Establishing Common Purpose Provides the Secret to Building Consensus


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

Common Purpose

Common Purpose

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

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

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

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

Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills

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

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

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


Purpose

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

Rationale

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

Simple Agenda

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

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

Method

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

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

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

Illustrative SIPOC

Illustrative SIPOC

Summary of steps to be included in this sequence

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

Success Keys

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

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

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

Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills

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

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

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


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

Race Against Time

Race Against Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills

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

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

A Blueprint for Consensus Building Around Strategic Decision-Making


After reviewing some material about the optimal methodology (ie, approach) for strategic distribution planning, related to an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) project, it became quickly evident that the expert’s recommendation followed the basic principles of all decision-making. The three indisputable components include:

  1. Purpose (or, intent)
  2. Options
  3. Criteria

Since not all criteria is of equal value, the author suggested weighting the criteria, referred to as “service outputs.” Even when you make a simple decision about buying new underwear, you consider the purpose (eg; workout, daily, formalwear, etc.), your options (typically stuff on the shelf at the store), and your criteria (ie; style, price, size, etc.). Not surprisingly, you also weigh the criteria, as size is probably the most important criteria, followed closely by price.

In their model they suggest the following:

  • Identify which channels you are seeking to penetrate
  • Isolate the most important segments within each channel
  • Identify their “service outputs” and then to . . .
  1. List clearly
  2. Rank
  3. Prioritize
  4. Rank

Nearly all decisions could be represented on a single-page. We call the visual array a decision-matrix. Compare your options to your criteria.

Decision Support Matrix (illustration)

Decision Support Matrix
(illustration)

Do not ask a close-ended question such as “Does this criteria affect this option?” Rather, ask the open-ended question that yields a powerful visual; namely, “To what extent does this criteria impact this option (ie, High, Low, or Medium). It’s easier to build consensual understanding when taking a non-narrative approach as shown below.

The example suggests the important attributes sought when hiring domestic staff for a wealthy household. Note for example that “Reputation” is less important when hiring a new Gardener than when hiring someone for Day Care support of the children. Again, note that “Creativity” is more important when hiring a chef than when hiring Cleaning Support. The group can easily evaluate the importance of the options by the extent they are supported by the criteria. The group can also see the relative importance of an individual criterion by evaluating its impact across all of the options.

Remember, the secret is to ask the open-ended question, “To what extent . . .” Additionally, since the example is a simple, “plain vanilla” illustration, modify it to your own situation, and consider using the Bookend tool to force fit an even distribution of Highs, Lows, and Moderates across the options or within each option. See the link that follows for further explanation on the use of Bookends.

By the way, some of the criteria used in the distribution channels example might include:

  • Adaptability (eg, to economic upheaval, competitive forces, etc.)
  • Effectiveness (eg, return on investment, market share, etc.)
  • Efficiency (eg, expense to revenue, cost of doing business, etc.)
  • Quality (eg, customer satisfaction, on time performance, etc.)

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.

Seven Traits that Increase the Likelihood of Successful Meetings


Avoid meeting killers. A “killer” would suggest the absence or void of its opposite, a success catalyst. There is no set formula for successful meetings, but there are given traits that suggest a strong likelihood of successful meetings, listed in alphabetical order below:

Successful Team Meetings

Successful Team Meetings

  1. Control the Operational Definitions to Prevent Scope Creep: Unless your deliverable calls for a definition or scoping boundaries, do not allow arguments about the meaning of terms used in your preparatory materials. If you have prepared a meeting deliverable and agenda, then you need to know the meaning of the terms being used, so do not allow any argument about definitions. Scope creep kills projects, and it kills meetings as well.
  2. Embrace Ground Rules to Ensure On-time Performance: The terms “concussion”, “percussion”, and “discussion” are all related. Avoid meeting headaches and get more done faster. You do not have to have ground rules, only if you want to get more done, faster.
  3. Enjoin and Facilitate Argumentation and Discussion: The best return on investment of face-to-face meeting time (and costs) derives from resolving conflict. When two or more people (or teams) disagree, they need facilitation. Arguments are not well solved with text messages, emails, decks of slides, and PDFs.
  4. Focus on the Analytics or Tools that Galvanize Consensus: There is more one than tool in all circumstances. Given your participants, constraints, and personal experience, anticipate a tool that may be optimum for your situation. If possible, anticipate a back-up approach as well, if something goes awry with your plan.
  5. Increase the Velocity of Participation: Groups are smarter than the smartest person in the group because groups generate more options than individuals alone. Solicit and encourage a multiplicity of input. The human mind is empowered tremendously when it can compare and contrast options to influence decision-making.
  6. Know What Done Looks Like: Any leader needs to know where they are going before they take off. The deliverable of your meeting must be made clear before the meeting starts. People can follow someone who knows where they are going. People are reticent to follow someone who does not know where they are going. And meeting participants ALWAYS know the difference.
  7. Prepare a Method or Agenda to Guide the Group: Structure yields flexibility. If you create a map for a journey, it is easy to take a detour or scenic route because you know where to go when the temporary path is no longer valuable. Plan your work and work your plan.

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.

It Is NOT “What’s in it for me?” Rather, “What do you need or want from me?”


One difference between high performance groups and normal or under-performing groups of people is the perspective embraced by the participants during meetings and workshops.  Most participants attend sessions with concern over “What’s in it for me?”  That is neither the right attitude nor the right question.  What they should be asking is “What do you need or want from me (so that we can get done faster)?”

What Do You Need from Me?

What Do You Need from Me?

As facilitator or session leader, it is virtually impossible to shift their attitude at the start of a meeting.  To cause a shift in participant thinking, attitude, and behavior requires clear and two-way communications before the meeting begins.

Most meetings (at least the good ones) typically result in Action Plans and agreed upon roles and responsibilities for making things happen.  Because we expect to hold the participants accountable for their follow-up, get them involved before the meeting starts to understand and agree to the Purpose, Scope, Deliverables, and Simple Agenda for the meeting.

You have every right to expect participants to show up prepared.  As session leader, it is your responsibility to define “prepared.”  How can participants arrive prepared if they do not know the purpose of the meeting before it starts?  How can participants stay focused and complete on time if they do not understand the scope of the meeting (as discrete from the scope of the project the meeting may be supporting)?  How can participants help you get done faster if you and they do not know “what done looks like (ie, deliverable)”?  How can participants agree to follow-up assignments if they are not permitted to provide their input, clarifications, and calibrations about HOW they are going to get done on time (ie, the Agenda)?

Ultimately the reason for most meetings and workshops is that we need consensual answers to relatively complex questions.  If the questions are simple, typically we do not need a meeting nor are their consensual challenges.  Knowing that effective meetings develop consensual answers to questions and problems, the session leader must prepare and know in advance of the meeting, the questions that need to be answered.

Once developed and understood, do not hide the questions to be asked in a meeting.  Share them in advance.  Since select subject matter experts (ie, participants) are more likely to provide input on select questions, highlight the questions on an individual basis and explain to each participants that you expect them to think in advance about their responses.  Explain that when the questions(s) is asked that you have highlighted for them to consider, you expect them to take the lead and be among the first to offer up a perspective.

It’s not easy to run a successful meeting.  That is why many meetings fail or frail.  Your job is to make sure the meeting or workshop is off and running the moment you start.  The only way to ensure that level of productivity is to prepare your participants in advance.

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 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.

Apply “Book-Ends” Method, Rather than Analyzing Lists Using a Linear Method


Purpose

Effective facilitators shy away from working lists in a linear fashion.  The purpose with the use of bookends is to develop a natural habit of squeezing the grey matter towards the middle, rather than wasting too much time on it.

Rationale

Groups tend to argue about grey matter that frequently does not affect the decision anyway.  For instance, with PowerBalls, you can envision some participants arguing whether something is more important than moderate yet less important than high.  We know from experience that high criteria drives most decisions, so bookends help us identify the most important stuff quickly.

Method

After you have compiled a list, compare and contrast different items with the simple process as explained below:

Avoid Linear Analysis

Avoid Linear Analysis

  • Ask, “Which of these is the most important?” (as defined by the PowerBalls displayed).
  • Next ask, “Which of these is the least important?” 
  • Then return to the next most important
  • And to the next least important

Until the list has been squeezed into the remaining one-third that is moderate.

If comparing or contrasting illustrations, consider asking . . .

  • Which is most similar?
  • Which is least similar?

Repeat until one-third remain as moderate.

For discussions consider asking . . .

  • What is your greatest strength?
  • What is your greatest weakness?

Repeat until one-third remain as moderate.

Five-Level Numeric Alternative (plus Null) Where More is Better

5. High Importance

1. Low Importance

4. Moderate Importance

3. Moderately High Importance

2. Moderately Low Importance

Ø.  NULL or Will NOT have

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 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.

Five Narrative Methods of Gathering Participant Input During Brainstorming


The Brainstorming tool comprises three steps; diverge, analyze, and converge.  Besides non-narrative methods of capturing participant input, consider the following options when gathering narrative input from your participants.

Remember to embrace the rules of ideation and prevent discussion while you are capturing their ideas. At the very least, consider one last round robin for final contributions, allowing participants to say “pass” if they have nothing to add.

Ideation Ground Rules

Ideation Ground Rules

Keep in mind that the term “listing” may be more appropriate if you are collecting a known set of information.  True brainstorming derives all future possibilities—anything goes. Beginning with the traditional, facilitator-led question and answer approach; are some additional options to consider:

  • Facilitator-led questions—keep in mind that you can use a support scribe(s) but if so, remind them of the importance of neutrality and capturing complete verbatim inputs.
  • Pass the pen or marker—again having prepared the easel title/ banner, have participants walk up to the easel in the order of an assigned round-robin sequence to document their contribution(s).  This approach is wise after lunch or when participants’ energy is low because it gets participants up and moving around.  Help them with their penmanship or clarity if necessary.
  • Pass the sheet or card—particularly appropriate if time is short, the group is large, or you have many questions requiring input (distribute a writing pad or index card for each question).  Write the question or title on individual large cards or sturdy-stock pieces of paper and either sitting or standing have the participants pass them around until each person has had the opportunity to make a contribution to each question.  This approach helps reduce redundant answers since participants see what prior people have written.
  • Post-it Notes—continue to use easels with sheet titles for posting the notes.  Have individuals mount one idea per note, as many notes as they want, on the appropriate easel whose title/ question matches the answers they are posting.  If there is more than one question, you can color coordinate the easel title/ banner with the Post-it note colors.
  • Round-robin—again having prepared the easel title/ banner, and perhaps in consort with a scribe(s), create an assigned order by which the participants one at a time offer content, permitting any of them to say “pass” at any time.

Consider time boxing the ideation step if necessary, typically in the five to ten minute range.  Remember, the hard part is the analysis that occurs next.

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 working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

How to Build Consensual Definitions that Make It Easier to Plan and Decide


Here is a robust method of defining terms, phrases, or expressions with a group of meeting or workshop participants.  Keep in mind that the standards expected in the method below are demanding and include five separate activities, when combined are highly effective.  Keep this tool in your hip pocket and be prepared to use it whenever you encounter serious discord over the meaning of something.  You may also need this tool when you manage open issues (ie, Parking Lot) and your participants do not agree or cannot remember what something meant.

Purpose

To build an operational definition of a term or phrase that the group can live with, in its own words, and with its own understanding. Since narrative descriptions alone may fall short of the entire meaning, we also want to support the definition with illustration and examples.

Rationale

Robust Definition Tool

Robust Definition Tool

To provide support to a group that needs to consensually arrive at the definition and meaning of something, whether concrete or abstract. This FAST tool supports consensual understanding around terms and phrases but is not robust enough to develop rich definitions for complex ideas like processes, where an entire workshop(s) like Activity Flows may be more useful.

Method

When a term or phrase requires further definition or understanding, it may be best to start with a dictionary definition(s).  However, do not use dictionary definitions alone. Rather, offer them as stimulus for the group to draft their own operational definition. The five additional activities include:

  1. First identify “WHAT THE TERM OR PHRASE IS NOT”.
  2. Next, compile a narrative sentence or paragraph that generally describes it.  Perhaps avoid starting with a blank sheet of paper (ie, use a dictionary or other professional definitions and support).
  3. Then list the detailed bullets that capture the specific characteristics or specifications of the term or phrase as intended by the participants.  For example, with a camera, we might detail requirements for the quantity of mega pixels, zoom range, etc.
  4. Obtain or build a picture of concrete items or create an illustration of the item if it is abstract or dynamic (eg, process flow).
  5. Provide at least two actual, real-life examples from the participants’ experience that vivify the term or phrase. For example, a utility bill can be defined, but it is helpful to show an actual invoice (eg, electricity for the period 15JAN20xx to 14FEB20xx).

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 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.

Building the Strategic Plan for a Function, Process, Activity or Product


Assuredly, organizational executives are known to go off-site to conduct strategic planning sessions, building consensus around vision and strategy to lead an organization to the future it seeks.  It’s infrequently that the Account Payable Department (or, some other function, process, activity or product) will justify off-site strategic planning sessions, and yet a group still needs consensus around why that department (or, some other function, process, activity or product) exists, where they are going, and how they are going to measure their progress.  To build consensual understanding around WHY something exists or WHY it is important, consider the following tool.  If used appropriately, Commander’s Intent (aka, the Purpose Tool) may be the second most frequently used workshop tool, after Brainstorming.

Purpose

The Purpose Tool  (or, Commander's Intent)

The Purpose Tool
(or, Commander’s Intent)

This activity yields a wonderful, group constructed statement that captures the reason, plan, scope, and benefits of a business area.

Rationale

This provides the group a consensually built backdrop that can be appealed to—and helps galvanize consensus around analytical methods and decision-making that follow.

Method

Either on one easel or two separate easels, in advance you should build out the visual prompt (preferably in a separate color), that “The Purpose of ____ is to . . . (ellipsis) So that . . . (ellipsis).”

  • Prompt your participants with “The Purpose of ____ is to . . .
  • If you are scribing and the room is silent, as you print the last word from the previous input, prompt them audibly with “So that . . .” because you want to keep the energy high.
  • Do not use hyphens as you capture, rather use commas as you are helping them build one, long run-on sentence.
  • Do not wordsmith the results but be certain to reread, review, and confirm that they have created a statement that everyone can live with.  Basically, you have created a strategic plan at the level of a business area or activity—why it is important.
  • Review during the workshop as an appeal to ensure that the discussion stays on topic.  If necessary, either take off topic discussion and ask that it be placed in the Issue Bin or go back and modify this statement to allow for its inclusion.

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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