.
Let’s Get “Good Tired”
If you decide to work with us, you’ll get a good barn raising. It will be hands-on. You’ll be physically moving your body. You’ll think in new ways. There will be rules and process, but with enough flexibility to adjust on the fly.
The singer songwriter Harry Chapin spoke about the idea of “good tired” versus “bad tired.” Ironically enough, “bad tired” can be days that you win, and “good tired” can be days that you lose. It comes down to whether or not you’re chasing your dreams, your goals, and being true to your values.
Neither of us has ever actually participated in a barn raising, but we can imagine that at the end of a barn raising day, every member of the community feels “good tired.” After a day or two with us, if we’ve done our job, our hope is that you feel the same way.