To Become a Better Facilitator, STOP Using the First Person Singular


Today’s message is simple and quick, yet critical. STOP using the words “I” and “me”. The meeting is not about you; it is about the meeting participants.

We literally have had students that manage saying “I” more than twelve times in one minute. Examples across numerous samples include:

Stop Putting the Focus on You

Stop Putting the Focus on You

  • “I am going to . . .”
  • “I believe . . .”
  • “I can agree . . .”
  • “I can see it both ways . . .”
  • “I expect . . . ”
  • “I got it.”
  • “I like it . . .”
  • “I like that one . . .”
  • “I need . . .”
  • “I need your input . . .”
  • “I propose . . .”
  • “I see . . .”
  • “I see nodding . . .”
  • “I think . . .”
  • “I think we have . . .”
  • “I want . . .”
  • “I would like . . .”
  • “I’d like you to help me . . .”
  • “I’ll talk about . . .”
  • “I’m hearing . . .”
  • “I’m very interested in . . .”
  • “What I would like you to do . . .”
  • “What I’d like to do . . .”
  • “What I’d like to do now is . . .”

Or, using a first person variant:

  • “Sounds to me . . .”
  • “My thoughts . . .”
  • “Can you tell me . . .”
  • “Tell me . . .”
  • “Help me . . .”
  • “My meeting . . .”

Our favorites are in bold font (“Help me”) since we are led to believe that the reason for engaging a facilitator is to help us (participants). Simply use integrative rhetoric, substituting the plural “we” or “us” such as “We need . . .” or “We are going to . . .”

Also stay vigilant also about saying “Thank-you” too often. Optimally, you should probably never say “Thank-you”, but we understand the need for you to be natural as well. However, if you are constantly thanking participants for their contributions, who does it appear the deliverable is built to serve? Transferring ownership of the meeting output begins with integrative and pluralistic rhetoric. Avoid the colloquial and stay conscious. After all, you should be there to serve them, not the other way around.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiatives, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need to lead more effective groups, teams, and meetings.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. 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 numerous 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Methodological Awareness About Deming’s 14 Points of Continuous Improvement


Every minute somewhere, someone refers to Deming’s term SMART (ie, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Based). Lesser known and frequently copied and modified we are now sharing his philosophy of continuous improvement. True to his words, Deming continually modified the wording of his 14 points of continuous improvement.

For quick, late-summer reading we are reminding you with our modified summary of the 14 points. You will discuss an excellent discussion of them in Chapter 2 of Out of the Crisis, by W. Edwards Deming, MIT Press, 2000; originally published in 1982.

A few are counter-intuitive but you decide. Take what you like and leave the rest.

Continuous Improvement Pays for Itself

Continuous Improvement Pays for Itself

  1. Provide for the long-range needs of the company; don’t focus on short-term profitability. The goal is to grow the business and add value.
  2. The world constantly changes, and managers need to adopt their way of thinking. Delays, mistakes, defective workmanship, and poor service are never acceptable.
  3. Quit depending on inspections to find defects, and build quality into products and processes as they are built. Use statistical process control to minimize biases.
  4. Do not choose suppliers on the basis of pricing (eg, low bids) alone. Minimize total cost by establishing long-term relationships with suppliers that are based on loyalty and trust.
  5. Work continually to improve customer delivery and service. Improvement is not a one-time effort; every activity in the process must be continually improved to reduce waste and improve quality.
  6. Institute training. Managers should know about modern leadership and be able to train workers to become future leaders. Managers also need training to understand the processes of production, delivery, and customer satisfaction.
  7. Institute leadership. Managers ought help people do a better job and remove barriers that keep them from doing their job with pride. The greatest waste in America is failure to use the abilities of people.
  8. Drive out fear. People need to feel secure in order to do their job well. There should never be a conflict between doing what is best for the company and meeting the expectations of their immediate job.
  9. Break down barriers between departments. Create cross-functional teams so everyone can understand the others’ perspective. Do not undermine team cooperation by rewarding individual performance.
  10. Stop using slogans, exhortations, and targets. It is the process, not the workers, that creates defects and lowers productivity. Exhortations don’t change the system; that is management’s responsibility.
  11. Eliminate numerical quotas for workers and numerical goals for people in management. Eliminate arbitrary deadlines for development teams that are management by fear. Embrace facilitative leadership.
  12. Eliminate barriers that rob people of their pride of workmanship. Stop treating hourly workers like a commodity. Eliminate annual performance ratings for salaried workers.
  13. Encourage education and self-improvement for everyone. An educated workforce and management will propel profits in the future.
  14. Take action to accomplish transformation. A top management team must lead the effort with action, not simply ‘support’ it.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiatives, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need to lead more effective groups, teams, and meetings.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. 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 numerous 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.

Understand the Value of Argumentation for Organizational Decision-making


A strong facilitator will improve their critical thinking. They ought understand the holarchial nature of business and other people organized around common cause. Critical thinking helps structure discussions so that groups of people can get more done, faster.

In 1962, when Thomas Watson (CEO of IBM) was helping IBM reach their pinnacle, he said:

“I firmly believe that any organization, in order to survive and achieve success, must have a sound set of beliefs on which it premises all its policies and actions.  I believe that the most important single factor in corporate success is faithful adherence to those beliefs.  To meet the challenges of changing world, it must be prepared to change everything about itself except those beliefs as it moves through corporate life.”

He asserted that beliefs for IBM included (for illustrative purposes only):

  1.  Respect the individual.
  2.  Provide the best customer service of any company in the world.
  3.  Drive for superiority in all things.

While “beliefs” serves as a synonym for values or guiding principles, when answered coherently, the four questions below drive consistent decision-making from “the board room to the boiler room” (METZ).

  • Why are we here?  (Mission)
  • Who are we?   (Guiding Principles)
  • Where are we going?   (Vision)
  • What are the units of measurement to guide our progress?  (Goals, Objectives, and Considerations)

They should not be constructed simply because MBA textbooks say so.  Rather, they should be collaboratively built so that everyone in the organization can make appropriate trade-offs in daily decision-making.

Starting Points

Organizations, especially businesses, have developed elaborate processes around knowledge management. Among the spheres of knowledge are accepted facts, presumptions, assumptions, and probabilities (listed in order of general acceptance). Without starting points, argumentation is not possible. Conversely, the greater the shared starting points, the easier it is to galvanize consensus. Starting points are used as support for further claims, normally claims that associated with change and a call to action.

Argumentation Relies on Facts, Presumptions, Assumptions, and Probabilities

Argumentation Relies on Facts, Presumptions, Assumptions, and Probabilities

Facts

Facts may be generally construed as observations, calculations, evidence, and other empirical knowledge derived from observation or experience over which there is no controversy. For example, the evening sun sets in the west. Chocolate truffles are more expensive dirt. Yet acceptable facts will change from group to group.

Presumptions

With lesser certainty, presumptions are held as the basis for many claims. For example, children are less able to care for themselves than adults. Presumptions are subject to challenge and may be overthrown. Some people even begin their arguments with presumptions they know to be false, simply to get the conversation going. Presumptions are relied upon heavily in legal actions and frequently require additional ‘burden of proof.’ A key value of group decision-making is the ability for groups to more thoroughly challenge and disrupt unsound presumptions by providing facts or observations of times and places when the presumptions are false.

Assumptions

While a presumption represents something you think is generally true, but not always true, an assumption is something believed to be true, with less certainty than a presumption. The difference can be subtle. When you have certain set ideas about some things, they are also presumptions. Keep in mind that presumptions are more authoritative than assumptions.

An excellent comparison from The Write Source by Liz Bureman follows:

“For example, since I just watched The Hunger Games for the first time (the original, not the sequel) , I presumed that I would enjoy it. I had never seen the movie before (I know, I know, I’m way behind the times), but I have read the books, and I enjoyed them. Since I enjoyed the books, the presumption that I would enjoy the movie was an easy one to make.

However, I assume that the actors read the books before starting work on the film. I have no idea if Jennifer Lawrence actually read the trilogy before taking on the role of Katniss, although I’m sure a Google search could clear that up, but right now, that is a pure assumption, since I have no proof or knowledge that would lead me to think that would be the case.”

Probabilities

With lesser certainty, probabilities are assembled with a combination of facts, presumptions, and assumptions about some future condition. Such beliefs are frequently held, whether clear or not, during most arguments. Probabilities may even be assigned percentages and are reflected when you hear words such as “Likely”, “Almost certainly”, “Probably”, and “Maybe”.

Summary

Since many business arguments involve probabilities, an effective facilitator needs to make the thinking visible behind modifiers such as “likely”. Discover the conditions under which the probability is increased or decreased to get a group more rapidly accept the algorithm leading to the probability. Seek to have them articulate a range of possibilities rather than fixed numbers. Consider capturing three placeholders such as best case, worst case, and most likely. Always use your critical thinking to examine the basis of facts, presumptions, assumptions, and probabilities and help the group understand what components may cause their arguments to fortify or to become frail.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiatives, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need to lead more effective groups, teams, and meetings.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. 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 numerous 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 Transform Challenging Personality Types During Meetings & Workshops


Meeting leaders and facilitators frequently encounter challenging personality types, from the over-bearing to the drop out. The following table captures some clearly identified types, their characteristics or symptoms you may observe, and what you can do to prevent distractions, keep your group focused, and complete on time.

Managing Personality Types During Meetings

Managing Personality Types During Meetings

TYPE 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
(Monopolizers) 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.
Negative Nancy Voiced skepticism, shrouded with genuine concern. Use the “What—So What—Now What” tool. They may know something significant. Meet them privately before the meeting.
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 participants2.     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 initiatives, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need to lead more effective groups, teams, and meetings.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. 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 numerous 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.

Here Are Two Effective Five-Minute Icebreakers for Large Groups


All groups, especially very large groups, are known to perform better when the participants know something about each other. While time constraints prohibit traditional, self-spoken icebreakers with large groups (eg, 60 people for two minutes each burns two hours), some time for social bonding remains effective. Consider the following, simple, easy, and quick approach when working with very large groups, even hundreds of people, to instill a broader sense of group consciousness and networking.

Getting to Know One Another

Getting to Know One Another

The simple rule requires participants to stand when they can answer ‘affirmative’ to one of your pre-built questions. For example, “Stand up if you had to fly to get here.”

Other questions that capture but a small sliver of potential questions you might ask include:

  • Stand up if you have worked for this organization for five years.
    • Keep standing if ten years, twenty, etc.
  • Stand up if you have one pet.
    • Keep standing if you have two pets, three pets, etc.
  • Stand up if you were born in another country (or state, or city)?
  • Stand up if you lived in another country for more than one year?
    • Keep standing if five years, ten, etc.
  • Stand up if you love music? Country? Jazz? Classical? Rap?
  • Stand up if you have a tattoo
    • Keep standing if you have two, three, five, etc.
  • Stand up if you have ever broken a bone.
  • Stand up if your favorite James Bond actor is Sean Connery.
    • Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, Timothy Dalton, Daniel Craig . . .
  • Stand up if you drive a Volvo.
    • BMW, Ford, Mercedes, etc.

Also consider bifurcating your group to create some healthy tension. The “Would You Rather?” approach generates high energy, even among people that presumably know each other quite well. This approach can also be used with smaller groups. For example,

  • Would you rather beableto be invisible, or
    • Able to read others’ minds?
  • Would you rather live without music, or
    • Live without television?
  • Would you rather be four feet tall, or
    • Eight feet tall?
  • Would you rather have a Texan accent and live in New York City, or
    • Have a New York accent and live in Texas?
  • Would you rather marry your first boyfriend/ girlfriend, or
    • Someone your parents choose for you?
  • Would you rather be granted the answer to any three questions, or
    • Be granted the ability to resurrect one person?
  • Would you rather always show up 20 minutes late for everything, or
    • Always show up 90 minutes early for everything?
  • Would you rather work for your oldest sibling, or
    • Your best friend?
  • Live in a home without electricity, or
    • Running water?

Have some fun and create your own. These work with large groups because the directions are short and simple, as long as everyone can hear the requirements to standing up. In our experience, everyone will quickly quiet down and pay attention so they know when they are supposed to stand. You can also interject some of your personality, or a preview of the days’ events based on your questions. Write back to us about your experience and suggestions when using icebreakers with large groups.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiatives, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need to lead more effective groups, teams, and meetings.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. 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 numerous 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 to Include in a Workshop Participants’ Package for a Major Initiative


Besides understanding the difference between his or her meeting roles and project or work roles, provide each participant with a participant handout or pre-read package. At launch or kickoff or any major inflection points, consider binding a package with spiral edging across the top of your inserts because it is unique and easier for left-handed note takers.

Following are some items to consider when constructing your participants package:

A Powerful Pre-read

A Powerful Pre-read

  • Written purpose, scope, and deliverables of the workshop along with a simple agenda for the current session
  • Lexicon or glossary of terms; especially any terms that are used in the purpose, scope, and deliverables statements mentioned in the item above
  • Enterprise and business unit strategic planning support; especially the mission, values, visions, and objectives (ie, key measurements)
  • Team charter (ie, Management Perspective or framing document) or additional detail about the project being supported by the meeting or workshop
  • Sponsor’s letter of invitation—organizational and/ or enterprise strategic plan
  • Team members’ contact information (consider photographs when preparing for a meeting with virtual participants)
  • Relevant reading or support materials gathered during the interviews or from the project or adjunct project teams
  • List of questions to be addressed during the meeting or workshop
  • Responsibilities or expectations of the participants; including any overnight assignments, reading, or exercises that may be part of multi-day workshop

The sequence of the items above is shown in order of priority. No meeting or workshop can arrive at consensual agreement if the participants cannot agree at first on the purpose, scope, and deliverables of the meeting. Next, consensual understanding about what those terms mean must be controlled and not facilitated. Third, knowing how the balance of the organization depends on the success of this meeting and its contributions (ie, deliverable) must be established to create a sense of importance and urgency. The balance of the items may be considered optional, but optimal.

We also recommend that you provide each participant with a cover letter. When “relevant reading material” is assembled, frequently it contains so much bulk that many participants don’t look at it until the meeting commences. Rather, attach a cover letter to each participant stipulating which pages are essential for them to read based on their ability to make significant contributions.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiatives, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need to lead more effective groups, teams, and meetings.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. 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 numerous 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 Develop the Basis for a Successful Meeting or Workshop in Four Easy Steps


Purpose

This activity establishes the program purpose, project scope, session (ie, meeting or workshop) deliverables, and potential participants.

Develop the Basis in Four Easy Steps

Develop the Basis in Four Easy Steps

Method

Do the following:

  1. Write down your deliverable and strive to Get Examples! Deliverables illustrate the required documentation and needed information. What are we producing? Show participants examples if available. Compare with the enterprise strategic plan to help reconcile tradeoffs in the decision-making process.
  2. Quantify impact from the meeting on the program and articulate the project scope. Identify the level of detail desired, the type of session (planning, problem solving, design, etc.), and what to accomplish in the workshop. Understand what might be excluded (due to scope); or what the purpose and scope are NOT.
  3. Identify and compose the steps that enable you to organize the known information, identify the missing information, and produce the deliverables identified previously. Rely on your organization’s methodology or life cycle. The best sources for your draft method are (in order of preference):
    • Proprietary or in-house life cycle
    • Team charter, prior work, or FAST cookbook agendas
    • Experience—look at past successful workshops (or CoP; ie, community of practice), ask, “What questions need to be answered to satisfy the purpose of the workshop?” Consider the Single-Question tool approach.
    • Talk to the project manager, technical partner (ie, the methodologist), or other organizational experts.
    • Go to a library or bookstore but do NOT rely on Google®.

THE THREE STEPS ABOVE YIELD A STRAW MODEL OR SIMPLE MEETING OR WORKSHOP AGENDA.

For Lean or Agile also consider

– Existing enterprise systems or processes (life cycle)

– Architecture infrastructure (consider drafting a baseline architectural pattern)

– Scoping/ phasing (what high level information is known)

– Consider existing process models, high level ERD, and actors’ security/ policy

  1. Identify the most appropriate participants. Identify what knowledge or expertise each needs to bring to the workshop. Determine how much of the agenda the participants understand and can reasonably complete in a group environment. Identify what issues they have—do they need team building or creativity or some management of behavior? Find someone who will provide resistance at the meeting so that you can learn to anticipate challenges that will develop. You may not want to avoid the issues because they need to surface; however, you do not want to be surprised or caught off guard.

Walk through the steps to see if you can produce the desired results with the proposed participants. Do the steps allow the group to build on prior work without jumping around? Are the steps logical? Will the deliverables be comprehensive?

NOTE: Identify the known information at the start of the proposed workshop. Some information was probably built before this workshop. It may be output from prior workshops. It may be planning or scope documents. This information should only be reviewed and not built from scratch, if acceptable.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiatives, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need to lead more effective groups, teams, and meetings.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. 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 numerous 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.

Appreciative Inquiry: How to create an evolutionary path to the future


Purpose

Organizations seeking to make a major change in HOW they work may consider using Appreciative Inquiry (AI) to help evaluate viewpoints and create an evolutionary path to the future. AI leverages brainstorming, prioritizing, sub-teams, and various other tools we’ve discussed elsewhere, putting them in the context of “study and exploration of what gives life to human systems when they function at their best.” (see Whitney, The Power of Appreciative Inquiry)

Explore the Possibilities

Explore the Possibilities

Method

The AI approach provides a detailed prescriptive path of information gathering and documentation. It requires training and mentoring to learn it and conduct it well. Consider the AI approach as a facilitator when you have been properly trained—and a far-reaching organizational change is sought. The four phases are known as the 4-D model. Once the scope has been isolated, or perhaps assumed as in the case of many non-governmental organizations (NGO), the phases include:

  1. Discovery—search and illuminate those factors that give life to the organization, the “best of what is” in any given situation.
  2. Dream—dream about what could be.
  3. Design—design the future through dialogue, finding common ground by sharing discoveries and possibilities and debating.
  4. Destiny—construct the future through innovation and action.

Comments

AI emphasizes an appreciative view of what has been true in the past (eg, successes, assets, etc) as a natural basis for fundamental change. It encourages a thorough, diligent, and open exploration of what could be true for the organization, once freed from judgment or prejudice.

This method values collaboration at the expense of command-control environments, making it highly amenable to technological change. Its workshops can span from two days to two weeks, or longer. They rely on most of the tools we have discussed in other blogs and on the FAST curriculum, but you are well advised to consider a professional who specializes in AI or can be made readily available as a mentor.

Appreciative inquiry recognizes that inquiry and change are occurring simultaneously. Inquiry catalyzes change—the things people think and talk about, the things people discover and learn, and the things that inform dialogue and inspire action—are implicit in the questions we ask. See authors Whitney and Watkins for additional reading.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiatives, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need to lead more effective groups, teams, and meetings.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. 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 numerous 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.

Values Answer, “Who are we?” and Benjamin Franklin Called Them Virtues


We always find it interesting that consulting firms promulgate their own, unique operational definitions. The term ‘values’ can be found called many things including “Guiding Principles”, “Tenets of Operation”, “Virtues”, “Essential Elements”, etc. Generally, they all describe answers to the basic questions:

  • “Who are we?”
  • “What do we value?”
  • “What do we carry with us?”
  • “What weighs us down?”
  • “How do we make trade-offs?”
  • “How will we treat each other?”
  • “How will we work together (in support of our mission)?”

For our purpose, values are narrative descriptions of policies and philosophies. They provide one- or two-sentence descriptions about the principles or internal rules, laws, policies, and philosophies of the business.

“Values are ideals that give significance to our lives, that are reflected through the priorities we choose, and that we act on consistently and repeatedly.” —Brian Hall, PhD, Author of the Hall-Tonna Values Inventory

We find it interesting that many personal values are rarely reflected in corporate standards, temperance or cleanliness as examples. Here are the truncated values of one of the 18th century people who strongly influenced the nature of his country, before it became a country, Mr. Benjamin Franklin.

Cleanliness as a Value

Cleanliness as a Value

  1. TEMPERANCE: Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  2. SILENCE: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  3. ORDER: Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  4. RESOLUTION: Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  5. FRUGALITY: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; ie, waste nothing.
  6. INDUSTRY: Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. SINCERITY: Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly a method for progressing.
  8. JUSTICE: Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  9. MODERATION: Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  10. CLEANLINESS: Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
  11. TRANQUILLITY: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  12. CHASTITY: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
  13. HUMILITY: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiatives, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need to lead more effective groups, teams, and meetings.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. 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 numerous 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.

Meetings Generate Outcomes While Workshops Create Outputs


Use of the term “workshop” is frequently considered synonymous with the term “meeting.” Yet five practical differences include:

  1. Meetings consist of loosely related topics that serve to review and monitor, inform, and sometimes endorse (or decide). Participants during meetings are commonly passive while workshops demand their contributions and activity. Meetings result in an updated state of affairs or condition, while workshops create tangible deliverables oractual ‘things.’

    Workshops Demand Participation

    Workshops Demand Participation

  2. The agenda steps in a meeting are frequently boxed in time. With most workshop activity, front-end loading frequently makes it easier to complete the back-end steps and activities. Therefore, for most workshop activities, we approximate time but allow groups additional time to fully develop their consensual assumptions up-front, when it matters most.
  3. Regularly held meetings (ie, staff meetings or board meetings) end when time runs out, usually with an understanding that unfinished items will be picked up in the next meeting. When groups are building toward a workshop deliverable, the sequence of the steps is important and they frequently cannot leap ahead or advance until the foundation work is complete.
  4. Meeting leaders may not be expected to be entirely neutral. Effective leaders will learn to embrace the importance of meeting neutrality and active listening but when required, they may be forced to render an opinion or a decision. Workshop leaders should strive every way possible to avoid offering up content, knowing that the participants must own and live with their decision. Workshop leaders risk total failure if they violate neutrality by stepping on content.
  5. Workshops tend to last longer than meetings. While the average meeting may last an hour or two, the average workshop may take a few days or even a few sessions with multiple days.

Caution

Due to time, participant availability, and meeting real estate space constraints, much workshop activity today may be spread across multiple weeks, turning a potentially natural, multiple-day workshop into regular multiple-week “meetings.” The structural difference between concurrent-day and concurrent-week approaches is that the break periods between activities are longer with the concurrent or multiple week approach.

The session leader needs to be aware of workshop deliverables that are hidden in the term “meeting.” Simply because an event is being called a meeting or lasts for only an hour or two, does not give the session leader the right to show up unprepared or to become a judge of others, their input, and their opinions.

Legacy

The FAST curriculum contains the information and guidelines necessary for a FAST facilitator to effectively conduct both meetings and workshops. FAST originally stood for Facilitated Application Specification Technique. We promise not to say that again. Think of FAST as the opposite of slow.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiatives, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need to lead more effective groups, teams, and meetings.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. 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 numerous 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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