From paella to pasta: new ways to talk about old topics

We went to our favourite Spanish restaurant the other week only to discover it was now Italian.

Same name, new owner. And, it turns, out, a fresh approach.

It felt different before we picked up the menus.

First off, the waiter welcomed us and asked us what we’d like to drink. This was new. In the past, we’ve gone to the bar ourselves if we couldn’t track down someone to take our order.

 We’d always put up with slack service because the food was so good. But this was a nice change.

 Once we shifted our expectations from paella to pasta, we got another pleasant surprise. Everything on the menu was cheaper. At least $10 cheaper. Maybe we could spend a little more on a better bottle of wine.

We had the rug pulled out from under us in a very pleasant way. Better service, great food and less cost. What’s not to love?

The timing was perfect too. It made me think about the expectations of a group we’ve been working with for a few months.

As a facilitator, one of my strengths is the fresh set of eyes that I bring to an issue. As Brandon Klein and Dan Newman so wisely put it, I help groups have new conversations about old topics.

But after even just a few weeks, expectations can set in, on my part and on the part of the groups I work with.  

 I’d been working with the same group for a few months. They turned up for our last workshop expecting more of the same. You could feel it in the air as they mingled over the welcoming coffee. At the last minute, I turned the plan upside down and dived straight into the meaty content they craved.   

The sat up. Their energy lifted. Just like us when the waiter surprised us with her attention and care.

 I probably broke a few ‘rules’ of the facilitation rule book, if there is one but it served the group well.

 At the end of the day, I think they were surprised by the progress they made. They had the information they wanted, and if not, they had a much clearer idea of when they would get it and what impact it might have on the decisions that lay ahead.

 And the Italian? The octopus got the thumbs up for best entrée, the handmade gnocchi was light and ‘just perfect’. Unsurprisingly, they sold out.

 We’ll be back for more.