What is Alchemy?
Around this time last year, we hosted a conference call to talk about one of our courses, Alchemy. The call brought together Alchemy graduates with other professionals interested in the benefits of training. It was co-facilitated by Lori Shook (co-author of the Alchemy programme) and Ozlem Berber. Everyone generously shared their experiences of applying Alchemy in their work. We also got some great questions – some of which you may have found yourself wondering!
With another opportunity to undertake Alchemy training coming up in March, I thought this might be a good time to revisit that call. I’ll also share a link to the original recording, at the end of this post.
Frequently asked questions
Two women on the call were Jan and Molly, co-facilitators who’ve worked together several years to deliver a three-day course. They described a strong and trusting partnership, and a co-facilitating relationship that has evolved by learning on the job and tweaking. Molly said she’d seen ‘magical’ co-facilitation modelled before and wondered:
“How can we transform what we already do? What is that magical ‘it’, that could take the partnership from where it is, to where it could be?”
Jan and Molly said they’ve never really interrogated what they do. Both wanted to understand what partners who’ve worked together for a while could get from Alchemy.
Another call attendee, Gail, had heard of Alchemy through her ORSC training. With limited experience of co-facilitation, she wondered what level one might need to get the best from Alchemy. She also wondered about attending the course without a partner.
These questions were echoed by fellow attendee, Joanna. She said she’d seen great co-facilitation modelled, loved it, and wanted to learn how to do it herself. But also wondered how much of the training could be taken and used in solo facilitation situations, or when you’re working with a partner who hasn’t done the course.
Who is Alchemy for?
In a nutshell: anyone who wants to be better at working in partnership. Alchemy has a wide variety of applications. From business partners, to co-presenters, to life partners, anyone who is creating and delivering in partnership can improve what they do through this training.
Alchemy reveals how the magic gets created in a partnership, and how to deepen the relationship, so that more magic shows up.
Alchemy attendees typically deliver some form of ‘experiential’ work i.e. they create an experience for people where learning happens, and they want to ensure that learning lands. The situation could be a coaching intervention, a training course, even a sales pitch. It’s assumed you will have some past experience working with groups, but you don’t need to be a fully experienced trainer. As long as you’re comfortable standing up in front of other people, that’s generally enough!
You may also enrol on Alchemy without being in an existing partnership, or bringing along a partner. The content is very applicable to solo applications. Plus the learning you’ll take away can be applied in future relationships too, even if the person you’re working with hasn’t been through the process.
Alchemy outcomes: what do you learn?
Grounded in experiential learning theory, Alchemy training helps you become more conscious and intentional in what you design and co-create. It will deepen existing relationships, helping you get to know each other even better, and it will help you plan and communicate better, with anyone you’re working with.
No matter how well, or not at all, you know your partner, Alchemy training will reveal to you how the magic in a partnership gets created. The course deconstructs what’s happening when two people work together.
A major focus of the work is developing your authority. Beyond personal confidence and presence, Alchemy highlights three distinct types of authority:
1. Authority of content
Once you have clarity on your learning outcomes, it’s much easier to go off script, or stop worrying about slides. When you and your partner are really clear on what the learning points are – what you want people to walk out of the room with – you’re committed to the content, and not to your timeline.
2. Process authority
Clarity on the learning points frees you up to shift your focus from the agenda, to working with whatever’s in the room. Alchemy explores how you and your partner will create the learning that you want to land. Recognising the partnership as a single entity, you learn how to design an alliance with a partner, so that you present as a united front and flow effortlessly.
3. Easy command
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of facilitation is dealing with ‘difficult’ participants. Alchemy helps you to reframe this challenge, to leverage negative or disruptive energy to help land learning for the whole room. Informed by neuroscience theories, participants develop ways to help learning stick, learn how to hold and keep attention where it is wanted, and master how to meet participants where they are. You learn how to create a positive, generative space in which people are open to learning.
What to expect on the course
Centred in the science that ‘happy brains learn better’, Alchemy is designed to be fun. The course models different ways you can create learning. With lots of interaction, movement, games and practical exercises, graduates describe it variously as ‘a lab’ or ‘a playground’.
Participants are paired with the same partner for the whole three day course. It encourages you to invest in developing the arc of relationship, even if you never see that partner again! The learning – how to invest in a partnership and successfully co-facilitate with just about anyone – is invaluable.
The course allows you to experience different partnerships too, with lots of opportunity to give and receive feedback. Each course cohort becomes a learning group, supporting each other.
And finally, in the words of Alchemy graduates…
“Alchemy has helped everything I do. The simple model of setting up how you design a session blew me away and has changed the way that I design any workshop, any intervention with my clients. It’s been invaluable to the way I grew my business.”
“I went on my own and I was paired up with someone. My career was in training but I hadn’t been doing a lot of that in the run up to Alchemy. I also wasn’t having a lot of opportunity for co-facilitation at that time. I found there’s a real stretch that happened in the room. The three days really challenged me to rethink the things I’d done in the past. It’s a kind of playground, or lab, to apply what we were learning, there and then. It meant that when I went out and spoke to potential clients, I felt much more confident and secure about how I would handle things like disruptive participants and making sure the learning outcomes were what was needed.”
“As an experience I absolutely loved it. It’s amazing to see a great facilitating pair modelled and then have it deconstructed. It looks so impossibly smooth and natural, then the course shows you how to get there. It makes me feel like I’ve got a road map.”
Want to know more?
You can listen to the full Alchemy conference call, which took place on 23rd January 2017, via Dropbox here. The full recording is just under an hour.
Ready to register?
Our next Alchemy training takes place in London on 9, 10, 11 March 2018. You can register here. Register as a pair to benefit from a combined discount of £160 with the voucher code ALCHEMY18A.
Still have questions?
No problem! Leave a message here and we’ll get back in touch soon.