January 29, 2015 1 Comment
“Perversely, organizations with the best human resource departments sometimes have less effective teams. That’s because HR tends to focus on improving individual rather than team behavior.”
— Diane Coutu, HBR, May 2009, pg 99
A primary concern in meetings and information gathering activities is getting good information—to build the right product the first time—and to make well-informed decisions. Significant trends are imbedding the role of ‘facilitator’ in the culture and health of modern, especially holistic, organizations.
Group decision-making processes are more prevalent than ever. Intellectual capital is critical to the growth and profit of service organizations. Manufacturers are becoming “infomediaries” and sourcing production based on worldwide, not parochial, views. Innovation determines the future prosperity of most organizations:
Meta-trends demand facilitative leadership
- Cultural modernization—the basic tenets of modern cultures include equality, personal freedom, and individual requirements.
- Economic globalization—in developed economies, where formal institutions sustain order and predictability, consensus is critical to survival.
- Universal connectivity—information technology continues to inundate us with capabilities and the “death of distance”, when we can find what we need.
- Transactional transparency—ubiquitous computing and comprehensive electronic documentation make leaders and decision makers exposed.
- Individual limitations—empirical evidence that groups make higher quality decisions and are better at addressing more difficult or complex challenges.
Decision-making and information gathering share two problems:
- The first is the communication gap between those who have the information (eg, information technology) and those who need to use it to build something (eg, business community or product development).
- The second is the invariable power struggle between the players involved. Egos make building consensus a significant challenge.
The power struggles between various departments or business units are often the result of language differences. Frequently, power struggles are not intentional but occur because of differing perspectives around the same issue. Reconciliation may be critical to organizational success, particularly for proactive organizations that want to lead change rather than be changed.
Errors & Omissions
The most effective way to reduce the cost of reaching objectives is to reduce errors and omissions. Groups can recall and remember more than individuals and are capable of using the input of individuals to create an integrative response. Consensus helps prevent errors, but more importantly, it helps prevent omissions.
Numerous analytical methodologies, design methodologies, life cycle techniques, etc, have evolved to address errors in the planning and development phase. While methodologies work well in analysis and design, they have not successfully addressed the information gathering necessary to gather effective and timely input. See next week’s column for the solution.
Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.
Become Part of the 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.