Secret Sauce Part 2: Clear Thinking, Active Listening, & Prepared Structure


The secret to leading more effective meetings and workshops reminds us to put a CAP on wasted time and energy by embracing three behaviors:

  • Clear thinking (ie, yields consciousness)
  • Active listening (ie, yields competence)
  • Prepared structure (ie, yields confidence)

The effective meeting leader learns to cap waste—to maintain control over direction, environment, and contributions of meeting participants. To be highly effective, requires a servile attitude. Here we cover the second item, the core skill of effective facilitators, commonly referred to as “Active Listening”.

Active listening

Groups make higher quality decisions than the smartest person in the group. Why? Because groups, when properly led, are able to create options that did not exist before the individuals walked into the meeting. Input from one participant may cause another to think of something they had not considered before the meeting. For a group of nine people, we are looking for the tenth answer. With strong leadership and a little luck, that answer may also include or instill the spark of innovation.

Discipline and structure support thorough analysis, but so will the active listening method and use of stimulating visual prompts. Ultimately we are not facilitating “words” in a meeting, so much as the meaning behind the words. Obviously, meetings occur without the use of the English language at all. Non-English meetings will still be effective because words are only the tools used by participants to signify their intent, meaning, and relationships behind the words. Subsequently, pictures and models are frequently more effective tools than narrative descriptions.

Be prepared to challenge participants. Active listening is a four-step process that is NOT like having a conversation. In a conversation we make contact and absorb what the other person is saying. With active listening we need to feed back the reasons for what we have heard, confirm whether we got it right, and challenge for substantive omissions.

The differences are in the following table.

Active Listening

Active Listening

Having a conversation takes less time. Active listening however prevents misunderstanding and can help push the envelope towards options that were previously not considered, thus improving the quality of the decisions made.

We will take a deeper view of the importance of prepared structure, methodology, and tools in our next post.

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 SolutionImprove 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.

Clear Thinking, Active Listening, & Prepared Structure are the Secret Sauce


The secret to leading more effective meetings and workshops reminds us to put a CAP on wasted time and energy by embracing three behaviors:

Clear Thinking

Clear Thinking

  1. Clear thinking (ie, yields consciousness)
  2. Active listening (ie, yields competence)
  3. Prepared structure (ie, yields confidence)

The effective meeting leader learns to cap waste—to maintain control over direction, environment, and contributions of meeting participants. To be highly effective, requires a servile attitude. Here we cover the first item, commonly referred to as leadership. Leaders answer the primary question, “Where are we going?”

Clear Thinking

Nobody is smarter than everybody. The modern leader does not have all the answers, but takes command of the questions. Through appropriate questions, meeting participants are asked to focus and generate supportable answers (or responses).

Leaders know where they are going. For most meetings, clear thinking and sense of direction is built in advance. Optimal questions are thought out and properly sequenced. If you were designing a new home for example, you would consider the foundation and structure before discussing the color of the grout.

When you are leading a meeting, it is critical that you know what the group is intending to build, decide, or leave with. What is different when they walked into the meeting? The modern leader is a change agent, someone who takes a group from where they are when the meeting begins to where they need to be when the meeting ends. You need to start with the end in mind. What does DONE look like?

Unclear speaking and writing indicates unclear thinking. Your awareness about where you are leading the group needs to be expressed in writing, for your benefit and the benefit of others. If you are unable to capture the ‘deliverable’ of your meeting or workshop in writing, you are not ready to start your session.

Meetings need to be documented—if it is not documented, then it did not happen. Therefore, an effective leader has to develop detailed awareness, in writing, that describes the end state and successful conclusion of their meeting.

If the purpose of your meeting is simply to “exchange information” then you will likely find more time and cost effective methods than meeting face-to-face. A typical meeting costs USD$20 per hour, a costly venue to simply share information.

Ask yourself, would you typically rather attend a two-hour meeting or go to a movie? Most people would rather go to a movie for at least three reasons:

  1. Movies include a beginning, middle, and an end. When did you last attend a meeting without one of those components?
  2. Movies embrace conflict. They do not scurry away from conflict; rather they use conflict to make the experience more compelling.
  3. Movies do not require involvement. It is probably easier and less embarrassing to fall asleep at a movie than a business meeting.

As a successful meeting leader, you must provide a clear purpose (beginning), a meaningful approach (middle), and a consensual wrap and dismiss (end). Unfortunately, throwing together an agenda and relying on your goodwill and charm may let you skate by as a person, but do not qualify you as exhibiting modern leadership traits.

In fact, describing the end of a successful meeting is not enough; you should be able to describe the objective of each step in your agenda. Using the home design example, you would know that at the end of the first step, you might have an articulate purpose for building your house, in 50 words or less (eg, primary or secondary or vacation home, etc; ‘to support kids or grandkids or live-in parents, etc; to be lived in for the next 25 years or five years or five months . . .’).

Leadership consciousness and awareness begins by knowing what the end looks like and in the example above, the objective would be a consensually built, 50 word statement that indicates the purpose of the new dwelling.

Once you can articulate WHY your meeting is important, then you are ready to proceed with the next step. WHAT must you do to be more facilitative? We will take a deeper view of the core facilitator tool, called active listening, in our next post.

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 SolutionImprove 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.

Differences Between Meetings & Workshops & How To Succeed Through Structure


If it seems that workshops are actually well run meetings, that is true to a certain degree. Facilitated workshops and well-run meetings are very similar. The main differences are:

Structuring Meetings and Workshops

Structuring Meetings and Workshops

Workshops

  • A building method—a way to solve a problem, develop a plan, reach a decision, agree on analytics, design a flow, etc.
  • Having formally defined roles
  • Remaining focused on one issue at a time

Meetings

  • Primarily intended to inform by exchanging information
  • Tending to have informally defined roles
  • Typically covering many issues

The FAST Structured Technique Works Because

  • Consensus derived information becomes input to the technique.
  • FAST aids analysis by supporting methodologies, such as structured analysis and information modeling.
  • Groups make higher quality decisions than the smartest person 
in the group.
  • Groups of tasks combine and finish concurrently.
  • Groups of tasks define products and directions.
  • Ownership is clear.
  • Structured workshops provide well-defined deliverables.
  • The approach is manageable.
  • The group reaches mutual understanding of the business needs and priorities.
  • The participants have well-defined roles.
  • The session leader stimulates participants with a tool kit of visual aids, documentation forms, and group dynamics skills.
  • The workshop structure and group dynamics provide complete and accurate information.

Success

The following are the critical elements necessary for the success of structured workshops and meetings:

  • A well-trained session leader with facilitation skills and technique skills—without which, execution of the workshops and preparation tasks becomes less than adequate, ad hoc, and inconsistent
  • Availability and commitment of proper resources—both people and facilities; with people providing the input and facilities supporting the environment—having less than optimum produces less than optimal results
  • Commitment from all management—ensuring availability of the proper resources, personnel, time, and support
  • Proper application of the concepts and structure of the technique—avoiding inconsistent and unpredictable results

Secret Sauce 
Summary

The secret to leading more effective meetings reminds us to put a CAP on wasted time and energy by embracing three behaviors:

  1. Clear thinking (ie, yields consciousness)
  2. Active listening (ie, yields competence)
  3. Prepared structure (ie, yields confidence)

The effective meeting leader learns to cap waste—to maintain control over direction, environment, and contributions of meeting participants. To be highly effective, requires a servile attitude. The next three issues will cover HOW TO amplify the three behaviors in detail.

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 SolutionImprove 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.

9 Components of a Structured Approach for More Effective Meetings & Workshops


A facilitated meeting or workshop technique provides a structured environment designed to extract high quality information in a compressed timeframe. It uses visual aids and a team environment to accelerate projects and amplify the quality of the decisions, outputs, deliverables, and outcomes.

The major components of the FAST facilitative leadership technique include:

  1. A model life cycle and methodology that eases adapting FAST to a variety of planning, analysis, and design methodologies
  2. An intensive educational forum providing the necessary facilitation and communication skills, tools, and an understanding of facilitated meeting roles—not dogma or other inflexible, guru-like perspectives
  3. Collaborative activities designed to encourage discovery and promote innovation
  4. Stress-tested workshop and meeting approaches molded to fit most projects situations
  5. Proficient leadership, based on critical skills such as:

    A Structured Approach for More Effective Meetings & Workshops

    A Structured Approach for More Effective Meetings & Workshops

  1. Project management and risk analysis support
  2. Reference manual and alumni membership and resources
  3. Ten uniquely defined roles including session leader, documenter(s), methodologist, business partner, technical partner, executive sponsor, team members, participants, coordinator, and observers
  4. Unique visual and illustrative communication aids called upon appropriately by a trained and certified FAST session leader.

Is NOT

A structured meeting or workshop is NOT a replacement for analytical methodologies. It works with methodologies to generate a uniform voice by providing an efficient two-way flow of information, from one person or group to another. Information developed with a consensual method provides value by becoming the foundation for additional information gathering, development, and decisions.

Session Leader

A neutral session leader (ie, facilitator/ methodologist) provides the keystone for structured workshops. The session leader understands the preparation requirements, group dynamics and appropriate methodology. The session leader is responsible for the managing the approach—the agenda, the ground rules, the flow of the conversation, etc—but not the content of the discussion, or even necessarily the project(s) being supported by the discussion and decisions.

Effective Facilitator

Various academic research has found that the most effective type of facilitator was one that actively elicited questions and responses from the quietest participants to enable a balance among the players. Effectiveness is best achieved by building a safe and trustworthy environment, one that provides “permission to speak freely,” without fear of reprisal or economic loss.

Defined Products

The type of documentation they generate drives workshop techniques. Some use templates to organize the notes taken during a workshop. The information collected starts out as raw or draft notes. Draft notes provide formal input to the project process. However, the meeting or workshop is not synonymous with the project, rather it compliments additional tasks and activities performed before and after the meeting or workshop, typically by the project team. A clear and consensually agreed upon path of next steps and “WHO does WHAT and WHEN” becomes the most common deliverable of meetings and workshops.

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 SolutionImprove 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.

Meeting Impact: Poor Facilitation Leads to Problems, Struggles, and Errors


“Perversely, organizations with the best human resource departments sometimes have less effective teams. That’s because HR tends to focus on improving individual rather than team behavior.”

— Diane Coutu, HBR, May 2009, pg 99

A primary concern in meetings and information gathering activities is getting good information—to build the right product the first time—and to make well-informed decisions. Significant trends are imbedding the role of ‘facilitator’ in the culture and health of modern, especially holistic, organizations.

Successful Meetings Demand Collaboration

Successful Meetings Demand Collaboration

Group decision-making processes are more prevalent than ever. Intellectual capital is critical to the growth and profit of service organizations. Manufacturers are becoming “infomediaries” and sourcing production based on worldwide, not parochial, views. Innovation determines the future prosperity of most organizations:

Meta-trends demand facilitative leadership

  • Cultural modernization—the basic tenets of modern cultures include equality, personal freedom, and individual requirements.
  • Economic globalization—in developed economies, where formal institutions sustain order and predictability, consensus is critical to survival.
  • Universal connectivity—information technology continues to inundate us with capabilities and the “death of distance”, when we can find what we need.
  • Transactional transparency—ubiquitous computing and comprehensive electronic documentation make leaders and decision makers exposed.
  • Individual limitations—empirical evidence that groups make higher quality decisions and are better at addressing more difficult or complex challenges.

Problems

Decision-making and information gathering share two problems:

  • The first is the communication gap between those who have the information (eg, information technology) and those who need to use it to build something (eg, business community or product development).
  • The second is the invariable power struggle between the players involved. Egos make building consensus a significant challenge.

Power Struggles

The power struggles between various departments or business units are often the result of language differences. Frequently, power struggles are not intentional but occur because of differing perspectives around the same issue. Reconciliation may be critical to organizational success, particularly for proactive organizations that want to lead change rather than be changed.

Errors & Omissions

The most effective way to reduce the cost of reaching objectives is to reduce errors and omissions. Groups can recall and remember more than individuals and are capable of using the input of individuals to create an integrative response. Consensus helps prevent errors, but more importantly, it helps prevent omissions.

Help Needed

Numerous analytical methodologies, design methodologies, life cycle techniques, etc, have evolved to address errors in the planning and development phase. While methodologies work well in analysis and design, they have not successfully addressed the information gathering necessary to gather effective and timely input.  See next week’s column for the solution.

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 SolutionImprove 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.

The Application, Scope, and Benefits of Facilitative Leadership


We want you to see that facilitative leadership does not apply to all situations, but is ideally suited for projects and teams where the leader is coordinating the efforts of competent specialists in complex situations. The best leaders are flexible because both modes of leadership have their place.

Participants should also come to understand that they could shift to a facilitative mode once their staff possesses the capacity to work independently and assumes responsibility for outcomes. Task-focused direction is required for the close oversight of tasks. Structure-focused direction works best when leading teams of experts.

Facilitative Leadership May Improve Quality, Reduce Costs, and Optimize Timing

Facilitative Leadership May Improve Quality, Reduce Costs, and Optimize Timing

The following questions can be asked to determine if a project or team is best suited for facilitative leadership:

  • Are some of the team decisions extremely complex or sensitive?
  • Are team members evaluated with different performance measurement systems?
  • Are the leaders operating without direct authority over some of the members?
  • Does the project cross multiple lines of business or departments?
  • Do the decisions require broad support and commitment from stakeholders?
  • Does the situation call for a leader who is seen to be neutral by 
all parties?
  • Is the group dealing with historically hostile parties or complex bureaucracies?
  • Is the project tied to a critical time frame?
  • Is the project striving to accomplish something new to the organization or resurrecting something that failed before?
  • Will the effort or project require initiative, creativity, and innovation?
  • Will the team be communicating across time zones, cultures, and organizational boundaries?
  • Will you have strong subject matter experts who need to align around new goals or outcomes?
  • Will you need group members be self-motivated because they are working independently?
  • Will you need your group to perform as a cohesive team that meets periodically?

Benefits

Benefits will ensue both to the organization and the participants. In a networked world, organizations that deploy skilled facilitators to lead projects and others teams, have allocated human capital to ensure the success of their most expensive investment—meetings.

  • As context is carefully managed, teams are free to focus on higher quality content
  • As staff is treated as collegial, commitment and motivation increases
  • As stakeholders’ ideas are sought, meeting activity becomes more collaborative and innovative
  • With assertive structure and facilitation, quality dialogue becomes the focus
  • For modern leaders who have been successful with their existing style, they may accrue additional benefits from the increased flexibility of adapting a facilitative style:
  • Facilitative leadership makes it easier to develop new leaders
  • Greater commitment and buy-in through stakeholder input and involvement
  • Improved, self-managing teams
  • Increased ability to help others make complex, collaborative decisions
  • Increased return-on-meeting time and investment

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 SolutionImprove 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.

Nine Characteristics of the Facilitative Leadership Difference


We seek primarily to shift the thinking of our readers from facilitation (as a noun or a static way of being) to facilitating (as a verb or a dynamic way of doing)—truly making it easier for meeting participants to make more informed decisions. Facilitating is based on speaking with people rather than at them. Facilitating is about creating an environment that is conducive to productivity and breakthrough. Facilitating is about stimulating and inspiring people. Facilitating amplifies the DNA of the modern leader.

Facilitative Style, Key to Effective Leadership

Facilitative Style, Key to Effective Leadership

We seek to build understanding around the role of facilitating—getting participants to understand . . .

  • how to think about group decision-making
  • skills such as clear speaking, precise questioning, keen observing, and active listening
  • the criticality of being content-neutral; passionate about results, yet unbiased about path
  • the importance of the holarchy (ie, organizational goal alignment)
  • the role (of facilitator) is not the person, rather a temporary position (like a referee)

We aspire to develop a working understanding among our readers about the differences and challenges of becoming a facilitative leader that extend beyond those of a modern leader. Some of the differences are shown in the table that follows. Modern leaders exhibit traits that head in the right direction, compared to traditional or historic leaders, but further shift is still required to be truly facilitative so that their teams and groups realize the full potential of consensus, commitment, and ownership.

Characteristics of the Facilitative Leadership Difference

Modern Leaders

Facilitative Leaders

  • Are receptive to change
  • Focus on continuous improvement of both results and the method used to obtain them
  • Communicate and receive feedback
  • Can also structure activities to ensure that participants evaluate them and each other
  • Effective interpersonal skills
  • More than people savvy, they are group focused

  • Believe that staff work for them
  • Work to exceed the expectations of all stakeholders, including their staff
  • Have meeting management skills
  • Can also use groups to build complex deliverables and structure any type of conversation with collaboration
  • Involved in directing tasks
  • Strive to build collaborative decisions based on staff input
  • Remain accountable for results
  • Leads groups whose members are highly skilled and also accountable for outcomes
  • Value teamwork and collaboration
  • Focus on providing structures that support 
superior performance
  • Work to meet the expectation of management
  • Operate without status or rank consciousness

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 SolutionImprove 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.

Change or Die—“It is NOT the strongest of the species that survives . . .


“It is NOT the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

—Charles Darwin

Our approach to meetings and workshops reflect the necessity to change. In fact, most people do not even change their minds—rather, they make a new decision based on new information. Sometimes the things they look at change as well.

Every morning in Africa, 
a gazelle wakes up.

It knows it must run faster 
than the fastest lion

or it will be killed.

 Every morning a lion wakes up.

It knows it must outrun 
the slowest gazelle

or it will starve to death.

 It doesn’t matter whether 
you are a lion or a gazelle . . .

when the sun comes up, 
you’d better be running.

Source: Unknown

Change is stimulated by information that supports decision-making. Groups make higher quality decisions than the smartest person in the group because groups create more options. Groups or individuals presented with more options are known to make higher quality decisions.

An ever-changing world

An ever-changing world

Most change is incremental or evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Yet, by harnessing one degree Fahrenheit, steam power ushered in the industrial revolution. Modern revolution is both digital and dynamic, it is still taking form—it is “in-formation”. With anything that remains “in-formation”, change is inevitable, only growth is optional.

The Transforming 
Workplace

Facing many consecutive days of back-to-back meetings, participants value the importance of well-run meetings. Traditionally, leaders have chaired meetings and exerted control over decision-making. As the workplace has transformed, and knowledge workers operate within a matrix of networks, modern leadership has also changed.

Instead of dealing mostly with individuals (conversations or dyads), modern leaders work more frequently with people in groups (meetings). Instead of supervising hours of workload, they help their teams become self-managing. Instead of directing tasks, they motivate people to achieve results. Above all, they stay focused on aligning team activity with organizational goals, from the boardroom to the boiler room.

The Transforming Workplace

FROM

TO

  • Geographically close
  • Geographically scattered
  • Homogenous staff groupings
  • Diverse skill sets
  • Leaders know the work
  • Leaders may not know the work
  • Lifelong expectations
  • Expectations of autonomy
  • Nine to five
  • Twenty-four/ seven
  • Stable departments
  • Shifting networks of teams
  • Task orientation
  • Goal orientation
  • Vertical hierarchies
  • Lateral matrices

Over the following year, this blog will provide insight into modern, facilitative leadership—the type you need to be successful in toady’s ever-changing marketplace.

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 SolutionImprove 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.

Anger is Only One Letter Short of the Word “Danger”


To deal with anger, first understand that anger is as normal as any other emotion. We expect or want things to be different or better. Most people direct their anger at those who have some control over them. Anger can be healthy and is different from hostility, which is not healthy. Anger is often used to hide other feelings such as hurt or disappointment. Learn how to deal with anger in others and in yourself. The term ‘anger’ is only one ‘d’ short of the term ‘danger.’

Anger Can Become Danger

Anger Can Become Danger

In dealing with anger in others:

  • Acknowledge and affirm the participant’s beliefs.
  • Anger is seldom directed at you personally. You are just convenient.
  • Encourage the participant to talk about their anger. This helps to diffuse the anger.
  • If you have contributed to the anger, let the participant vent before trying to explain or apologize.
  • Use non-judgmental, active listening. This lets the participant know that you care. Never get hooked yourself.

In dealing with your own anger:

  • Acknowledge and accept the anger. Do not deny it or it will resurface at the wrong time.
  • Deal with the problem that caused the anger and the anger itself separately. Do not make decisions when your anger is in control.
  • Express your anger when it is safe and appropriate. Find safe outlets. Sometimes it even passes without having to express it.
  • In a meeting or workshop, take a break, take a walk, verbalize calmly, and reprogram yourself.
  • Recognize the cause of the anger and identify the other emotions you are feeling.

Remember that anger can be modified and danger avoided.

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.

Mother Teresa’s Holiday Message of Prescribed Actions and Behaviours


A large portion of the world celebrates holidays this time of the year. Since one traditional greeting in the English language is “Merry Christmas”, it begs the question, HOW. While the thought may be genuine, and the words rich with historical precedence, HOW DOES a facilitator go about making today (and tomorrow) merry? The solution begins with attitude, and letting go of our own egos will positively impact attitudes that shape our behavior.

How do you do that? Follow the sage advice of Mother Teresa in her sentiments below and you will find it a lot easier. After all, she facilitated nourishment for thousands of “participants” by simply being of service.

Removing the Weight of the World

Removing the Weight of the World

Treat today as if you won’t exist tomorrow. 
People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;

Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;

Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;

Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;

Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;

Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, there may be jealousy;

Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;

Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;

Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;

It was never between you and them anyway.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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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