Toolboxes versus repertoires

One of the many many things I picked up from yesterday’s fab extended lunch with Johnnie and Viv was caution around the use of the term of “toolbox” for techniques that can be used for making meetings less dreadful.

First up, tools are used on things, and since we are using these techniques “on” (well, “with”) people, then unless you want to imply that the people in the meetings are planks, or nuts, then “toolbox” is the wrong word.

Secondly, it implies that is the “tools” are fixed objects that do not respond to the environment around them, that do not evolve.

For these and probably other good/better reasons, the preferred term was “repertoires”.

Somewhere in there we also worried about the label of “tools” might make people overconfident in their use, or reach for them as a solution at an inappropriate time. And a poorly used “tool” can discredit ‘participation’ for years to come… (“Oh yes, we tried a goldfish bowl thingie in 2007. Didn’t work…”)

Mrs Towers dissents from this view (with my permission). She points out the word toolbox can be powerful, evocative. Whatever floats your boat/cuts your plank/tightens your nuts, I guess.

See also

Dwight Towers post “if the only tool you have is a hammer, all your problems begin to look like nails

See Also
Heidegger’s broken hammer, apropos of nothing in particular…
Pete Seeger “If I had a hammer

About dwighttowers

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1 Response to Toolboxes versus repertoires

  1. rhizome says:

    Repertoires – yes I like that, though I’m not averse to the concept of facilitation or groupwork tools. However your warning is very important. Right tool for the job. And you’ll only know what the job is by careful listening, sensitive questioning and reflection. Too many facilitation guides give simplistic – “dealing with X? then do Y” advice without ever suggesting you try and figure out why X is happening. As I hope I’ve demonstrated in previous comments on this blog there are a host of reasons why certain behaviour may happen in groups and each, potentially, requires a different tool.

    But, whilst I do use the language of tools from time to time, the biggest danger is that it can lead us to believe that all we need is a toolbox. What we actually need is a facilitative state of mind. Give me that over the competent use of tools any day of the week. Tools without instinct, intuition, empathy…. no thanks. With instinct, intuition, empathy you’ll find or make up the right tools.

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