Once we had a learning event in Messilä, A Finnish ski center near by Lahti. In the seminar agenda, we had written lunch, checkin, keynote, world cafe etc. The trouble was, we had not clarified to the participants what check in meant for us. Thus, when we expected people to be ready to kick off the event, they were at the reception of the hotel checkin themselves in.
We practice and use check in in all our workshops. For us, check in means opening circle of a learning event, where all the participants share something. As our friend Peter Senge once said it:
“Check in is simply answering the question What’s Up?” – Peter Senge
The idea behind check in is to ensure everyone is present both physically and mentally. In check in, us, the participants, create together shared understanding how we are feeling, and also orientating together for the learning event at hand.
Sometimes more detailed check in questions may come handy. Sometimes some facilitators and hosts use check in questions such as what is your expectation for today? Or what brings you here today? Or what questions you hold now? For us, however, it is more about simplicity. Check in is about making sure everyone is there, and that everyone shares something. Check in leads to better dialogue and thus better results. Taking time to check in may sometimes feel like waste of time, but I disagree on that. Usually in our check in’s, people share real feelings and thoughts from their heart, and that way we get the learning event or meeting into good speed and right level.
Another metaphor for check in comes from music. Like a jazz band who comes together for a jam session, we also need to tune ourselves into the session. That happens by everyone sharing what’s up.
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Design Lead, Action Learning Coach at Monkey Business