VIPP encourages thinking outside-the-box

6 02 2013

Here is a guest post from a very enthusiastic Anne-Sophie who attended the VIPP training in October 2012. Please note this is a personal opinion and does not in any way reflect that of the organization she works with, OCHA. 


Anne-Sophie (far left) with other participants in discussion with Maruja (2nd from right), one of the VIPP trainers

As far as I am concerned, the most relevant aspect of the training was the use of different learning methodologies to empower participants and increase their participation in a learning activity. We looked at training and learning from a very different perspective (i.e. training at grass root level) than the one I am used to, which took me outside of my “comfort zone”. This allowed me to think outside-the-box and learn new, creative ways to increase the learning of others. Sharing experience with a diverse group of training practitioners under the soft guidance of an experienced facilitation team was clearly the highlight of the course for me.

I have been using visualization in designing and delivering training events in the past but this course allowed me to better understand the philosophy guiding VIPP. During the course, I was happy to experiment with new methods and better understand concepts around visualization. I feel I am now better equipped and more confident to design creative learning activities adapted to multiple intelligences thus increasing the impact of the learning experience.

My participation in this course gave me a boost and I am already sharing the knowledge and skills gained with colleagues while recommending their actual participation in the course next year. The content of the course was extremely relevant and the way it was facilitated and delivered made it highly successful. The sense of belonging to the VIPP community was nurtured throughout the course. I did particularly enjoyed the meals shared all together as a “family”. Clearly, the training venue in St Ulrich offers an excellent environment conducive to learning.

I would like to thank Maruja, Timmi and Neill and the participants of the course for a fantastic learning experience in St Ulrich.


VIPP experience from Myanmar grassroots trainer

4 12 2012

It was Aye Aye Nyein’s first foray into facilitation training. Having been involved on the ground in Myanmar, working with farmers on technology transfer and community planning, this one-week session on VIPP would be just what she needed. She was one of four participants who arrived for the Training of Facilitators in October 2012 from NGOs and grassroots organizations in Myanmar.

When asked what she felt were the highlights of the Training of Facilitators held at the Black Forest in Germany, she said that methods like Pro-Contra, Mind Mapping and Expert Interview were interesting. Aye Aye Nyein

I learnt new useful concepts, methods and tools in this VIPP training. I will apply it in my organization with facilitation training and community action planning using participatory learning.” -Aye Aye Nyein


Aye Aye added that the trainers were excellent with tremendous experience. The St. Ulrich monastery was a well-equipped facility for participants, and the training room was spacious. She felt that the training content was effective in empowering each participant in their area of work but pointed out the need for refresher courses in between.  

-Meena Arivananthan (VIPPer since 2003)

Web Resources for Facilitation Material (Cards – Pinboards)

12 02 2007

Facilitators who look for visualisation material and pinboards may check out the following web-pages either to order material or to obtain ideas about existing models, shapes, costs, etc.

Concerning the founders of facilitation with visualisation in Germany, go to the website of Metaplan: . Metaplan does not produce materials with their brand name but has created a special company by the name of NITOR to provide materials. See:

For a description of Metaplan, please go to a webpage highlighting the elements of this approach: . On this website there is also a description of various methods like brainstorming and mind mapping, as well as other approaches such as action learning, appreciative inquiry, Delphi and others.

NITOR has excellent visualisation boxes but it is Neuland who produce the best Pinboards. Neuland has subsidiary companies worldwide. You may check out:
In German:
In English – UK:
In English – US:
South Africa:
It is possible to download their online catalogue in English.

As these companies produce material for industrial use at management level for adult education centers in Europe and nowadays also for universities and for public administration, the costs are high. Pinboards can cost about 250 Euro each. A visualisation toolkit (box with all materials) costs up to 400 Euro.

However, from local manufacturers in China or Thailand pinboards and toolkits may cost only 100 Euro or less. We will soon post a contribution in this site which will document local production of such materials known to us and give contact details.

Then there are more providers of facilitation material (Moderationsmaterialien) in Germany, some having only German sites. or (a subsidiary company for facilitation and adult education of the German company for office material supplier Edding).

We invite you to write about your experiences of organising and acquiring visualisation material and how you may be able to offer a supply of the necessary materials to others.

Timmi Tillmann

Below is the photo of a basket made of bamboo by Lahu craftsmen in Northern Thailand and filled with hand made paper from Paper Mulberry in different shapes and colors. We have a new supply of baskets in Germany – you may order the fully equipped baskets by writing to me (Tillmann2003(at)

Visualisation Basket from Thailand Read the rest of this entry »

Question on facilitation in European settings

7 02 2007

Kristina Wimberley – Copenhagen

When I worked with UNICEF and WHO (1998-2002) I became completely “converted” to VIPP. However, I am wondering whether it is just as applicable in a Danish setting. In Denmark, there is an “ideology of sameness” which means that everyone should – ideally – be equal. This is expressed in many ways, but typically it involves sitting around a table at the same eye level and talking, and talking, and talking in a cosy atmosphere…. When I facilitated a session using VIPP last week, one feedback I got was that they felt that I was “distanced” from the group because I didn’t join the others in their discussions. This was because I was standing up a lot of the time and not sitting down with them. Clearly, I would do that more another time, but it got me thinking about whether I broke an unspoken cultural rule. Has anyone else experienced something similar?

Feb 5, 11:27 PM

Timmi Tillmann
In group situations exist cultural preferences and I would not deny the possibility that you may have broken a cultural rule. However, there is also another explanation: Did you make your role transparent and explain beforehand that you will be the facilitator and that the aim of this role is to make group discussions more effective and more democratic? This usually works to evoke a different reaction. Once participants feel the advantage of facilitation, they will accept it, in my experience.

Then, you may think about the value of sameness and power relations – did you affect the power balance or relations within the group by taking a different role? I have experienced that “talkshops” do not lead to action (NATO – No Action, Talk Only), participants are used to it, do not have to change their attitudes and it does not affect the status quo. By adding visualisation and key questions to organise the discussion the participants may feel challenged and uncomfortable. Such methods have been used in a lot of social development agencies across Europe and also in the private sector in some countries.