How to Manage Meeting Participants With Problems Without Embarrassing Them


People with Problems

The following is a table of the characteristics or people problems and some suggestions on how to deal with them.

NAME CHARACTERISTICS WHAT TO DO
The Latecomer Always comes late to meetings, makes a show of arrival, and insists on catching up and stopping the group midstream. Enforce punctuality ground rule; do not disturb meeting or allow person to catch up; talk to during break if necessary.
The Early Leaver Drains group’s energy and morale by leaving meeting before its end. Handle as a latecomer; do not stop the meeting for one person.
The Broken Record Brings up the same point repeatedly; constantly tries to focus discussion of this issue; can prevent group from moving ahead to new items even if ready. The broken record needs to be heard.   Document their input but do not make it an open item until later in the workshop.
The Head Shaker Actively expresses disapproval through body language and nonverbal cues such as rolling eyes, shaking head, crossing and uncrossing arms, sighing, etc. Covertly influences group to reject an idea. Simply approach the head shaker.   Do not allow these nonverbal cues to continue unnoticed. Use open hands to ask them to orally agree or disagree, depending on their actions.
The Dropout Constantly engaged with their “crackberry” or laptop; expresses disapproval or dislike by ignoring the proceedings; may read, do unrelated paperwork to avoid getting engaged in the session. Caution, a doodler is not dropping out—they may be a horizontal thinker. Use laser focus so that they know that you see them. During a break, talk to them. Do NOT publicly call out their name and ask for participation.Encourage your culture to embrace “topless meetings” that prohibit laptops and smart devices.

Consider purchasing an electronic “jammer” for USD$50-$100.

The Whisperer Constantly whispering during meetings, holding offside conversations; upstages facilitator or session leader, as well as other group members. Standing close to the 
whisperer(s) will stop their conversation. Enforce one conversation at a time with the entire group.
The Loudmouth Talks too often and too loudly; dominates the discussion; seemingly impossible to shut up; may be someone who has a higher rank than other group members. Record input if on topic. If not, direct conversation away; stand in front of person for a short time; talk to during break.
The Attacker Launches verbal, personal attacks on other group members and/ or facilitator; constantly ridicules a specific participant’s or constituency view. Stand between two people fighting; stop attacks; use additional ground rules 
to control.
The Interpreter Always speaks for someone else, usually without invitation to do so; restates ideas or meanings and frequently distorts it in the process. First get original speaker to confirm without embarrassing or putting on the spot and then pass the “talking stick.”
The Sleeper Challenged to stay awake, especially during late afternoon sessions. Ideally, open a window.   Practically, walk around them if possible or apply “hand lotion” near them.
The Know-it-all Uses credentials, age, seniority, etc, to argue a point; focuses group attention on opinion and status as opposed to the real issue. Often a supervisor or manager; write it down to satisfy and challenge them about relevancy and proof.
The Backseat Driver Keeps telling the session leader or facilitator what to do—or not do; attempts to control the meeting by downgrading facilitator’s efforts. Listen to some comments—they may be good; never turn over control; talk to during breaks; enforce roles.
The Busybody Always ducking in and out of meetings, does not ask subordinates to hold calls, tries to give impression of being too busy (and therefore important) to devote full attention to the meeting and the group. Deal with like the latecomer or early leaver; try to establish rules to control during preparation. Allow frequent bio-breaks for people to react to their electronic leashes.
The Interrupter Jumps into the discussion and cuts off someone else’s comments; acts impatient, too excited, or concerned that own ideas will not be acknowledged. Stop them immediately to protect the source; always get back to them but do not allow them to interrupt; they will learn.
The Uninvited Show up without an invitation Explain and enforce the role of Observer, noting they may speak during breaks.
The Doubting Thomas Voiced skepticism, shrouded with genuine concern. Use the “What—So What—Now What” approach. They may be on to something significant.
The Quiet Person While it is true that we are not going to convert quiet people into aggressive extroverts who dominate a meeting, there are steps that facilitators can take to transform the velocity of contributions from quiet people.
  1. Interview your participants
  2. Breakout sessions
  3. Non-verbal solicitation
  4. Reinforce during break
  5. Round-robins & Post-It note approaches

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.

Understanding the Method to Manage Meeting Participants with Problems


Politikos

The term ‘Politikos’ means ‘the science of people. You deal more ably with participants as you gain more experience. However, there is a certain degree of comfort in recognizing that there are some common patterns of behavior that are likely to occur.Keep one thing in mind however; participants cause problems only for a certain time. Often a participant causing a problem becomes productive in a different situation. Do not label people permanently.

Identifying Problems

You identify participants displaying problems because they generally disrupt the session. Sometimes, however, they don’t participate. When we say that a participant is displaying problems, we mean that their communication is ineffective because of some characteristic that gets in the way of communication, for example:

To deal with the people on the ends of the curve (ie, the outliers), assume that people have good intentions and focus your energy on discovering what is causing the difficulty. In other words, identify the problem—do not highlight the person(with the problem).

Praise in Public

Motivation of People

People are motivated by:

  • Need to control (power motivation)

o   They rebel against a loss of control.

o   Turf issues arise.

  • Need to excel (achievement motivation)

o   People don’t want to look bad in a group.

o   All participants are speaking publicly—public speaking scares many people.

  • Need to bond (affiliation motivation)

o   Attacks and win-lose situations affect participants’ ability or willingness to bond.

Managing Problems

Determine what is motivating a participant you are dealing with. Once you understand that, use the following sequence of guidelines in dealing with them.

  • First determine and correct the cause of the problem.
  • Mitigate the symptom if the cause cannot be corrected by:

o   Ground rules

o   Body position

o   Eye contact

o   Talking with the participant during a break

  • Enlist help from the business partner or executive sponsor.
  • Last resort—have the problem participant removed.

Exceptions

There are three exceptions to the rules above—the business or technical partner and the executive sponsor. None of these people can be removed. You cannot go over their heads to get additional help. For these participants you:

                        Partners            •     Set expectations before the session. Ensure that the partners know what they want—if not help them. Never argue with them in the workshop—they are your clients. Do not do their job.

                        Executive          •     The executive sponsor is most likely dominating. It is their job. If the session is not for policy, ask the executive to leave. If the session is policy, treat the others as if they are the problem (they are). Never allow the executive to dominate since they are but a participant in the meeting and all participants have an equal voice. Talk to the executive but always remain the process leader.

People Principles

Following are guiding principles for dealing with people (all based on “Treat others as you wish to be treated”):

  • Never embarrass people, especially in public.
  • People are creative if asked.
  • People are intrinsically reasonable.
  • People do not like to be blamed.
  • People have different goals in life.
  • People prefer the positive to the negative.
  • People share similar fears.

Managing Issues

Here are the tactics listed in order of priority and frequency of use for managing issues and personality challenges:

  • Interviews
  • Ground rules
  • Eye contact
  • Body Position
  • Take a break
  • Exercises

Note of Caution

Whenever you allow a win-lose situation to occur, you will cause problems. Latecomers, early leavers, dropouts, etc, are often manifestations of their anger at losing. Correct the win-lose situation to make all participants productive.

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.

Professional Facilitative Leadership and Facilitator Training for Structured Meetings and Workshops

FUD: Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt Amplify Fear but People Change Anyway


Paradigms

Paradigms are established accepted norms, patterns of behavior or shared set of assumptions. They are models that establish boundaries or rules for success. Paradigms may present structural barriers to creativity based on psychological, cultural, and environmental factors. Examples include:

  • Flow charts, diagrams, and other conventions for presenting information (eg, swim lane diagrams)

    More Similarities Than Differences

    More Similarities Than Differences

  • Stereotypes about men and women and their roles in business, family, and society
  • Where people sit in meetings—once they find a seat it becomes their seat for the rest of the meeting

Not All Bad

There are many more paradigms in life. Paradigms are not bad unless they become barriers to progress. People either understand paradigms or risk being left behind. What is impossible with one paradigm is easy with another—because “I didn’t know any better.” When paradigms change, everyone starts over.

Changing Paradigms

To cause groups to challenge and possibly modify their paradigms, do the following:

  • Ask the “Paradigm Shift” question—“What is impossible today, but if made possible . . . What would you do?”
  • Force the group to look at a familiar object or idea in a new way.
  • Use the “Five-year Old” routine—ask—“But why?” frequently, or until the group thoroughly discusses an issue, its assumptions and implications.
  • Develop a clear problem statementor use a problem such as the example provided below).

“An automobile traveling on a deserted road blows a tire. The occupants discover that there is no jack in the trunk. They define the problem as “finding a jack” and decide to walk to a station for a jack. Another automobile on the same road also blows a tire. The occupants also discover that there is no jack. They define the problem as “raising the automobile.” They see an old barn, push the auto there, raise it on a pulley, change the tire, and drive off while the occupants of the first car are still trudging towards the service station.”

            Getzels, J.W., Problem-finding and the inventiveness of solutions, 
Journal of Creative Behavior, 1975, 9(1), pp 12-18.

Shifting perspectives will frequently help “shake” paradigms. Consider using Edward de Bono’s Thinking Hats or imposing some other perspective or comparison such as:

  • A monastery compared to the “mafia”
  • Steve Jobs compared to Bill Gates
  • Ant colony compared to a penal colony
  • A weather system compared to a gambling system
  • Mother Teresa of Calcutta compared to Genghis Khan
  • Etcetera

People DO Change

Recent research (2007, Dyer) has proven that people do change. There is a quantum shift of values after twenty to thirty years of life.

Change occurs across both men and women, although their before and after values remain different. The shifts shown below occur after a relatively significant change in maturity, such as we find today with “empty nesters” or people that find themselves no longer hosting others, in particular, their children.

Note the implications for a facilitated session with people coming from all four categories shown below.

Men and Women Do Change

Men and Women Do Change

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.

The Way People Think Affects How You Intervene to Build Consensus


Differences

People think differently. As session leader, you empower participants and their ability to understand and communicate with each other. You also enable them to think creatively about their business. The following two subjects deal with the thinking patterns of people—horizontal/ vertical thinking and paradigms.

Horizontal/ Vertical

Participants in a workshop argue over a seemingly simple issue. Two people hear the same thing and react as if they each were in different meetings. Why? Because people interpret information differently. There are many theories about how people process information.

One theory states that the two spheres of the brain, the right and the left, govern our thinking with right brain or left brain thinking.

Another theory that explains the differences more clearly is Communicoding. This theory states that there are two modes of thinking for processing information, vertical and horizontal. These two modes of thinking may have a difficult time communicating with each other because the way that each perceives the world is different. What are they?

People Learn Differently

People Learn Differently

Vertical Thinker

A vertical thinker is often described as very logical, organized, and detail-oriented. Vertical thinkers:

  • Easily discern immediate dynamics of a problem.
  • Identify specific details and relate issues to reality.
  • Know what can be accomplished within a given time.
  • See barriers and obstacles to be removed.
  • Take the likely paths to reach results.
  • Work well in structured environments.

The vertical thinker’s main characteristic is that they find differences. Vertical thinkers can decompose something and design something new from the pieces. They work from exclusion.

Horizontal Thinker

A horizontal thinker is often described as far-sighted, innovative, and conceptual. Horizontal thinkers:

  • Easily discern the underlying dynamics of a problem.
  • Identify context details—relating issues to a larger perspective.
  • Know what impact can be achieved within a given context.
  • See possibilities and benefits to strive for.
  • Take the unlikely paths to reach results.
  • Work well in unstructured environments.

Horizontal thinkers’ main characteristic is that they find similarities. They are able to find the common thread—to make new associations among unrelated items. They work from inclusion.

To Identify

As a facilitator, you cannot change the way people think—andnever label participants. You do help the participants in a workshop learn to hear each other and to better understand their communication challenges. Clues that thinking differences are causing problems are:

  • One person arguing about the problems while another is focused on the benefits.
  • One person trying to get to the details while the other is trying to focus on the ideas.
  • People using the same words yet meaning something different or arguing as if they are saying something different.
  • Using different words that seem to be saying the same thing.

To Fix

When you hear communication problems consider the following:

  • Capture what each person is saying—write it on the flip charts without putting their names by the ideas.
  • Draw pictures using visual aids, flip charts, and models. By using visual support or other exercises, participants learn about their business.
  • Get the group to see both similarities and differences.
  • Move the focus of the group away from people and onto the 
issue(s) at hand.
  • Summarize both similarities and differences and get the group to decide what to do with them or move along to the next step.

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.

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.

Use a Creativity Tool to Launch the Ideation Activity within Brainstorming


Purpose

The following Creativity tool stimulates the ideation activity of Brainstorming and enables people to express ideas and beliefs non-verbally, even if they cannot or will not do it orally. This is especially beneficial for developing visions of the business, system, or organization.  It should also be used when defining, especially complex products or processes.

Method

Creativity Tool Example

Creativity Tool Example

The Creativity tool allows each team to draw pictorial answers about a specific question or to provide solutions for a specific scenario. It frequently takes less time than narrative capture. If you use this tool early during the workshop, you can mount visually stimulating wallpaper that participants will refer to later. Since teams rather than individuals generate the results, you provide timid participants permission to speak freely by enabling them to defend or explain what their teams created. Complete the following:

  • Divide the group into smaller teams of three to five people.  Watch the mix of people—plan how you want to mix them.
  • Explain what they will be doing and provide a visual prompt of the question(s) that need to be answered.  Examples:
    • Draw a picture of how the organization looks today.
    • Draw a picture of how you would like the organization or system to look in the future.
    • Draw your vision of where you are going with the business or system.
    • (illustrative) Provide answers to the question, “What do you expect to get out of this class?”
  • You can use one or more of the above examples or your own. If you have the teams draw pictures of both today and the future, you empower them with the ability to compare and contrast.
  • Provide a time limit, flip chart paper, and colored markers.
  • When finished, have each team present their drawing(s). Consider using the Bookend tool for identifying commonalities and items that may be extremely unique. Keep the drawings mounted on the wall and do NOT mark on them.
  • Separately, capture their narrative explanations and feed back and confirm that the narrative reflections are accurate and complete.

Notes

This exercise is powerful in drawing out beliefs and ideas. Use it effectively by knowing how you are going to use the output.

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.

A Few Dozen, Simple Yet Highly Effective Icebreakers (aka, Meeting Sparks)


Purpose

To get participants vocal and more participatory sooner by introducing themselves beyond name and title.  All of these can be used with virtual meetings as well.

Method

Ice Breakers (aka Meeting Sparks)

Ice Breakers (aka Meeting Sparks)

Ask them to share with the group—here are some ideas to consider:

  • A simple yet effective-method relies on the “If I were a . .  . “ approach such as—“If I were a gem, I would be a ____” or “If I were a flower, I would be a ____” or “If I were a bird, I would be a _____” or “If I were a vehicle, I would be a _____”
  • Describe your dream career as a child.
  • Explain how you got one of your scars (and where it is).
  • If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
  • If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
  • If you were a room in a house, which room are you and why?
  • “My hero is . . .”
  • Name a talent that you have and no one here knows about it.
  • Name your favorite James Bond actor and explain why.
  • Sound out or act out your high school mascot.
  • The title of your autobiography?
  • Two truths and a lie—participants guess the lie.
  • What is the first event you remember vividly in life?
  • What kind and brand of automobile would you be and why?
  • What kitchen appliance or tool would you be and why?
  • What was the last song you sang out loud by yourself?
  • What was your strangest paying job or chore?
  • What would you bring with you on a desert island?
  • What’s on your reading list or nightstand?
  • “Would you rather?” questions; eg, Would you rather be invisible or be able to read minds? Would you rather live without music or live without television? Would you rather be 4 feet tall or 8 feet tall? (see http://www.teampedia.net/)
  • Your favorite ice cream?

Meeting Sparks

  • Start with a “Fun Fact” sharing by each individual of something previously unknown to everyone.
  • Based on a project theme, create new surnames for participants; eg, Lori Aconcagua (ie, highest mountain in South America).
  • On a rotating basis, have an assignee bring in a joke.
  • Start the meeting with a song and award a prize to the first person that correctly identifies the name or artist or both.

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.

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