More Workshops and Learning to Laugh

by | Jul 6, 2018 | PACE approach


The workshop in Gouda was the first workshop I presented with Silverside, but it wasn’t the last. I went back again in October 2014 to do two workshops (one at the new Silverside office, and one at a client), and then two again in June 2015 (same deal – one at the office, and one for a client). Each time we had around 20 people in the room, and the days were filled with questions, discussion, and shared learning.

Each trip had its share of funny moments; yes, we did a lot of work together, but we also learned to laugh together. 

One example was when four of us went out for dinner after the first workshop in Rotterdam in October 2014. One of the topics discussed at the table was children (there were 10 children represented by the four adults), and while I was silent during the conversation, the other three engaged in a heated discussion on parenting and children. It was interesting to hear their views, especially since all 10 children were mine.

Another funny moment was when I arrived late at night from Poland and needed my new black Silverside shirt ready for the next day. I had sent one across to be screen printed the Silverside way, so as to appear part of the Silverside crew at the conference we were going to. The only problem was that Roland had the shirt since it had been screen printed in Rotterdam, and so he had to iron it and bring it to the conference location on Tuesday morning. That was definitely above-and-beyond the call of duty (my client ironing my shirt!), but his ironing skills were up to par (thanks Roland!).

Milk as a drink for lunch – by adults – wow. That was different to see. At one of the client workshops, when lunch was served, most of the adults drank a glass of milk after their food; I chose water. I’m more than used to having milk on my breakfast cereal, but as a drink for lunch? That was … unexpected, but apparently it’s the done thing in the Netherlands.

There was also walking down a road with Sasja in a car park on the way to the train station after one of the client workshops. She was walking on the right and I was on the left. As we were discussing the workshop from the day, a car approached us. We both scrambled to get out of the way, only we went back to how we’d been trained as children in our respective countries. Instead of walking to the left of the road –which was closest to where I was standing – I crossed and went to the right of the road, because that’s where you stand on a country road in New Zealand – to face the oncoming traffic. And Sasja crossed and went to the left – for the same reason because that’s what you do in the Netherlands (based on, through my New Zealand lens, of driving “on the wrong side of the road.”) We laughed about the adoption implications of this – how easy it was to revert in a moment of crisis to instinctive and learned behaviour, not what would have actually been easier – Michael to walk left, and Sasja to walk right.

So while I have recounted how my story intersected with Silverside, I haven’t yet asked the bigger question. And that is, why did my work resonate so much with Roland, Effy and others? I did plenty of User Adoption Strategies workshops with other organisations around the world, but it was rare indeed to be asked to come back again and again and again.

But in order to answer that question, I have to start the story again. Before the fake beach. And tell the story of others.