Six Benefits by Improving Your Facilitative Leadership and Meeting Skills


As you amplify and increase your facilitative leadership skills, you and your team participants will become more successful.  What is our measurement of success?  Let us consider six substantial areas of success including:

  1. Consensual Understanding and Higher Quality Decisions
  2. Flexibility and Breaking through Stalemates and Deadlocks
  3. Impactful Groups through Improved Working Relationships
  4. Integral Decision-Making
  5. Knowledge Transfer and Increased Organizational Effectiveness
  6. Saving Time and Increased Personal Effectiveness

Let us look at each briefly in a more detail:

Strengthen Your Skills

Strengthen Your Skills

  1. Consensual Understanding and Higher Quality Decisions:  Properly facilitated, participants understand both WHAT is decided and WHY.  Since groups are capable of generating more options than the aggregate of individuals, they arrive at higher quality decisions that are capable of reconciling seemingly contrary points of view.
  2. Flexibility and Breaking through Stalemates and Deadlocks:  Structured approaches afford a higher degree of flexibility, than approaches without structure.  With structure, and topical flow, meetings can take the “scenic route” because there is a back-up plan to provide a respite from the stream of consciousness approach taken by unstructured meetings.  By exploring newly created options and challenging working assumptions, teams can breakthrough their stalemates and deadlocks by rediscovering common ground or by creating options during the meeting that did not walk in to the room at the start of the meeting.
  3. Impactful Groups through Improved Working Relationships:  Conflict becomes properly managed rather than ignored.  Complex issues may be addressed face-to-face as they should, rather than through a series of e-mails and innuendo.  Proper facilitation will demonstrate the opportunity and method for discovering win-win solutions.  As stakeholders’ ideas are sought, meeting activity will become more collaborative and innovative
  4. Integral Decision-Making: Defined as better alignment with organizational goals and objectives.  Structured decision-making must appeal to organizational goals and objectives supported by the meeting; typically the project, program, business unit, and enterprise.  Alignment with the “holarchial” perspective ensures that proposed actions are appropriate and supports prioritization based on the impact of proposed changes across the entire enterprise.  Effective decision-making reflects the integral perspective.
  5. Knowledge Transfer and Increased Organizational Effectiveness:  Learning organizations understand the need and power behind the transfer of knowledge from those who know to those who do not know, but should.  Facilitated environments provide the opportunity for challenge, reflection, and documentation that underlies shared understanding and amplifies organizational effectiveness.  Facilitative leadership also makes it easier to develop new leaders.
  6. Saving Time and Increased Personal Effectiveness:  Session leaders (aka facilitators) will more done faster.  As staff is treated as colleagues, commitment and motivation increases.  By becoming expert on method and tools rather than content, they can continue to use tools that generate consistent and repeatable results.  Meetings only fail because either the participants do not have the talent, do not have the motivation, or do not know how.  The role of the facilitative leader shows them how.

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 Help a Group Decide the WHY, WHAT, & HOW—Purpose, Criteria, & Options


To facilitate consensus around simple decision-making, consider the following scenario and do not forget to help the group articulate the purpose of the project your meeting supports.  Let us say that four of us are taking a trip from Minneapolis to New Orleans.  Consider the options, or how we might get there:

 Options (HOW)

WHY Are We Doing This?

WHY Are We Doing This?

  • Aero plane
  • Automobile (motorized 4-wheel vehicle)
  • Bicycle
  • Boat (or, canoe)
  • Bus
  • Hitchhike
  • Horseback
  • Limousine rental
  • Taxi cab
  • Walk
  • Etc.

To decide among the competing options we would consider the constraints and requirements.  Let us call those considerations, the decision criteria.  They provide an understanding of WHAT we must consider in our decision.  Consider some of the decision criteria, as follows:

 Criteria (WHAT)

  • Accessibility
  • Comfort
  • Cost
  • Ecological impact
  • Expected arrival date (if any)
  • Fears or phobias
  • Length of trip
  • Quality of participants (eg, physical vitality)
  • Quantity of participants
  • Time of year
  • Etc.

 Purpose (WHY)

To effectively build consensus around which option to select, the criteria are essential.  However, we are missing a primary component; ie, WHY are we taking the trip.  Frequently, groups fail to understand or build the necessary purpose statement that underlies effective decision-making.  As facilitators and participants, since the purpose may be clear in our own minds, we assume that everyone else’s purpose is the same as ours.

Prove it.  Make certain you facilitate and codify a purpose statement, whether using the FAST Purpose Tool or some other method; the purpose of the trip is essential to deciding HOW we are going to get to our destination.

Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember friends, 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).

Daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

The Powerful Affect of Professional Facilitation on New Product Development


Structured facilitation is frequently leveraged during project management, requirements gathering, process improvement, decision-making, look backs, and product development.  Product development has been ignored somewhat without explicit references, so here is an overview of WHY facilitation is critical to top line growth by exploring the voice of the customer.Diamond in the Rough

The number one cause of failure for newly introduced products is poor evaluation of ideas. Frequently customers either don’t need the new product (i.e., technology push) or the product does not work as expected. Structured facilitation improves the quality of evaluation and decision-making so that the best concepts are commercialized.

Focus groups stress qualitative aspects and may not effectively represent the market at large. Offline research tends to be overly quantitative ands sterile, frequently subject to close-ended questions/ answers when conditional knowledge may be more important to informed decisions. While one-on-one interviews afford deep probes, they confine the knowledge to what is known; i.e., they stay “in the box”.

Surveys may be fine for tracking results, but lack the ability to provide leading indication of unmet needs and unexplored issues. Web-based discussions drive further, but do not support solid decision-making principles. Concept testing provides qualitative feedback, but alone lacks the quantitative rigor needed to support decisions. Conjoint analysis, also knows as “Com-Pair” and other terms, supports decision-making but does not help to generate new ideas or options.

Structured facilitative workshops alone bring the best of all methods together. They can be used to generate breakthrough ideas, create strategies, and ensure alignment with more customers. While group dynamics can stimulate discussion and lead to higher quality ideas and decisions, without proper facilitation, dominant personalities may bias groups. Starting with customer pain points and leveraging the input from other methods mentioned above, a collaborative approach will always generate higher quality decisions than those made in a vacuum or subjected to seen and unseen biases.

A strong facilitator will be ready and willing to challenge with reflexive questioning, the “pregnant pause”, and other proven techniques to elicit more information and more options. Nobody is smarter than everybody, especially in the hands of a professional facilitator.

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 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.

Related articles

How to Build a Flexibility Matrix to Guide Consistent Group Decision-Making


Triple constraint theory suggests that it is not practical to expect to build the fastest, the cheapest, and the highest quality. Typically, something has to “give.” While most executive sponsors aspire for all three characteristics, the nature of group decision-making suggests that time, cost, and quality are the three most important considerations, yet we need to remain more or less flexible with time, cost, or quality.

To help groups understand the tradeoffs that need to be made, consider building a Flexibility Matrix.

RationaleIllustrative Flexibility Matrix

All sponsors want the best, the fastest, and the cheapest but something has to give.  You could never ask an executive sponsor ‘which is most important?’ because they would answer “All of them”.  Therefore, we concede that quality, speed, and price are all most important, but we seek to understand where we have the most amount of flexibility, and conversely, the least amount of flexibility.

Method

Since the sponsor may not give us their preferences, we can ask the team to build it, knowing that the Flexibility Matrix captures the group assumptions that support the decisions made.

Build the matrix factors in advance and define or explain the terms time, cost, and quality for your situation. Be certain to work the bookends and ask the team where we have the most amount of flexibility?  Then the least? We know the moderate box by default since it is the only blank remaining.

This is important.  After you have created the visual response, have the team convert each checkmark into a narrative sentence or statement, for example:

Schedule is least flexible because we must have the release ready by October 1.

Quality (scope) is the most flexible because we can release an upgrade or modification after December 1.

Challenge

Make sure you fully define time, cost, and quality in advance of the facilitated session.  For example, if we are deciding on the criteria to support a decision about where to locate a landfill (ie, garbage dump), we might define time as when the landfill opens, cost as the total cost of ownership, and quality as the impact on the environment. As such, the “answer” would likely be the opposite of the chart shown above, with time being the most flexible and quality being the least flexible.

8 Meeting Purposes: What Tasks Are You Asking Your Group To Accomplish?


Effective meetings are first based on clear line of sight to the end result, preferably something that can be documented.  All too often meetings are held with the intent of determining WHAT the deliverable ought be for a group of people, clearly a sign of weak methodology.  Here are some of the most common reasons for meetings and some of the benefits or problems associated with each.

Meeting Types

  • Analysis—highly complex situations may require multiple subject matter experts.  Frequently experts have their own vernacular or vocabulary, and a meeting is appropriate to homogenize understanding and agreement.  Have you ever run a meeting with PhD engineers and creative marketing folks together?  Sometimes it sounds like they are from different planets.
  • Assignments—structured meetings or workshops provide an excellent means of building agreement around roles and responsibilities.  When embracing our popular FAST technique, you can leave the meeting with a consensually built GANTT chart, estimation of resource requirements, and approximation of budget needs.
  • Decision-Making—since resources typically fall short of the demands, prioritization is critical for high group performance.  No team has the time or resource to do everything.  Consensual understanding around prioritization provides one of the best justifications for hosting a meeting or workshop.
  • Idea Generation—the reason that groups are smarter than the smartest person in the group is because groups create more options than simply aggregating the input of participants.  Many of the best ideas did not walk into the meeting; rather they were created during the meeting, based on stimulation from others.
  • Information Exchange—by far and away the most common reason for meetings is also one of the worst possible reasons for justifying a meeting.  With instant access and electronic filing cabinets, coming together face-to-face is a very expensive way to exchange information.  A better justification would be to address questions about clarity, agreement, and omissions of related information or the impact the information ought have on the behavior of participants.
  • Inspiration and Fun—meetings can be effectively used to both reward, incent, and incite but usually on a large-scale that involve complimentary events or sessions that also involve learning and building teamwork.
  • Persuasion—probably the worst reason for holding a meeting is to convince other people to change their behavior.  There are three primary forms of persuasion; namely identification (eg, advertising), internalization (ie, long-lasting), and forced-compliance (ie, “gun to the head”).  Meetings are sub-optimal for all three forms of persuasion, and therefore are rarely successful at persuasion.
  • Relationships—simply pulling together people face-to-face provides the glue that can pull people together and get them to work more cooperatively.  Frequently venting, or managing conflict, can result in increased effectiveness.  Probably the best time to invest in face-to-face meetings is when people don’t agree with each other and need to both reconcile their points of view and agree to move on.

For what other reasons have you found yourself in a meeting?  What other reasons do you think exist to justify a meeting?  We would love to receive your answers to this question.

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.

Related articles

 

Five Compelling Business or Organizational Reasons to Hold a Facilitated Session


Purpose

The most important action most people take every day is to make choices, to decide.  Productivity is amplified if decisions are properly made about when to work alone, speak with one other person, or to pull together a group of people, typically called a meeting.

The advantages to a facilitated meeting or workshop include:

  1. Higher quality results: groups of people generally make higher quality decisions than the smartest person in the group.  Facilitated sessions encourage the exchange of different points of view enabling the group to identify new options, and it is a proven fact that any person or group with more options at its disposal makes higher quality decisions.
  2. Faster results: facilitated sessions can accelerate the capture of information, especially if the meeting participants (aka subject matter experts) arrive prepared with an understanding of the questions and issues that need to be discussed.
  3. Richer results: by pooling skills and resources, diverse and heterogeneous groups develop more specific details and anticipate future demands, subsequently saving time and money in the project or program life cycle.
  4. People stimulate people: properly facilitated sessions can lead to innovation and the catalyst for innovative opportunities because multiple perspectives generate a richer (360 degree) understanding of a problem or challenge, rather than a narrow, myopic view.
  5. Transfer of ownership: facilitated sessions are oriented toward further action by creating deliverables that support follow-up efforts.  Professional facilitators use a method that builds commitment and support from the participants, rather than directing responsibility at the participants.

Description

Conducting facilitated sessions includes preparatory time, actual contact time during the session, and follow-up time as well.  Therefore, successful sessions depend upon clearly defined roles, especially distinguishing between the role of facilitator and the role of methodologist (that are also discrete from the role of scribe or documenter, coordinator, etc.).  Carefully managed sessions also embrace ground rules to ensure getting more done, faster.

Much effort may be provided before the session to ensure high productivity, including:

  • Researching both methodological options and content to be explored
  • Review and documentation of minutes, records, findings, and group decisions that affect the project being supported with this particular meeting or workshop session
  • Completion of individual and small group assignments prior to sessions

When conducted properly, meetings with groups of people are strenuous for everyone involved, which is why they may be called workshops or workouts.  Therefore, avoid an overly ambitious agenda and plan for at least two, ten-minute breaks every four hours. Use our FAST ten-minute timers to ensure that breaks do not extend to eleven or twelve minutes. Strive to provide dedicated resources, such as a facilitator professionally trained in structured methods.

Discourage unplanned interruptions, especially through electronic leashes. “Topless” meetings are increasingly popular, meaning no laptops or desktop devices (eg, smart phones) except for accessing content needed to support the session. “No praying underneath the table” is another expression used to discourage people from using their gadgets on their laps, presumably beyond the line of sight of others, when in fact, everyone can see what they are doing anyway. For serious consensual challenges or multiple day sessions, sessions should be held away from the participants’ everyday work site to minimize interruptions and everyday job distractions.

Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember friends, 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).

Daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify the skills of a facilitative leader.

How to Manage Group Conflict Resulting in Higher Quality Deliverables


Don’t Run

A facilitator sees conflict in a workshop coming from the group and coming from within.  Internal and external conflict reflect emotions that, when harnessed, enable creative change.  A facilitator must understand and manage conflict.  A meeting without conflict is a boring meeting, and we’ve seen very little value derived from predictable and unexciting meetings and workshops.

Additionally the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) aspires for you to:

  • “Help individuals identify and review underlying assumptions
  • Recognize conflict and its role within group learning / maturity
  • Provide a safe environment for conflict to surface
  • Manage disruptive group behavior
  • Support the group through resolution of conflict”

Evolution

Facilitators manage groups.  You must first understand how groups function and appropriate ways to help them without impeding their progress.  Here we discuss the evolution of groups and the types of group leadership to exhibit.

Managing Group Conflict

A Group Life Cycle

Groups, like people, develop and evolve.  They can also regress.  As a session leader, you are responsible for moving a group through a developmental process.  Most groups strive to evolve through four stages as they develop through this life cycle.  For any given group, you may see only the first two or three stages.  Do not forget—in a room of ten people, there are at least eleven personalities!

Stages and characteristics include:

  • Forming Orientation, hesitant participation, search for meaning, dependency
  • Storming Conflict, dominance, rebelliousness, power
  • Norming Expression of opinions, development of group cohesion
  • Performing Emergence of solutions, formation of a “team”

Note:   The four stages are adapted from Tuckman, B.W., “Development sequence in small groups,” Psychological Bulletin, 1965, 63, 384-399.

Stage 1

Forming— Key word: Confusion.  Groups at this early stage are working on two primary areas, the reason they are there (purpose) and social relationships.  Some landmarks:

  • Concern over purpose, relevance of meeting, “How this helps?”
  • Looking to the leader for structure, answers, approval, acceptance
  • “Why are we here?”
  • Quiet groups
  • Looking to the leader to prove that the session will work

Cultures that find themselves locked into this stage are frequently described as “Command Control” where all decision-making is done by superiors.  Participants meanwhile stay focused on “I” such as, “I wish I had eaten something before this meeting.”

Stage 2

Storming—Key words: Conflict (differences) and creativity.  Groups begin to acknowledge differences in perspectives; conflict is characteristic between members or between members and leader.  Some landmarks:

  • Struggle for control
  • Some members with strong needs to dominate
  • Possible hostility toward leader
  • Looking to, expecting the leader to be magical
  • Open expression of differences
  • Accepting conflicts as sources of creativity

Cultures in this phase focus on cultivating and changing through personal and professional improvement.  Participants get nudged to begin thinking about what “It” is that justified our time together.

Stage 3

Norming—Key words: communication and commitment.  Rather than focusing on differences, members begin to recognize the commonality and shared interests.  The participants are more comfortable about expressing their opinions.  Some landmarks:

  • More open communication
  • Still some unwillingness to be fully responsible for outcome
  • Inter-member support

Cultures here display and value competence, especially on the expert capabilities of a few members of the group or team.  Individuals can start thinking about the deliverables and how it impacts “Thou” people throughout the organization

Stage 4

Performing—Key words: Communication, community, consensus, and commitment.  Rather than focusing on differences, members begin to recognize the commonality and shared interests.  The participants form a cohesive team—they unite.  Some landmarks:

  • Open communication
  • Pride in the group
  • Focus on getting the shared goals, task of the group accomplished
  • Inter-member support

Here we have a collaborative culture where decisions are consensus driven and the team works in complete partnership toward success.  The individuals view themselves as an integral unit, known as “We”.

Not Clear

Boundaries between stages are not always clear, nor does a group permanently move from one stage.  As facilitator, you guide the group through the earlier stages into performing.

Readiness

In working with the group during a meeting, you need to gauge how the group, as a whole, is able to perform the task at hand.  Depending on the readiness of the group, you as process leader will lead in different ways.

Readiness consists of two qualities, job or task readiness and psychological readiness (motivation, confidence).

Assessing

To assess the group’s readiness, ask yourself these two questions:

  1. “Do they have the necessary skills or information?” (task readiness).  Groups in Stages 1 and 2 lack task readiness.
  2. “Do they have the appropriate emotional qualities or resources (relationship readiness)?”  Groups in Stages 2 and 3 lack relationship readiness.

Groups in Stage 4 are ready to do the task and build relationships.

Leadership Styles

As leader, you monitor these two dimensions (task and relationship) constantly on both a group and an individual level.

As you do, you express your assessment of the situation in two types of leader behavior.  These are:

  • Task/ directive behavior (ie, process policeman)
  • Relationship behavior (ie, empathetic listening)
For detailed support, see your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST Professional Facilitative Leadership training  session offered around the world (see http://www.mgrush.com/ for a current schedule).

How to Build a Group Vision Using the Temporal Shift Tool


TEMPORAL SHIFT

Purpose

Helps groups decide where to go or be at some point in the future.

Rationale

Have you ever had a problem getting a group of friends or family to agree on where to go to eat?  Now try to get a group of bright professionals to agree on where they are headed!  It is much easier to ask and build consensus around “Where have you been ?” or, “What type of legacy have you left behind ?”

This step defines the specific vision of the organization—where it wants to go.  A vision is a desired position specified in sufficient detail so that an organization recognizes it when they reach it.  Effort is directed towards attaining the vision.  Vision drives objectives.

Expected Output

Clearly and properly defined vision statement results.

Method

Use the tactile method with sub-teams as follows:

Hand out recent copies of an appropriate industry or organizational or trade magazine or periodical familiar to the participants.  Turn them to a specific page (could be the front cover) or column that is frequently read.  The Wall Street Journal could be a default publication that you use, but decide which section will display the headline based on the nature of the group you are working with.

Have each group develop a newspaper headline that they would like to read on the date of their vision—eg, “What would the headline read on January 15, 20xx?”  Have them embellish the headline with the story behind the headline.

Bring the teams together to compare and contrast.  Work the Bookends looking for similarities and differences.  First work the headline.  The story items supporting the headlines can also be used to support detailing the vision.

NOTE:  Pretend they are on a beach in the future and pick up this periodical, what you are really asking them is “What is the legacy you have left behind as a result of the effort we began today?”

Closure

This step is complete when you have a statement (not necessarily grammatically pure), that the group believes captures the target or vision of where they want to go.  Check with them to see if they can recognize the target defined by their vision and can tell when they arrive.

Suggestion

See the following websites for headlines from around the world to support your handouts:

http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/flash/default.asp or

http://www.pressreader.com .

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.

Related articles

How to Use “Pros and Cons” with a Group of People


MODERN FRANKLIN

Purpose

This tool supports decision-making for a group of people.  It can be viewed as a surrogate to Benjamin Franklin’s “Pros & Cons” method, whose approach is better suited for an individual than a group of people.  Especially with controversial issues, it is helpful to consider multiple points of view.Two Sides of Every Issues

Method

To discuss a controversial issue, carefully (and with advanced forethought about the need for a homogeneous, heterogeneous, or hybrid blend) separate your participants into three teams: Affirmative, Dismissive, and Observer.  Give the affirmative and dismissive teams each 15 minutes to develop their arguments, respectively supporting and refuting the issue.  The observer team drafts the criteria by which it may evaluate the issue.  Have each team present their arguments to the observer team—like in a debate or court of law.  Next . . .

  • The affirmative and dismissive teams prepare for a two-minute rebuttal to defend their positions.
  • The audience group then describes the criteria they suggest using to decide the issue, based on the arguments presented by both affirmative and dismissive groups.
  • The groups are given another five minutes to revise their arguments based on audience criteria and the debate sequence described above is repeated.
  • After the second round, the teams reform as one to discuss the issue.  If the discussion reaches an impasse, switch team members, carefully placing the louder voices on the teams opposite of their apparent voice so the are forced to the other side.

Do not polarize the participants.  Ensure that the teams are made up of people who hold a variety of views.  You select the teams—do not allow the participants to choose.  In most debate contests, the side you must defend is not known until minutes before the debate, so that the debaters are forced to show-up prepared to argue either side.

Benefits

The benefits of the exercise are that it:

  • Stretches the issues, criteria, and perspectives.
  • Allows the group to build a stronger view of all sides of the issue.
  • Typically provides more robust and coherent arguments, issues, and criteria.

Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember friends, 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)

How to Facilitate Building Force-Field Analysis


Purpose

This facilitative tool modifies and strengthens the comparative approach called “pros & cons.”  It helps groups prioritize and identify opportunities for improvement, especially with project teams.  Force-fields help groups organize their thinking and encourage thoughtful exploration.  Once the forces are identified, the group can analyze their impact, leading to ideas and actions that reinforce the positive and mitigate the negative forces.

Method

This exercise begins by identifying the objectives, or CTQs (Critical to Quality), or targets.  Next, for each objective or discrete variable (typically provided in a list, slide, or hand out), ask the following questions:

  • What is hindering us from reaching this target (negative)?
  • What is helping us move toward this target (positive)?

Given that you have created two new lists (ie, positive and negative forces), adapt the Peter Senge philosophy that it is easier to remove obstacles (the hindrances) than to push harder (supportive forces).  Focus discussion on what we can do different to overcome the hindrances or obstacles, but focus the discussion on one at a time. For each hindrance there should be more than one action that could be offered or considered.

Once the actions have been identified and agreed upon, it may be necessary to prioritize them.  If so, use the FAST technique’s PowerBall or Perceptual Mapping tool to accelerate consensual prioritization.

Notes

See how the first list of objectives generates two lists (ie, support and hindrances) that are then consolidated into one action list, as shown in the following diagram:

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.

Related articles

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