Here is a Facilitator Toolbox for Building Team Charters and Project Plans


You can create additional time for yourself by facilitating team members to build their own activities and support requirements to help you reach your project objectives.  Modern leaders facilitate the development of consensually owned team charters, including work breakdown structure (WBS).  Project Tools (below in italics) will help you build robust team charters and projects plans. For your benefit, each link takes you to more detailed explanations supported by a specific method and the activities to deliver up your desired output.

Team Charter

Projects Intended For Results

Projects Intended For Results

Facilitative tools to generate the step-by-step deliverables for most team charters include:

  1. Business case, project purpose, or opportunity statement: Purpose Is To . . . So That
  2. Project scope or boundaries: Is Not/ Is  (alternatively—Context Diagram Workshop, found in the FAST Professional Facilitator Reference Manual)
  3. Triple Constraints (ie; time, cost, and scope/quality): Flexibility Matrix
  4. Success criteria: SMART Criteria/ Categorizing (through common purpose)
  5. Opportunity assessment: Situation Analysis (FAST Professional proprietary and quantitative SWOT analysis)
  6. Project plan activities (high-level): Roles and Responsibilities (eg, RASI)
  7. Team selection: Interviewing Controls/ Managing Expectations

Project Plan

The work breakdown structure follows a facilitative approach that supports a consensually agreed upon plan of action:

  1. Target audience/ other affected stakeholders: Brainstorming
  2. WBS (work breakdown structure):
    Moving from WHAT (ie, abstract) to HOW (ie, concrete)
  3. Detailed measure of success:  Success Measures
  4. Project plan activities (detailed-level):
    Roles and Responsibilities
  5. Budget, timeline, and resource alignment: Alignment
  6. Stage gates and milestones: After Action Review
  7. Risk assessment and guidelines:
    Project Risk Assessment
  8. Communications Plan: Guardian of Change
  9. Open issues management: Parking Lot Management
  10. Issue escalation procedure: Issue Log

Reply with any questions you might have by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiatives, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need to lead more effective groups, teams, and meetings.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. 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 numerous 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.

Seven Tips for Improving Your Participation and Contributions During Meetings


An unfacilitated meeting can be led (or misled) from any chair in the room. If you are the meeting host, or even participating in someone else’s meeting, here are seven quick tips to ensure that you add optimal value.

Improving Meeting Participation

Improving Meeting Participation

  1. If it is your meeting, ask a facilitator to lead the group through major decision-making, prioritization, and solution finding activities. Having a facilitator enables you to participate fully and gives the responsibility for policing the process to a neutral person.
  2. Strive to organize your thoughts before speaking. Then express your idea simply, logically, and concisely. People are more receptive to ideas they understand. Long, complex explanations work against you.  Some meeting participants have been known to make great contributions.  Some meeting participants have been known to make long contributions.  Rarely will you witness a great, long contribution.
  3. Respect others, knowing that there is usually more than one right answer. Different views force us to develop new ideas and more ideas equates to higher quality decisions.  The best way to win a debate is to fully understand the other party’s position, so listen carefully.  When you talk, you are repeating something you already know.  When you listen, you learn something new.
  4. Use encouraging and positive comments during your meeting. Negative comments create defensive reactions that distract from business goals.  There is no need to play favorites or even cheer a particular person’s contributions, but speak positively about the overall value and velocity of everyone’s contributions.
  5. Use structured activities that lead to solid outputs and deliverables. Methodological tools ensure equitable participation and systematic progress toward results that can be documented.  If it is not documented, then it did not happen.  Do NOT rely on informal, unstructured discussion.  Discussion, percussion, and concussion are all related—to the headache of uncertainty about “What actually happened in that meeting?”.
  6. Focus on one issue at a time and close it down before moving on. Most groups can solve any problem if you maintain focus on the appropriate question.  However, getting a group of people to focus at the same remains the biggest challenge during any meeting.  Avoid war stories and unrelated issues.  Past experience is no guarantee of the future state.  Out of scope discussions are a waste of time, distract the desired focus, and mislead others. The cause of most project failures is scope creep, and the same problem applies to meetings, especially when they are unstructured.
  7. Rescue wayward meetings by challenging participants to think clearly.  Unclear speaking and writing is indicative of unclear thinking.  Teach them how to think, and always build consensus around WHY something is important, before discussing WHAT the options are, followed by HOW we should proceed.

Reply with any questions you might have by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiatives, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need to lead more effective groups, teams, and meetings.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. 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 numerous 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

How to Build Your Meeting Agenda to Deliver the Output You Need


To design a new meeting or workshop agenda that will effectively lead a group to its deliverable, use the eleven steps detailed below.  Following them will increase your meeting success.  Before we begin, let us remember the definition of a solid, structured meeting (eg, FAST) agenda:

Agenda Defined

Simple Meeting or Workshop Agenda

Simple Meeting or Workshop Agenda

An agenda is a series of steps that structure a group discussion throughout a meeting or workshop.  The FAST technique provides field-tested agendas that work effectively to accelerate information gathering and improve decision-making methods.  A robust and  effective agenda will enable you . . .

  • . . . the facilitator (ie, the session leader) to lead the discussion, with . . .
  • Subject matter experts (who are experts about content but NOT experts about context or meeting technique), who build consensual understanding using evidence-based information.
  • That makes the next steps clear (ie, the meeting output or deliverable including for example, decision-making or prioritization), thus
  • Enabling other stakeholders (ie, project team) to use the information and decisions to accelerate and advance project objectives and organizational goals.

The steps to create a new meeting or workshop agenda include the following:

  1. Identify the purpose, scope, and deliverables of the meeting—what are you building and what level of detail is required?
  2. Codify the deliverables—what is the specific content for the output of the workshop, what is the optimal sequence for gathering it, and who will use it after the meeting is complete? Better stated, “What does done look like?”
  3. Draft your likely steps—compose a series of steps from experience or analytical methods that would be used by other experts to make this decision, solve this problem, or develop the required information and consensual view.
    • Consider internal life-cycle methods, cultural expectations, and what other projects have used in the past within your organization.
    • Study the FAST curriculum and consider its pre-built planning, analysis, and design workshops with agendas that have been proven to work for others in the past.
    • Do some research and find out what others are doing; competitors, competitive industries, competitive alternatives, and the most current academic approaches.
    • Talk to others, especially project team members and business community subject matter experts to determine some of the major components they would include in a simple agenda.
    • Send us a sample for analysis and feedback if you are a graduate of the FAST Professional curriculum.
  4. Review steps for logical flow—walk through the steps to confirm they will produce the desired outputs.
  5. Identify likely meeting participants—determine the most likely participants and identify their level of understanding about the business issues and the method you have drafted for them to develop the information during your agenda steps.
  6. Identify any agenda steps that the participants cannot complete—modify or eliminate the steps that your specific participants may not understand, will not value, or are inappropriate for their level of experience.
  7. Identify what information is needed to fill the gaps from step number six above, and determine how to get this additional information (eg, off-line)—what information or analysis is required to substitute for the missing information identified in step number six above that your meeting participants cannot provide?
  8. Detail the final agenda steps to capture required information for the open issues—build the appropriate activities to produce the information without making the participants perform unnecessary activities (eg, do NOT do team building if they already function together properly).
  9. Review—confirm steps number one and two above and then carefully review the detailed activities with stakeholders to confirm that they satisfy the purpose and provide the needed information without over challenging or intimidating your participants.
  10. Perform a walk-through, including documentation format or templates, with other business experts, executive sponsor, and project team members.
  11. Refine—make any changes identified in the walk-through and begin to build out your annotated agenda as suggested by the FAST curriculum.

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

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. 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 numerous 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.

To Become a More Humane Human, Understand the WHY Behind WHAT People Saying


Road Rage.  Have you been irritated by someone else’s driving?  Of course, we all have.  Today I realized however that I am likely guilty of doing the precise thing that others have done to piss me off.  However, when I did it, there was justification—of course.  When they did the same thing however, they were wrong, dumb, stupid, and worthy of decapitation.  So what’s the difference?

Have you ever made a right turn in an automobile very slowly, because your grandma was in the back seat, or you didn’t want the pie to spill, or the house number you were seeking was right around the corner?  Imagine so.  But when someone makes the turn incredibly slowly in front of you, they are being rude and inconsiderate, correct?  So what’s the difference?

Understand the WHY Behind the WHAT

Understand the WHY Behind the WHAT

The difference evidences itself when you seek to understand WHY.  Chances are, the person that upset you had good reason in their own mind, and was not attempting to be intentionally inconsiderate.  They were not malicious at all.  They simply had their own reasons.

We should always stay mindful of the phrase in St Francis’ Peace Prayer—Seek to understand, rather than being understood.  The Dalai Lama also has a nice way of expressing similar sentiment when he states (paraphrased)—“When you speak, you are saying something you already know.  When you listen, you may learn something new.”

As facilitators, we cannot afford to let down our guard.  Keep the ego in the hallway.  Challenge meeting and workshop participants to justify their positions by explaining WHY they are making a particular claim.  Chances are, we will discover something new.  By active listening through the reflection and confirmation of their rationale, we can begin to build consensus.

Would it bother you if I turned slowly around a corner if you already knew that I had an infirmed occupant or something that might spill?  I imagine not, as you would likely have some compassion, not because you liked WHAT I was doing, but because you understood WHY I was doing it.

To build consensus, make sure everyone understands WHY claims are being made.  They likely hear what the other person said (or did), but since it upsets them, they fail to understand nor strive to understand WHY.  That’s your job as facilitator.  Build consensus around WHY since most WHAT everyone believes is not simply black or white, rather it is conditional.  It’s your job to get the group to understand under what conditions someone’s erratic thoughts or behavior may in fact echo the same thing you would do if you were in their shoes.

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

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. 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 numerous 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 Free Your Data from a Single Cell and Make Your Deliverables More Robust


In our prior posting, we learned that one key to facilitating effective analysis mandates the facilitator to ask open-ended questions, not simple, close-ended (ie, yes or no) confirmations.  For example, and pardon the simplicity, do not ask “Does the sport of curling involve any sweat?”  Someone will make a compelling argument that it does, albeit minimal perhaps.  The better question, simply re-phrased:  “To what extent does the sport of curling involve sweat? (a lot, little, or somewhere in between)”.

When building a roles and responsibilities matrix for example, the classic approach identifies who is going to be ‘Responsible’ for some apportioned activity or assignment and the appropriate cell is given a large, red “R”.  At minimum you might ask four questions, such as:

  1. What role will be responsible for this assignment? (eg, Business Analyst)
  2. At what estimated point in time will it be completed? (eg, date specific)
  3. How much financial resource will be required to complete it? (eg, $,$$$)
  4. What is the estimated FTE required to bring it to completion? (FTE = full time equivalent, such as 0.25 which is one person, full-time, for three months)
Power of the Cell

Power of the Cell

You can amplify this approach even further by splitting your four cells into sixteen.  See the picture above.  We can now ask, generate, and record sixteen pieces of information on a large Post-It® for each assignment.  Note how we take the four basic criteria above and expand them into four additional details (for illustrative purposes only):

  1. What role will be responsible for this assignment? (eg, RASI Chart)
    1. What role is ultimately being held Accountable and paying for this initiative? (eg, EVP)
    2. What role will be Responsible for this assignment? (eg, Business Analyst)
    3. What roles will be Supporting this assignment? (eg, Project Manager)
    4. What roles need to be Informed about this assignment? (eg, Customer)
  2. At what estimated point in time will it be completed? (eg, date specific)
    1. When does concerted effort begin? (eg, date specific)
    2. What is the projected half-way point? (eg, date specific)
    3. At what estimated point in time will it be completed? (eg, date specific)
    4. When will the effort be reviewed such as Retrospective or Look Back? (eg, date specific)
  3. How much financial resource will be required to complete it? (eg, $,$$$)
    1. What are the estimated research costs? (eg, $,$$$)
    2. What are the estimated acquisition costs? (eg, $,$$$)
    3. What are the estimated operational costs? (eg, $,$$$)
    4. What are the estimated termination costs? (eg, $,$$$)
  4. What is the estimated FTE required to bring it to completion? (FTE = full time equivalent, such as 0.25 which is one person, full-time, for three months)
    1. What is the maximum number of people required at once? (eg, Quantity)
    2. What special subject matter experts are required? (eg, Title[s])
    3. What is the estimated FTE required to bring it to completion? (eg, FTE)
    4. Codify any special issues not described above. (narrative, perhaps coded)

Having left a meeting with the amount of detail described above is comforting, but knowing that it was consensually built and is now owned by the meeting participants is reassuring.  When applied to a project plan, using questions similar to the ones shown above, you will deliver up a more detailed GANTT chart than most people build in their cubicles alone.  Hand this off to an intern who claims to be “expert” with Microsoft Project Manager® and tell them to bring you back a fully resource allocated project plan so that you can go on to your next meeting.

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

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. 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 numerous 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 Voting Leads to Bigger Numbers but Lower Quality Decisions


Western society, and to an increasing amount, the rest of the world, depends on the voting method of decision-making.  Various levels of government including federal, state, and local elections rely on plurality voting, whereby one person equals one vote.   While some will argue that a benevolent autocrat provides a fairer form of governance, most democracies rely on a multi-level system for its checks and balances.  For example, tripartite arrangements normally allow separate voting for the legislative, executive, and judicial branches.  Democracies frequently refer to this method as “Plurality Voting.”

Voting Leads to Winners and Losers

Voting Leads to Winners and Losers

There are other methods of voting, and arguably none of them are as effective as consensus based decision-making.  Note for example . . .

Approval Voting

Method:  Voters are provided one vote for each option they deem acceptable.

Examples:  Numerous not-for-profit organizations use Approval Voting to select their board of directors and officers.

Results:  The approach does little to distinguish between acceptable options and outstanding options.  Results have been known to be highly erratic.

Borda Count

Method:  Voters ordinate all options from top to bottom, where more is better.  With ten options, the best is assigned a value of ten while the least favorite is assigned a value of one.  The highest score wins.

Examples:  The method used by the Associated Press for its college football and basketball rankings.

Results:  The favorite method of promoters for voting, unfortunately does little to help distinguish the mid-range and lower tier options.  As voters know less or become more ambivalent (eg, fourth versus fifth), final tallies can become quite skewed.

Cumulative Voting

Method:  Voters are assigned a batch of votes (ie, units of value).  They distribute them across the options as they see fit.  With a batch of ten votes for example, you may assign seven votes to your favorite and three to your second favorite.

Examples:  This method is used in some legal jurisdictions in Alabama and Texas, and in some corporate board rooms.

Results:  There are bound to be winners and losers—much gaming is involved when, for example, your second favorite is more likely to be the victor, yet for each unit assigned to your second choice, reduces the chances of your first choice being selected.  Reportedly, many “second favorites” win with this method (see the Abilene Paradox).

Electoral College

Method:  Winners of the presidential election in each state get all of the pre-assigned electoral votes (equal to the number of seats in Congress), regardless of the margin of victory.

Examples:  Only in America, where most states assign their marginal winners, all of their electoral votes.

Results:  Since it is possible to “win” the popular vote but “lose” the election, some have suggested that the Supreme Court of America will rule on its legality.  Look at the Gore versus Bush election in 2000.

Instant Runoff

Method:  Voters rank their options and if the top pick does not generate a simple majority (ie, greater than 50 percent), the option with the fewest votes is dropped, and members vote again until a winner emerges.

Examples:  Jurisdictions worldwide, from Australia to San Francisco rely on this method.

Results:  While arguable a stronger method than simple “Plurality Voting”, mathematical models have shown that sub-optimal (ie, initially secondary or tertiary options) options rise faster than the primary option and frequently “win”.

Our FAST alumni have experienced the weakness of voting with the Goethe demonstration during class.  Unlike consensus building that yields a win-win result, voting represents bigger numbers, not better decisions.  Plus, there is always a loser.

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

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. 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 numerous 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 Attitude of Gratitude Makes for a More Powerful Facilitation Event


The evidence is overwhelming—those who have more gratitude are happier individuals.  Although you won’t hear the term ‘happy’ very frequently in one of our meetings or workshops (because the word is both subjective and fuzzy), it seemed appropriate as people of the United States are celebrating their Thanksgiving period to provide a quick reflection.

Few, if any, would argue that gratitude is not a positive attitude.  Positive attitudes provide leading indication for the opportunity to galvanize consensus.  Therefore, groups who have more gratitude are more likely to agree.

Of interest are the following trend lines extracted from Google’s Ngram.  As the use of the term ‘mandate’ has increased in recent decades, the use of the term ‘gratitude’ has decreased.  While the relationship does not prove that people have less gratitude today than in the past, it does suggest that frequency of the term and reference to its positive meaning has been on the decline.

Mandata vs Gratitude

Mandate vs Gratitude

Although use of the ‘facilitation’ in a business sense is relatively new (over the past few decades), since we started teaching facilitation (1985), there has been a steady and positive slope increase in the use of gratitude.  Not coincidentally, we would argue.

Gratitude vs. Facilitation

Gratitude vs Facilitation

Implications?  Get your group to be more thankful for what they have, rather than dwelling on what they do not have.  Use what they have (eg, skills, strengths, etc.) to focus on WHAT they could do to further extend what gives them gratitude.

You will benefit personally as well.  Harvard Medical School reports that “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” (emphasis is ours)

People in the United States take so much for granted, it can make outsiders incredulous.  Perhaps less than one percent of the people on this planet have some money in the bank, a few coins in their purse, a stocked refrigerator at home, the ability to read, at least one parent who remains alive, the skill to read, and the liberty to attend the place of worship at their choosing.

If you do, if your meeting participants do, then we suggest that you might begin your meeting or workshop by first stressing the gratitude to have the opportunity to make things better for your business and its stakeholders.  Most people are not so fortunate.

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

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. 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 numerous 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.

Your Simple Agenda Should NOT Include Verbs, Use the Deliverable for Each Step


Do you want more meetings?  Of course not.  Nobody wants more meetings and yet many of us find ourselves in meetings a few dozen hours per week (or more).  Why do we meet so frequently since seldom do we actually remove stuff from our “To-Do” list during a meeting?  On the contrary, each meeting normally leads to more work.

Likewise, your meeting participants do not want any more work, and verbs are work.  We perform verbs so that our activities yield results, frequently called objects (hence the term objective), also known as nouns.

Terms like “identify” and “define” add no value to a simple agenda, except to the facilitator who needs to lead the method for delivering up results at the end of each agenda step.  Save the verbs for yourself.  Put them on your annotated agenda (ie, play script for you only), but spare your participants of the need for more work.  Most participants seek less work, not more.

Likewise, a meeting deliverable should not include verbs, again it should be viewed as an object.  We typically organize ourselves and activities around nouns, not verbs.  We all perform the same verbs, such as Plan>Acquire>Operate>Control or Plan>Do>Check>Act (Deming).  Take a look at our business organizations.  People are organized around things, such as treasury (Finance), legal issues (Legal), human capital (Human Resources), products (Product Management), customers (Sales and Marketing), etc.  Most everyone in those various departments are performing the same verbs, they are simply adding value to a different resource or object.

Therefore, get your participants focused on “what DONE looks like.”  Begin with the meeting deliverable, and the describe the object you have in your hands when a successful meeting is complete.  Do the same for each step in your agenda, so that everyone stays focused on the end in mind.  Embrace the modifications shown below in your simple agenda, and put the verb stuff in your annotated agenda along with greater detail about your break-out sessions, CEOs (ie, Chief Easel Officer), questions for them to answer, and your method(s) of analysis that will build consensual understanding and agreement.

An Improved Simple Agenda

An Improved Simple Agenda

Most people include verbs (see example on the left) to remind them what to do as facilitator.  Most of the instructions are devoid of the painstaking detail required to keep groups at a high performance level.  If, as a participant, you have a high level of confidence that your facilitator knows what they are doing, most assuredly you would rather participate with the agenda on the right because it’s simple and each step denotes chunks of progress—objects that have been created, not work that is forthcoming.

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

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. 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 numerous 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.

What is Facilitative Leadership and How Do You Use It to be More Effective?


Begin by discretely understanding the two terms:  ‘facilitative’ and ‘leadership’.  Roughly speaking, the root for the term ‘facilitative’ means “to make easy”.  Clearly, the role of a modern leader primarily relies on making it easier for the people you are leading to succeed.  Leadership however begins with line of sight, and knowing where you are going.  A leader needs to know the destination, but focus on the journey.  For office meetings, a leader needs to know what done looks like, in other words, what is the destination?  Let us take a closer look, beginning with leadership.

What is Facilitative Leadership?

What is Facilitative Leadership?

The world’s worst facilitator can remain effective when they know where they are going (and leading the team) will improve the quality of life of its participants.  Participants who are vested in the output of a meeting will help a poor facilitator, because they are highly dependent on the results.  In fact, leadership trumps facilitation.

But modern leaders can be doubly impactful when they combine facilitative style and mannerisms with their line of sight.  Some of the style issues include:

  • Showing up for meetings prepared and that includes having properly coached and prepared the participants so that the meeting can take off running. At minimum being able to clearly articulate the meeting purpose, scope, deliverable, and agenda.
  • Constantly removing potential distractions during the meeting. Meetings fail for one of three reasons:
    1. They contain the wrong people
    2. The people attending are incapable or incompetent
    3. The group as a whole does not know how to succeed in a meeting
  • Practice will show the third reason reason being most prevalent, which is why they need a facilitative leader in the first place. They need someone who knows the method that will lead to success, rather than someone with answers.
  • Substance over style, speaking with clarity when required (ie, aspiring toward rhetorical precision). Realizing however that the role is primarily geared toward listening rather than preaching.
  • Constantly observing the participants’ and body language, or using a roll call method to further include virtual participants who may be dialing in to the meeting.
  • Having well built questions that avoid vagueness and ambiguity. Understanding that the meeting deliverable (call it ‘Y’) is a function of many details (call them ‘X’ for the major issues and ‘x’ for the minor points).  Therefore, Y is a function of many Xxes.
  • Challenging participants to make their thinking visible. Understanding that people think about symptoms, not causes.  For example, they may not want a landfill in their neighborhood because it stinks, but prevailing wind must be surfaced as a major causal element to consider for optimal placement of a new landfill.  Again, people may find a particular food ‘spicy-hot’ but they are not thinking about Scoville Units.
  • Avoiding judgment, bot to the positive and the negative. Most meeting leaders will not openly state that someone’s idea ‘sucks’ but research shows that the groups is negatively impacted the same way when the leader states and an idea is a “great idea” (in other words, no cheerleading).
  • Likewise, a facilitative leader avoids using the first person singular, especially the word “I” and puts the focus on the participants “you” or the integral “us”.
  • Amplifying neutrality by understanding there is more than one right answer and quality decision making is sensitive to the conditions under which one solution may or may not be better than an alternative.
  • Administering to an appropriate methodology, a long word for agenda. The agenda represents the method or how the leader will get the team from the introduction to the wrap in a consensual and expeditious manner.
  • Staying conscious about all of the above at once, while carefully administering and adjusting to a method replete with appropriate tools to get more done faster. Since many people are naturally facilitative leaders, but remain ineffective in meetings, our training focuses on the tools and method, and instructs on HOW TO lead a successful meeting, from planning through analysis through design.

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

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. 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 numerous 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 Quick, 5-Minute Paradigm Exercise to Challenge Participants’ Group Think


We encourage professional facilitators to carry a tool box, and include some intervention devices when they need to shake up their participants.  If you start hearing things like . . .

Why Focus Only on the Spot?

Why Focus Only on the Spot?

  • That will never change.
  • We don’t things like that around here.
  • etc.

. . . then you may want to jolt your participants.  We have covered similar exercises in the past such as the “Four Dots” and “Bookworm”.  Here is another example that is quick, simple, and effective.  Some call it the “Spot.”

Goal

To shake up a paradigm, challenge group think, or otherwise get your participants to focus on the CONTEXT of something in addition to the CONTENT.

Method

Using a large flip chart, or distributing white sheets of paper, place a small, colored spot or a few colored spots on the paper.  Ask the participants to indicate what they see on the paper.

Most of them, and usually in sequence, will indicate they see a “Green Spot” (or any color you choose).  Consider using the white space on the easel to tally the number of same or similar response.

While confirming that you also see the spot(s), NOTE that most individuals overlooked the large amount of white space surrounding the dots.  In a similar fashion, the context around us or the deliverable (be it a decision, a plan, etc.) is often missed or underappreciated.  You may point to the importance of interpersonal relationship at work as an example.

Additionally, you may point out that customers tend to identify the blemishes in our products and services, and frequently have the reasonable expectation for them to be fixed.   Likewise, management focuses on the “dots” of our projects or personal performance, failing to properly value the vastness of good, solid contributions and effort.

Conclude by sharing that while it may be appropriate to look for the “spots”, that we should also force ourselves to consider the large white area of equal importance.  If there is any unique contribution or answer besides “dots” emphasize how that voice may have been discounted when the rest of the group focused on the “dots”, when in fact that solo voice may have been speaking about something far more important than the rest of the group combined.

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

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. 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 numerous 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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