November 21, 2013 Leave a comment
Facilitating business requirements can be substantially different than facilitating community forums and other project-base support meetings. While the tool of active listening provides an important component for both scenarios, the deliverables needed to support most business initiatives are quite different from social or community settings.
Frequently, business facilitators are not seeking agreement, rather harmony. The difference follows. Agreement suggests that everyone is singing the same note, perhaps even on the same instrument. Boring. Reminiscent of the railroad industry in 1899 trying to protect itself, rather than redefining its roles and service value in transportation or logistics (eg, 3PL or Third Party Logistics Providers).
Harmony implies we are seeking an outcome when everyone’s musical note or expression is heard, from whatever instrument they play. The key to successful facilitation is building and leading appropriate structure so that the deliverable captures all of the instruments and all of the tones, like a symphony. The sound of cicadas every few years represents agreement. The music of Pyotr Tchaikovsky reflects a symphonic movement.
Even when seeking agreement as your deliverable, for example in decision-making sessions, the right structure makes it easier for your participants. Consider the PowerBall approach when you can help drive a group toward a simple decision surrounding a well-articulated question (eg, What should we buy?). For complicated situations, use the Scorecard approach that separates fuzzy from SMART criterion, applies weightings, and generates a quantitative score to support discussion focused on comparing your options. For highly complex situations like portfolio management, always embrace the SWOT analysis (introduced to the FAST curriculum in its current form in 2004). In the facilitator’s world, our approach to SWOT is like comparing a Tchaikovsky composition to some kids playing the same note over and over on a kazoo.
As facilitators, our business constraints rarely afford the time and luxury of sitting around the campfire singing Kum Bay Yah and building trust. Therefore it is imperative that we build our structure in advance and lead the method best suited to reconcile the business challenges and trade-offs you might expect. Everyone agreeing will keep you in the box, suffocating innovation. But with harmony you don’t even see the box, as you lead to the creation of a solution that no single participant envisioned when they entered your workshop.
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.
- What is the Difference Between Structured Facilitation and Kum Ba Yah Facilitation? (facilitativeleadership.wordpress.com)
- 15 Critical Guidelines that Are Followed by Highly Effective Facilitators (facilitativeleadership.wordpress.com)
- How to Help a Group Decide the WHY, WHAT, & HOW – Purpose, Criteria, & Options (facilitativeleadership.wordpress.com)