Saturday, February 25, 2012

Learning Benefits from Gift of Space

By Sonya Mau, MCLP Executive Director

Business Furniture, Inc. hosted the Multicultural Leadership Program (MCLP) learning event Thursday, Feb. 16 at their new Bloomington Conference Studio & Showroom, 205 N. Main Street in downtown Bloomington. This inaugural event for the studio highlighted Business Furniture’s strategy of giving back to the community by providing free meeting space to community organizations. In turn, we as a community organization, experienced working spaces that actually helped MCLP work and learn better!

“We believe that form must follow function,” said Kathi Builta, manager of the Bloomington Furniture office. “For organizations, we design working spaces that promotes collaborative conversations, during a meeting or between meetings.”

Here’s how the MCLP-Business Furniture connection happened.

Business Furniture first met with me and Carolyn Davis, of MCLP Curriculum Committee about our program for Feb 16. We moved from the traditional table and 25 chairs to a different solution with colorful individual Node chairs. Each chair had its own “work surface, storage area, comfortable seat & back, plus each was on rollers!” Because we had two sessions and a presentation planned for that evening, Business Furniture also provided a more casual area for dinner that included “i2i” chairs, a business lounge area that could be used to make PowerPoint presentations and café tables with paper covers for drawing up business plans.

I was amazed at how the furniture naturally became a useful part of the learning experience. For example, the Node chairs allowed the class to move around as needed. When a class discussion occurred, people easily turned to face the person speaking because the whole Node chair could turn. It made discussions richer. In our Transformational Leadership session led by Christina Schulz of the Hile Group Inc., I saw the class turn easily to each flipchart she used as she moved through the room. The whole class seemed more engaged…naturally. The furniture the participants sat in made a greater difference than I expected in keeping all involved.

“I also appreciated their outstanding service,” added Carolyn. “Kathi Builta was our point of contact and she made sure we considered all the factors during our decision-making. She was with us during the meeting even though it is mostly after hours on Thursday. That eliminated any surprises we might have experienced during our learning event.”

Bill Grace, Vice-President of Business Furniture, Inc. said, “We see ourselves as an organization that can add value to the community AND increase the understanding of all organizations about the major advances in business furniture design. We hope to demonstrate that good furniture design is also good business.”

I’m convinced Bill is right. A well-designed space with well-designed furniture did improve our learning process on Feb. 16. We are proud to collaborate with a company like Business Furniture, Inc, who shares our belief that collaborative efforts which consider diverse perspectives (in this case diverse designs) will result in better solutions. It certainly did result in a great learning experience for us!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Important Balance of Work and Life

By Monica Palmer, Eurest Dining Services

Early Saturday, Feb. 4, while many people were still in bed, members of the Multicultural Leadership Program (MCLP) Class of 2012 were shouting “I am wonderfully made. I love me. I’m worth it.”

The shouts were at the encouragement of Life Coach & Inspirational Speaker Felicia Shaw. Excited for the MCLP Work Life Balance session, Felicia begins to truly inspire the class.

“Often stress happens because we don’t say NO often enough.” How right is Felicia!

A lot of people have difficultly balancing career and a healthy personal life. Having a career which provides a sense of worth and financial stability is important to many, however it is also crucial to have the time for a healthy personal life.

Felicia came to the MCLP group with worksheets and exercises to help the participants narrow down what is important to them and provide them with time for reflection.

“If I look at your calendar and bank statements, will I see that you are spending your time and money on things that are important to you?” With this question, Felicia had the wheels turning in everyone’s head.

Highlighted in this session was scheduling, making AND completing goals, and celebrating the completion of goals. Thank you Felicia for all your tips to reduce stress, motive, and take accountability for goals!

More about the Feb. 4 MCLP session can be found here.