Meeting Announcement Considerations Prior to Shipping a Pre-Read


Before you send a meeting or workshop pre-read to participants, consider a formal announcement rather than an informal calendar invite. If accepted, follow-up the announcement with the invite, and then the pre-read.

Meeting Announcements

Meeting Announcements

While all of the following is not necessary, put yourself in the position of participant. Ask yourself, “Would I be interested in knowing this _______?” Clearly if the answer is ‘yes’, then consider putting it in the meeting announcement. Some considerations include:

  • Meeting facilitator contact information; including perhaps:
    • Easy to cut and paste email
    • URL for business group or division
    • Primary telephone
    • Mobile telephone
    • URL for SharePoint or workgroup folder
  • Meeting logistics; including perhaps:
    • Date of meeting
    • Time of meeting
    • Duration of meeting
    • Location of meeting (including a map if part of a large campus setting). Plus any hints about best access such as elevator banks to take or avoid
  • Meeting participants; including perhaps:
    • List of attendees
    • Alternatively consider adding their contact information as well
    • Items that should or should NOT be brought with them
    • Request for questions they would like answered during the meeting
  • Meeting rationale; including:
    • Purpose and scope of the meeting (50 words or less)
    • Statement of meeting deliverables (ie, output) or desired outcome
    • DRAFT agenda items (knowing some minor changes may occur)
    • Other miscellany particular to your situation

While these considerations may appear burdensome, they are truly optimal. You can remove or subtract as you deem fit, but always make adjustments from the point of view of the participants, rather than what will make your life easier.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership-training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

How You Can Lead a Group in a Complex Situation to Prioritize and Decide


This quantitative approach to SWOT was developed by Terrence Metz while at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. Traditionally, SWOT is a narrative method for describing a current situation. It is typically used in strategic planning, but it also is used in product development, annual planning of projects, or current situation analysis. We have used the following quantitative approach whenever you are faced with prioritizing among hundreds of options.

The following is a simplified approach.
In our FAST curriculum, we explain quadrant analysis, baselining, temporal shift, group personality, and other esoteric factors.

SWOT analysis begins by defining each of the four areas – Strengths (what a group controls and does well), Weaknesses (what a group controls but does not do well), Opportunities (situations, events, etc., outside control of the group that provide unique opportunities for growth, change, etc.), and Threats (changes or competitive forces that may adversely impact the group). Brainstorm each list separately. Analyze each list (PowerBalls is a good tool here) to prioritize to about six of the most significant factors each.

Build a matrix (see illustrations below). Opportunities and Threats on top with Strengths and Weaknesses down the side. Explain the scoring process to the group. Each member gets “9” points (it is an arbitrary number and you may change it if you want more or fewer points). They assign the points based on the impact or leverage that each strength or weakness has relative to each opportunity or threat. The higher the impact, the higher the number. Ensure that they don’t just spread them evenly – it should be based on a business understanding. Collect the scoring. Using a spreadsheet (alumni may download), calculate the final scores for each intersection, each column, each row, and each quadrant.

Review the scores with the group and highlight the quadrants, rows, and intersections with the highest scores. Summarize from the list and have the group convert the most impactful concepts into a narrative action plan.

One Person Example
A fictitious software company employee looks at its strengths as: experience, good people, creative ideas, and product integration. Its weaknesses are newness to market and development time. Opportunities are integrated products, new market, and extensive market research data that is available. Threats are recession, other large competitors (eg, Microsoft), and hardware manufactures. The one person may scores it as follows (scored from 1 to 9, with 9 indicating greatest impact):

Fictitious Individual Scoring Sheet

Fictitious Individual Scoring Sheet

Analysis
The scoring indicates the most important strengths are their product ideas and integration. The weakness making them most vulnerable is their development time. The most favorable opportunities are integrated products and growth of computer use.

Thoughts
Strengths matter if they help take advantage of an opportunity or fend off a threat. Weaknesses matter if they prevent a group from taking an opportunity or making them vulnerable to threats. Opportunities require some strength to take advantage. This matrix helps to highlight which strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats require strategies.

Eleven Person Summary
Here is a real life example with eleven participants. Note that the moderate strengths and weaknesses had little or not impact on the plan.   Participants largely weighted their most significant strengths and weaknesses to develop actions.

Actual Eleven Person Team, Aggregate SWOT Scoring Summary

Actual Eleven Person Team, Aggregate SWOT Scoring Summary

Quantiative SWOT analysis helps focus future efforts – products, projects, strategies, and actions. It takes a few hours to complete, but it is worth the effort.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership-training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

Neuroeconomics & Neurofacilitation: Rational Decisions Maximize Utility


World scientists are striving to map activity in the human brain. Presumably, a map of neural activity will shed light on how the brain works and how choices are made. Concurrently, there has been an upsurge in related fields seeking to understand human nature and behavior change: neuroaccounting, neuroeconomics, neurotics, neurofinance, neuroleadership, neurolinguisics, neuromanagement, neuromarketing, and now . . .neurofacilitation.

Why Individual Decisions are Made

Why Individual Decisions are Made

Neuroeconomics was cited by Anna Teo (The Business Times, 01/03/13) as having developed over 50 research groups around the world, “exploring the brain processes that underlie decision-making.” Economics focuses on how people make choices, especially when they cannot get everything they want. Traditional theory asserts that rational decision-making maximizes utility, satisfaction, or well being. Yet daily, people and groups generate sub-optimal decisions, so the question remains—why?

Science has advanced tremendously the past twenty years. Look no further for proof than proximity—they now know where in the brain choosing occurs, where preferences reside, and how choices happen physically. While they soon may be able to model ‘how we choose our underwear” (or how monkeys choose their juice), we professional facilitators must be held accountable to mapping how complex group decisions are made. Business meetings could be referred to as a neural net of decision-making.

Maintaining a diligent trail of challenge and documentation provides a benchmark to support neurofacilitation. Group decisions require traceability. Take any decision back to your supervisor, executive sponsor, or steering team and they will immediately respond with “Why?” Why did your groupmake the decision they made?

Why Group Decisions are Made

Why Group Decisions are Made

Data sets are making it much easier to make more informed decisions. Teo cites three relevant examples related to individual decision-making:

1) Electronic road pricing that helps predict the changing demographics, vehicle types, and density of traffic.

2) In New York City data is available on every taxicab: whether they are occupied or empty, when patrons are waiting (or not), size of the tips, etc.

3) Equity stock selections where information abounds whom, when, how much, etc.

Yet there is no comparable example offered to shed light on the most important decisions being made that affect all of humanity, not solely one individual. For example, should we go to war, fire a missile, build a new nuclear plant, construct a new highway (or conduct road repair), approve a major project, hire a key executive, etc.

Professional facilitators ought sensitize themselves to the importance of neurofacilitation; ie, challenging the underlying rationale and carefully documenting the support behind all of the options, not only the final choice. You may never want to see the term ‘neurofacilitation’ again, but you know that it oversimplifies the true nature and complexity of group decision-making, and how groups or teams define “utility.”

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership-training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

Consensus does NOT Mean that Participants are Going to be “Happy”


A facilitator should typically avoid the term “happy”. Our effort guides a group to common or shared understanding that they can support and not lose any sleep over—something they can “live with.” Consensus does NOT mean that they are going to end up “happy.”

Look closely at the difference in meaning between the terms ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’. The ‘object’ is that outside of us that is being perceived. The ‘subject’ is the perceiver. In business, we frequently use the terms ‘objective’ as something we intend to accomplish or realize. We use the term ‘subject’ when we are referring to meeting participants, or ‘subject matter experts’.

Subject matter experts, aka SME, express their preferences, requirements, needs, priorities, likes, dislikes, etc. about ‘objects’ or things outside of their immediate control. Two people eating chili for example may disagree on the chili’s level of spiciness. What is really hot to one person may be tepid to another. They are experiencing separate realities; it, they are reacting differently to the same object (spiciness of the chili).

Scoville Units

Scoville Units

No amount of argument will get them to agree on whether the chili is too spicy or not. Clearly to one, it is, while to the other it is not. They are both right from their subjective points of view. The wrong approach would be to encourage them to meet halfway and call the chili semi-spicy. That would be like suggesting one with their left foot in a pail of hot water and their right foot in a pail of freezing water should on average, be comfortable.

Therefore a world-class facilitator strives to ‘objectify’ the subjective. Meaning, they strive to find a common ground that both parties to which both parties agree without compromise. In the case of spiciness, we might be able to get both parties to agree that the chili is neither hot nor tepid, rather they might agree that it measures 3,000 Scoville units (ie, the measure of pungency or the amount of capsaicin that makes peppers ‘hot’). The truly objective rating of the spiciness does not make either participant “happy” but it does give them a common ground about which they can argue for more or less in the specific, rather than the general.

While one may argue for more ‘heat’ and another argues for less ‘heat’ we can now more effectively facilitate precisely what is meant by heat, and wisely offer options such as offering two or three types of chili.

We are seeking agreement or consensus rather than making participants “happy” so please be careful when using the term, or similar terms that are “qualitative” by description but can be made “quantitative” through strong challenge, clear definitions, and excellent facilitation.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

Establishing Common Purpose Provides the Secret to Building Consensus


Always remember, ask WHY before WHAT before HOW when you want to lead a group of people to shared understanding. Success begins developing common ground as to WHY a group has come together to plan, analyze, or design. Use of our Purpose Tool quickly builds an integrated viewpoint that coalesces the intent and purpose behind anything—from a  large organization to a small product or process.   Only with an appeal to WHY something exists can we lead a meaningful discussion on WHAT we should do to support the purpose.

Common Purpose

Common Purpose

Create clear deliverables before your meeting, but start your meeting either building or confirming the purpose of the object of your deliverables. For example, if building consensus around a simple decision such as a gift for someone retiring, determine the purpose of the gift before prompting for options and criteria. Some in the group may be serious while others could treat the gift as a “gag” (ie, comedic relief). Best to reach understanding about the purpose of the gift before launching into gift ideas.

Contrasting the abstract with the concrete yields insight about the simple difference between WHAT and HOW. WHAT groups may need includes decisions, plans, and amplified understanding. Any discussion about deliverables such as decisions, plans, and prioritization should always appeal to WHAT is required to support WHY the common purpose exists and align with WHY it is important.

Likewise, detailed design and HOW things get done may also appeal to WHY it exists. In a safety-sensitive culture for example, risk of injury and potential damage to health, safety, or environment must be reconciled with WHY something exists. To prevent 100 percent risk abatement may be too expensive, so strive to reduce as much potential injury as common sense, timing, and budget allow.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

Challenge the Status Quo, such as “We don’t do things that way around here.”


Those of you familiar with the FAST curriculum remember the challenge of the “bookworm” exercise that only one or two students get correct per year.  Here is another similar, quickly run challenge to test groups resistant to change or inclined to simply “vote on things.”

Framing

Keeping Groups Mentally Sharp

Keeping Groups Mentally Sharp

Answer

Add an “A” tablet to the mix. Now you have two full tablets of each, not knowing which is “A” and which is “B”. Cut each tablet in half without mixing the halves. Then take one-half from each of the four tablets. The remainder will also provide the proper dosage for another treatment (eg, tomorrow).

Application

Use our “bookworm” problem, this “medicine” example, or similar “tests” to stir things up, especially with groups that become too complacent. Remember as well to remind your participants shouting “We don’t do things that way around here.” That WHAT they do may rarely change, but HOW they do it changes constantly, whether they realize it or not.

Other participants are given an understanding of the value of stimulating thinking processes throughout the day. Creative thinking is the key to breakthrough, and innovation is a primary driver of profit.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

How to (Not) Gesture while Facilitating


Nonverbal expressions, like words (see Facilitate Meaning, Not Words), connote multiple messages. After you finish this article, you will be strongly tempted to embrace the FAST recommendation—ie; keep your elbows tucked in, your hands below your heart, and keep them open, facing up. Some would call this approach, keeping your hands to yourself.

For example, extending the index and little fingers upward, with a fist shaped as a “V” (with the middle and ring fingers tucked down into the palm, along with the thumb) can signify victory or good luck in the Americas while it is considered a vulgar insult in Italy.Screen Shot 2012-01-23 at 4.01.20 PM

A single thumb up, commonly used to express “all right” in the United States, counts as the number one in Germany, the number five in Japan, and is seen as a vulgar insult in Afghanistan, among other places (akin to the middle finger prone upward in the United States).

Scuba divers universally acknowledge the clasping of the thumb and index finger into a circle (or, “AOK”) as the buddy signal that all is fine. The same signal may be seen as a vulgar insult in Brazil, Russia, and Italy while it signifies to “pay me” in Japan and displays a sense of “worthless” in France.Screen Shot 2012-01-23 at 4.01.01 PM

Even a simple nod of the head from side to side typically signifies “no” or “I’m not in agreement” in the United States, may signify “yes” or “no problem” in India and elsewhere. The slight vertical nod of the head up and down signifies “yes” or “I’m OK with it” in the United States, but it may signify “no” or “I don’t see it” in Greece and elsewhere.

While nonverbal cues are intended to simplify understanding, it is rather apparent that they can obfuscate consensus in a multi-cultural setting. As with everything, context is critical to understanding, and the role of the facilitator is to police context on behalf of the participants—so be careful, and keep your hands to yourself.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

Related articles

What to Do About the Seven Deadly Sins of Facilitating (in alphabetical order):


  1. Assuming:  Simply because the facilitator hears what was said does not imply everyone heard what was said.  The key to active listening is thorough reflection.  Whether it’s audio (i.e., spoken) or visual (i.e., written down), the facilitator’s roleistoensure common understanding, not assume that common understanding exists simplybecausesomethingwas spoken.

    Seven Deadly Sins of Facilitating

    Seven Deadly Sins of Facilitating

  1. Modifiers:  Nouns and verbs are a facilitator’s friend.  Modifier such as adjectives and adverbs cause dissent.  For example, we may all be eating the same bowl of chili, but it may be both hot (i.e., spicy) and not so hot to different people, both correct in their assessment.  Most arguments are caused by how spicy the chili is, not by whether or not it is chili.
  2. Neutrality (or lack thereof):  A session leader who offers content and judgment appears to the participants to have the “answer”.  They will go quiet as they listen to what the leader believes to be true, comparing and contrasting the espoused point of view with their own truth.  In the role of facilitator, do not offer up or evaluate content during the session.
  3. Plurality:  Ask one question at a time.  Do not try to facilitate more than one issue at once.  Close it out before moving on to the next issue.  Most groups will succeed if they are facilitated to a position where the issue is clear and properly managed, one issue at a time.
  4. Precision:  Prefer substance to style.  Avoid impersonal pronouns such as it, this, and those.  Speak clearly and substitute words like “bunch” or “lots” for consultese like “plethora.”  Strive to speak in a manner that would be understood by your grandmothers.
  5. Processing:  Session leaders that analyze the content fill their minds with analysis that places a large stress on their ability to hear what others are saying.  Analyzing participant input makes it very difficult to provide comprehensive reflection of what was said.
  6. Unprepared: There is no secret or “silver bullet” to effective facilitation if the session leader shows up ill prepared.  Aside from active listening, with a strong emphasis on reflection, there aren’t any skills to help a facilitator during a session who shows up unprepared.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

A Simple Agenda for Agreeing on Who Does What to Support an Articulate Purpose


Purpose

To support any type of descriptive or prescriptive build-out of a plan, process, or series of activities which can then be illustrated with a process flow diagram.

Rationale

Groups have a tendency to forget activities or events that occur less frequently, particularly infrequent or irregular activities that support planning and control. The following helps to squeeze out potential and costly omissions.

Simple Agenda

You may consider using this simple agenda with a brief discussion of the supporting method that follows:

  • Introduction
  • Purpose of __________ (topic, sphere, or business area)
  • Activities
    (NOTE: Take each “thing” from the purpose statement above and ask—“What do you do with this thing ?”—forcing “Verb-Noun”)
  • Sequencing
    (NOTE: Test for omissions using the Plan ➺ Acquire ➺ Operate ➺ Control prompting)
  • Value-Add
    (NOTE: eg, SIPOC)
  • Swimlanes
    (NOTE: eg, process flow diagram)
  • Wrap

Method

The developmental support steps are covered in depth in the FAST Professional Facilitative Leadership Manual. Here is a brief summary for your quick reference:

  • Determine the business purpose of the planning area, process topic, or functional sphere. Strongly suggest using the “Purpose is to . . . So that . . . “ tool.
  • Next is the first activity of the brainstorming method—List. Label the top of the flip chart with “VERB-NOUN” and ask the group to identify all the activities required to support the business purpose created in the prior step. Enforce the listing and capture them as verb-noun pairings only.
  • Use the Plan➠Acquire➠Operate➠Control life cycle prompt to help stimulate discussion about activities that are missing.
  • There needs to be at least one to two planning, one to two acquiring, bunches of operating, and at least one to two controlling activities for each business topic or scope of work.
  • After identifying the various activities (sometimes called “sub-processes” by others), convert the verb-noun pairings into “use cases” or some form of input-process-output. Build one use-case for each pairing.
  • Consider assigning SIPOC tables (a form of use cases) to sub-teams. SIPOC stands for the Source of the input, Input(s) required to complete the activity, Process (ie, our activity), Output resulting from the activity, and Customer or client of the output. Demonstrate one or two in entirety with the whole group and then separate the participants out into two or three groups.
  • For each activity (ie, verb-noun pairing), build a narrative statement that captures the purpose of the activity (ie, WHY) and HOWitis being performed, then:
    • Continue to identify the specific outputs or what changes as a result of having completed the activity.
    • Link the outputs with the customer or client of each; ie, who is using each output.
    • Next identify the inputs required to support the activity.
    • Finally identify the sources of the inputs.

An illustrative SIPOC chart is shown below based on a mountain climbing metaphor. The focal verb-noun pairing is “pack supplies”.

Illustrative SIPOC

Illustrative SIPOC

Summary of steps to be included in this sequence

  1. Identify the activity (ie, process) and its purpose and discuss WHY it is performed.
  2. Detail HOW it is or should be performed.
  3. List the outputs from the completed activity.
  4. Link the outputs to the respective clients or customers.
  5. List the inputs needed to complete the activity.
  6. Identify the source(s) for each of the inputs.

Success Keys

To build clear definition of “requirements”, provide a visual illustration or template. Additionally,

  • Have the group pre-build all the potential sources and customers of the process and code them so that when you build the SIPOC tables, the group can refer to the code letter/ number instead of the full name (thus substantially speeding up the method). As you discover new sources or customers, simply add them.
  • Learn to ‘shut up’ after asking questions and seek to understand rather than be understood.
  • Write down participant response immediately and fully.
  • Provide visual feedback, preferably through modeling.
  • Advance from activity identification to the inputs and outputs required to support the activity; then associate each with its sources and clients (SIPOC).
  • Separate the WHAT (ie, abstract) from the HOW (ie, concrete).

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

When Quality Decision Making is Not Enough and Speed of Action is Required


According to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Martin Dempsey, “Power is no longer simply the sum of capability and capacity but now, disproportionately, it includes speed—speed of action but especially speed of decision making.” (source: WSJ, Voices on the Future)

Race Against Time

Race Against Time

For any consensual and well-informed decision however, consider at least seven agenda steps to ensure a FAST quality decision:

  • Introduction
  • Purpose of the scope or object of the situation
  • Options
  • Criteria
  • Decision
  • Testing
  • Review and wrap

Do not forget to begin with the purpose of the decision or you risk combative participants with competing purposes. Also begin with WHY the situation is valuable or important before you being your analysis or WHAT discussions.

Embrace the rules of ideation when capturing options—no discussion, high energy, etc. Set them aside and immediately develop an understanding of the decision criteria. General Dempsey added that “Countering the need for speed is often the paralyzing volumes of information, which often create an illusion of control and optimal decision making.” Here is why we rely on subject matter experts, to translate the volumes of information, into the most important considerations.

Most importantly, understand how you plan to scrub the criteria and what tool is most appropriate for your situation. In our FAST Professional Facilitative Leadership curriculum, we look various methods to galvanize consensus around decisions including:

Throughout the decision step, get the group to first deselect and agree on sub-optimal options so that the number of viable options is reduced, increasing the likelihood that the group will better focus on the best candidates. Do not allow any tool to make the decision for you, but allow tools to help you de-select.

For testing, take the decision and compare it with the purpose developed in the second step of the agenda. Determine to what extent the decision supports the purpose. If the harmony is strong, the meeting is over. If there are disconnects, revisit both the purpose statement and tentative decision with questions about clarity, omissions, and deletions, until you have developed a decision that the participants can “live with” meaning they will support it and not lose sleep over it, even if it is not their ‘favorite.’

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

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