Documentor Support

Who are the Best Documentors?

Many people are unsure what a documentor should do and what characteristics are needed for a good documentor.  A good documentor should be easy to work with, willing to keep quiet (ie, follow the role of content neutrality), have good handwriting, understand the situational terminology, be willing to work for you during the session, and understand the purpose and deliverable of the structured meeting notes.

 Good documentors can be found typically in three places:

  1. Trained session leaders frequently make strong documentors.  Supporting one another is also a good way for new session leaders to get cross-training.
  2. Project members from other, especially related projects.  These people understand the terminology and how notes get used (eg, input to requirements or design specs).  They must be chosen carefully because they need to remain quiet and cannot become involved with the discussions.
  3. New hire trainees or interns provide a win-win opportunity.  These people tend to work hard at being good documentors.  They frequently have enough background in terminology that they do not get lost in the discussions.

Be careful when selecting and training documentors.  Remember, if it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen!

How to Train Documentors?

The following steps provide a method for training documentors:

  1. Provide them a copy of your annotated agenda.  Walk through each of the agenda steps, their role, the volume of documentation you expect, and what to do with it.  Provide them with examples from prior workshops or deliverables to illustrate how their captured input will be used.  Examples can be from previous sessions or created by the session leader, preferably relying upon your metaphor.
  2. Documentors often feel intimidated when they see a bunch of templates and do not understand their purpose.  Explain the purpose of the deliverables from each question you intend to ask in the workshop.  Your FAST Reference Manual includes descriptions of the deliverables from each step in the workshop of the Cookbook Agendas.  Your note-taking tools should not get in the way of documentation.  Let them modify the format of note-taking if it is appropriate.
  3. Develop a picture of the final deliverable of the workshop.  You can use simple flow-chart or templates or arrows and icons to represent the final document structure.  This helps the documentor to move the note-taking out of the abstract into something concrete.
  4. Walk through the technique and methods with the documentor prior to the session to ensure that that their role is clearly understood—address any questions they have.
  5. Training does not end with the start of the workshop.  During the workshop, check with the documentor often to ensure that there are no problems and that the appropriate outputs are being properly documented.

For additional facilitative leadership support, see your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST Professional Facilitative Leadership training  session offered around the world (see for a current schedule).

Faciliter—”to render easy”

With this initial blog we have launched compelling content about the dynamic role of a facilitator into the interactive world of instant communications.  This blog site will anchor feeds to Linked-In, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Facebook, and potentially more than 300 other sites for seekers of improved leadership skills.

The challenges of modern/ facilitative leadership

Topics soon to appear include:

  • Precise questioning technique,
  • Rhetorical precision and the cost of a single word,
  • Speaker challenges,
  • The Tao of facilitation,
  • Turning your responsibility matrix into a GANTT chart, and
  • and some valuable review of current research and empirical studies

The first known use of the term occurred in France in 1611 (think Renaissance). At the time, the transition from the Latin adjective “facil” or easily accomplished or attained can be likened to the transliteration of Google from a noun into a verb.

Our purpose for this blog is similar, to make it easier for you to make it easier for others to make , explain issues and positions, create and understand options, and more informed decisions.

Our FAST+ curriculum has always defined the term “consensus” as a condition one can support and not lose any sleep over. We aspire to make it possible and easier for you to help others reach consensus while never yielding to the easy answer. Rather we intend to enable and empower you to help your groups create, innovate, and breakthrough the barriers of miscommunication, politics, and perceived intolerance.

Much depends on you and your attitude. By subscribing to this blog you will embrace the attitude of ongoing learning and improvement, the most effective attitude to be a facultative leader in this new millennium.  We look forward to your comments, replies, and subsequent challenges—and ask that you forward this material to all session leaders, even if they are not FAST+ certified facilitators.

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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