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.

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.

6 Potent Responses to Facilitating Collaborative Behavior During Conflict


External Conflict

Conflict in your group is natural and not necessarily bad when properly managed. You must channel conflict into productivity. Managed well, conflict leads to expanded information exchange, surfaced rationales, more options, and better group decisions that enable change. Managed poorly, conflict destroys. Properly managed, conflict leads to positive transformation. If left festering in the hallways, conflict leads to chaos.

Conflict provides one of the best reasons for justifying the time and expense of a face-to-face meeting because it cannot be properly resolved with mail, attachments, and messaging. Society places negative values on conflict at home and at school. We are not taught collaborative problem solving skills. We will look at the likely external sources of conflict, barriers you will encounter, and responses that are proven effective.

External Conflict

External Conflict

Recognizing Conflict

Recognize that conflict exists particularly when you sense resistance from the group. If your intuition tells you that something is not right, you would be wise to listen to the symptoms:

  • Challenges and attacks
  • Silence and withdrawal
  • Emergence of people with problems
  • Tardiness and punctuality problems
  • Sabotage attempts at the project, process, or facilitator

Sources of Conflict

Primary sources of conflict in a typical workshop include the following, but keep in mind that the two biggest predictors are tenure (ie, how long somebody has been around) and when their jobs, titles, or reporting situation is at risk or being changed:

  • Competition—feeling out of control or the need to control
  • Fears—participant fears as well as facilitator fears
  • Habits—used to disagreeing or arguing, cultural
  • Listening filters—age, background
  • Misinformation—rumors, especially with change
  • Participants’ problems—out of control, unable to excel or bond
  • Poorly defined objectives—misunderstanding of expectations
  • Semantics—understanding of words and intent
  • Situations—reengineering, reorganizations, automating jobs
  • Thinking styles—vertical/ horizontal
  • Ways participants view others—biases, prejudices

Barriers

The following barriers inhibit your ability to manage conflict:

  • Ability or willingness to listen—yours and theirs
  • Fears—yours and theirs
  • Group norms—culture such as “we don’t discuss that here”
  • Image—inability to save face
  • Lack of skill—a weak facilitator
  • Learned responses—our past is hard to unlearn
  • Time—consensus is seldom achieved quickly
  • Vulnerability—real or perceived threats                                                                

Your Responses

How do you respond to manage conflict? To effectively facilitate a conflict situation, you must keep conflict constructive and . . .

  1. Understand anger—dealing with yours and theirs.
  2. Know how to communicate acceptance—to promote open communications.
  3. Understand consensus—it is not compromise.
  4. Prepare properly—know if it is coming.
  5. Build a tool kit (see FAST Facilitative Leadership Tools for immediate help and develop a hip pocket set of tools in preparation for the unexpected)—build teams and diffuse problems.
  6. Challenge—when people raise objectives, discover the cause of the objection. With active listening and proper leadership, the objection can be converted into criterion. What causes the objection and what is the unit of measurement of the cause?

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.

Four Important Steps Toward Building a Meeting Agenda Owned By Participants


Purpose

This approach builds the meeting purpose, scope, session (ie, meeting or workshop) deliverables, simple agenda, and potential participants.

Building an Agenda

Building an Agenda

Method

Do the following:

  1. Write down your deliverable and strive to get examples! Deliverables illustrate the required documentation and needed information. What are we producing? Show participants examples if you are building a model. Align with the enterprise and business unit strategic plans to help reconcile tradeoffs in your decision-making process.
  2. Quantify impact from the meeting on the program and articulate the project or meeting scope. Identify the level of detail desired, the type of session (planning, problem solving, design, etc.), and what to accomplish in the workshop. Understand what might be excluded (due to scope); or what the purpose and scope are NOT.
  3. Identify and compose the simple steps that enable you to organize the known information,identify the missing information, and produce the deliverablesidentifiedpreviously. Rely on your organization’s methodology or life cycle. The best sources for your draft method are (in order of preference):
    • Proprietary or in-house life cycle
    • Team charter, prior work, or FAST cookbook agendas
    • Experience—look at past successful workshops (or CoP; ie. community of practice), ask, “What questions need to be answered to satisfy the purpose of the workshop?” Consider the Single-Question approach.
    • Talk to the project manager, technical partner (ie, the methodologist), or other organizational experts.
    • Go to a library or bookstore but do NOT rely on Google®.

For Lean or Agile also consider

  • Existing enterprise systems or processes (life cycle)
  • Architecture infrastructure (consider drafting a baseline architectural pattern)
  • Scoping/ phasing (what high level information is known)
  • Consider existing process models, high level ERD, and actors’ security/ policy

The three steps in the method above yield a DRAFT simple agenda; 
ie, simple meeting or workshop agenda.

NOTE: Identify the known information at the start of the proposed workshop. Some information was probably built before this workshop. It may be output from prior workshops. It may be planning or scope documents. This information should only be reviewed and not built from scratch, if acceptable.

  1. Identify the most appropriate participants. Identify what knowledge or expertise each needs to bring to the workshop. Determine how much of the agenda the participants understand and can reasonably complete in a group environment. Identify what issues they have—do they need team building or creativity or some management of behavior?   

Find someone who will provide resistance at the meeting so that you can learn to anticipate challenges that will develop. You may not want to avoid the issues because they need to surface; however, you do not want to be surprised or caught off guard.

Walk through the steps to see if you can produce the desired results with the proposed participants. Do the steps allow the group to build on prior work without jumping around? Are the steps logical? Will the deliverables be comprehensive?

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.

Why Facilitators View Internal Conflict as Both Challenge and Opportunity


Don’t Run

A facilitator sees conflict in a workshop coming from the group and coming from within. Internal and external conflict reflect emotions that, when harnessed, enable innovative change. A facilitator must understand and manage conflict. We must first understand our own internal conflict so that we are prepared to serve others.

Internal Conflict

Internal conflict is fear. All people have fears. When we allow these fears to control us, we lose our ability to perform. The first step is to understand our fears. Once we do, then we can control them. Fears never go away—you simply learn to control fears. Below are some typical facilitator fears.

Internal Conflict

Internal Conflict

Once you identify your personal fears, you can find ways to make them work to your advantage. It gives you an edge. Remember that the butterflies in your stomach will always be there. You don’t want to remove them. You want to teach them to fly in formation.

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.

Effective Groups Attain Organizational Goals and Satisfy Individual Needs


The following are characteristics of group effectiveness. Continue to test them against your own experience and let us know when you identify some other type of synergy that describes an effective group with whom you are working. The following is listed in alpha-sort and not order of importance or chronology.

  1. Conflict is healthy and the reasons for differing views are made evident.
  2. Critique and challenges are kept at a professional level and avoid personal attack.
  3. Discussions are vibrant, everyone participates according to their natural inclination and style, and group stays focused on the scope at hand.
  4. Discussions  may be characterized by:
    Teamwork and Group Effectiveness

    Teamwork and Group Effectiveness

    1. Completeness
    2. Preciseness
    3. Relevance
    4. Timeliness
    5. Verifiability
  5. Displays cohesiveness shown by activity and cooperative interaction among participants.
  6. Group is sufficiently skilled to plan, analyze, and design around the problem or opportunity.
  7. Look backs, after action reviews, or other reviews of group performance generate healthy learnings that improve future performance.
  8. Meeting deliverables and project objectives are understood and valued.
  9. Operates under deadlines and is compelled by a sense of urgency.
  10. Participants are comfortable expressing a minority view and can express confidence or doubts about future outcomes.
  11. Participants are willing and able to listen, challenge, and learn.
  12. Roles, responsibilities, and next steps are clear and acceptable to all participants.
  13. The facilitator establishes balance between inquiry and advocacy.
  14. The facilitator maintains vigilant neutrality and avoids their personal thoughts about content, remaining focused on context and group support.
  15. The facilitator or session leader deploys various and appropriate tools that lead to consensual understanding and acceptance.
  16. There is a small delta or variance between what is said in private and how it is expressed in public, outside the meeting or workshop.
  17. Typically ranges from five to nine people, large enough to accomplish but not too large to be disgraceful.

The spectrum of decision making ranges from autocratic leadership to group autonomy. Let us know what you have discovered about group performance and 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.

Three New FAST Tips to Help You Before, During, and After Your Meetings


Materials not found in prior FAST Reference Manuals that can augment your own Facilitator’s Handbook are provided below. If you have not compiled your personal handbook or archive folder, do so now. Consider keeping prior annotated agendas, a master glossary, handouts and slides, and evaluation summaries. Continuously improve your annotated agendas and emphasize detailed support for the steps you frequently facilitate in workshops and meetings; such as brainstorming, requirements gathering, decision making, prioritization, and so on. Reflect on the organizational culture as to when a certain tools works best, or fails. Your handbook ought be dynamic, useful, and powerful.

Before Meetings

As part of your pre-read, or selectively used to support your meeting ground rules, here are some specific Participant Behavior guidelines you may want to use (listed alphabetically):

  • Caution with voice inflections that may indicate disdain or an otherwise counterproductive attitude
  • Commit to decisions that are made
  • Let each person speak without interruption
  • Share in accepting post-meeting assignments
  • Stay on topic and agenda, begin and end on time
  • Stay until the end of the meeting and stay in the room
  • Welcome conflict but separate issues from personalities

During Meetings

Especially when time constrained, encourage participants to share their message as if they were delivering results to someone’s voicemail   An alternative way for some to visualize this mandate encourages responses that would fit on a single 4 * 6 notecard. Have them use the notecard as the scripting for the voicemail, capturing the main points. Encourage them to get to the answer or main point with the second sentence.

After Meetings

Meeting Evaluation Tool

Meeting Evaluation Tool

Our curriculum shares some variants of a Plus-Delta and a more robust annotated evaluation template that assesses the effectiveness of the meeting and your own performance. An approach that fits between the two is shown below. It provides numerical feedback but relies on three questions and optional, anecdotal feedback. The questions shown are solid, but also illustrative. Do not hesitate to substitute questions that more valuable for you, relying on a similar format. With this format, you can print two per sheet, reducing the ‘visual burden’ on your participants as well.

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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