A Simple Agenda for Agreeing on Who Does What to Support an Articulate Purpose


Purpose

To support any type of descriptive or prescriptive build-out of a plan, process, or series of activities which can then be illustrated with a process flow diagram.

Rationale

Groups have a tendency to forget activities or events that occur less frequently, particularly infrequent or irregular activities that support planning and control. The following helps to squeeze out potential and costly omissions.

Simple Agenda

You may consider using this simple agenda with a brief discussion of the supporting method that follows:

  • Introduction
  • Purpose of __________ (topic, sphere, or business area)
  • Activities
    (NOTE: Take each “thing” from the purpose statement above and ask—“What do you do with this thing ?”—forcing “Verb-Noun”)
  • Sequencing
    (NOTE: Test for omissions using the Plan ➺ Acquire ➺ Operate ➺ Control prompting)
  • Value-Add
    (NOTE: eg, SIPOC)
  • Swimlanes
    (NOTE: eg, process flow diagram)
  • Wrap

Method

The developmental support steps are covered in depth in the FAST Professional Facilitative Leadership Manual. Here is a brief summary for your quick reference:

  • Determine the business purpose of the planning area, process topic, or functional sphere. Strongly suggest using the “Purpose is to . . . So that . . . “ tool.
  • Next is the first activity of the brainstorming method—List. Label the top of the flip chart with “VERB-NOUN” and ask the group to identify all the activities required to support the business purpose created in the prior step. Enforce the listing and capture them as verb-noun pairings only.
  • Use the Plan➠Acquire➠Operate➠Control life cycle prompt to help stimulate discussion about activities that are missing.
  • There needs to be at least one to two planning, one to two acquiring, bunches of operating, and at least one to two controlling activities for each business topic or scope of work.
  • After identifying the various activities (sometimes called “sub-processes” by others), convert the verb-noun pairings into “use cases” or some form of input-process-output. Build one use-case for each pairing.
  • Consider assigning SIPOC tables (a form of use cases) to sub-teams. SIPOC stands for the Source of the input, Input(s) required to complete the activity, Process (ie, our activity), Output resulting from the activity, and Customer or client of the output. Demonstrate one or two in entirety with the whole group and then separate the participants out into two or three groups.
  • For each activity (ie, verb-noun pairing), build a narrative statement that captures the purpose of the activity (ie, WHY) and HOW itis being performed, then:
    • Continue to identify the specific outputs or what changes as a result of having completed the activity.
    • Link the outputs with the customer or client of each; ie, who is using each output.
    • Next identify the inputs required to support the activity.
    • Finally identify the sources of the inputs.

An illustrative SIPOC chart is shown below based on a mountain climbing metaphor. The focal verb-noun pairing is “pack supplies”.

Illustrative SIPOC

Illustrative SIPOC

Summary of steps to be included in this sequence

  1. Identify the activity (ie, process) and its purpose and discuss WHY it is performed.
  2. Detail HOW it is or should be performed.
  3. List the outputs from the completed activity.
  4. Link the outputs to the respective clients or customers.
  5. List the inputs needed to complete the activity.
  6. Identify the source(s) for each of the inputs.

Success Keys

To build clear definition of “requirements”, provide a visual illustration or template. Additionally,

  • Have the group pre-build all the potential sources and customers of the process and code them so that when you build the SIPOC tables, the group can refer to the code letter/ number instead of the full name (thus substantially speeding up the method). As you discover new sources or customers, simply add them.
  • Learn to ‘shut up’ after asking questions and seek to understand rather than be understood.
  • Write down participant response immediately and fully.
  • Provide visual feedback, preferably through modeling.
  • Advance from activity identification to the inputs and outputs required to support the activity; then associate each with its sources and clients (SIPOC).
  • Separate the WHAT (ie, abstract) from the HOW (ie, concrete).

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.

When Quality Decision Making is Not Enough and Speed of Action is Required


According to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Martin Dempsey, “Power is no longer simply the sum of capability and capacity but now, disproportionately, it includes speed—speed of action but especially speed of decision making.” (source: WSJ, Voices on the Future)

Race Against Time

Race Against Time

For any consensual and well-informed decision however, consider at least seven agenda steps to ensure a FAST quality decision:

  • Introduction
  • Purpose of the scope or object of the situation
  • Options
  • Criteria
  • Decision
  • Testing
  • Review and wrap

Do not forget to begin with the purpose of the decision or you risk combative participants with competing purposes. Also begin with WHY the situation is valuable or important before you being your analysis or WHAT discussions.

Embrace the rules of ideation when capturing options—no discussion, high energy, etc. Set them aside and immediately develop an understanding of the decision criteria. General Dempsey added that “Countering the need for speed is often the paralyzing volumes of information, which often create an illusion of control and optimal decision making.” Here is why we rely on subject matter experts, to translate the volumes of information, into the most important considerations.

Most importantly, understand how you plan to scrub the criteria and what tool is most appropriate for your situation. In our FAST Professional Facilitative Leadership curriculum, we look various methods to galvanize consensus around decisions including:

Throughout the decision step, get the group to first deselect and agree on sub-optimal options so that the number of viable options is reduced, increasing the likelihood that the group will better focus on the best candidates. Do not allow any tool to make the decision for you, but allow tools to help you de-select.

For testing, take the decision and compare it with the purpose developed in the second step of the agenda. Determine to what extent the decision supports the purpose. If the harmony is strong, the meeting is over. If there are disconnects, revisit both the purpose statement and tentative decision with questions about clarity, omissions, and deletions, until you have developed a decision that the participants can “live with” meaning they will support it and not lose sleep over it, even if it is not their ‘favorite.’

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.

Sign the Charter for Compassion and Consider Becoming a Supporting Member


Charter for Compassion

Charter for Compassion

Ultimately, consensus-building requires intuition and a higher self to overcome the selfishness of physical and emotional demands. This week we became signatories with over 100,000 other people who have “Liked” the Charter for Compassion. We encourage you to do the same.

We are awaiting instructions to become Charter Members as an organization but meanwhile, for a quick blog and light summer reading, take a look at what they are aspiring towards, and use the hot links imbedded in this post to seek out further support and involvement on your behalf or the behalf of your organization.

The Charter for Compassion is a document that transcends religious, ideological, and national differences. Supported by leading thinkers from many traditions, the Charter calls on people to activate the Golden Rule around the world.

The text of the Charter for Compassion:

The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

We therefore call upon all men and women~to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion~to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate~to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity~to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.

We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.

The Charter has been translated into over 30 languages.

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.

Facilitating ‘Genetic’ Differences: Similar Values but Different Priorities


Most meeting participants embrace a similar set of values. The difference lies in their priority, or ranking of their values. Participants’ rankings however are not static. Their ranking shifts based on their perspective at the moment.

Hiring Characteristics as an Example

When selecting, interviewing, and hiring associates, most human relations experts would agree that five of the most important characteristics that are sought in new hires include (listed alphabetically):

  • Capacity (mental)
  • Integrity (moral)
  • Knowledge and Experience (physical)
  • Motivation (emotional)
  • Understanding (intellectual)

Traditional Prioritization

Facilitating Different Priorities

Facilitating Different Priorities

Frequently, Knowledge and Experience is used as the first filter to disqualify potential hiring candidates. Next Understanding, typically reflected by educational degrees, may be used to filter more desirable from less desirable candidates. Next, Capacity is tested, frequently using actual test instruments about personality, cognitivity, and comprehension. Integrity is then considered, including perhaps, background checks to verify information and uncover undisclosed facts. Finally, Motivation is considered, but generally accepted, since it is assumed that those seeking employment are motivated by monetary gain, at minimum. Arranged in sequence of priority, the characteristics would be rearranged as follows:

  1. Knowledge and Experience (physical)
  2. Understanding (intellectual)
  3. Capacity (mental)
  4. Integrity (moral)
  5. Motivation (emotional)

Potential Prioritization

For our purposes however, and contrary to the prioritization above, we would embrace the following prioritization when hiring a new associate:

  1. Integrity; because without integrity, all other actions are suspect at best, and dangerous at worst.
  2. Motivation; because without motivation, all other actions (or inactions) may be shallow.
  3. Capacity; because without mental capacity, actions may be blind.
  4. Understanding; because without understanding actions are impotent.
  5. Knowledge and Experience; lastly because without the attributes above, actions are misdirected or useless.

Note with the re-prioritization above, the complete reversal from Experience as number one to least important as number five. Participants with a bias toward the Traditional Prioritization will conflict, and make building consensus challenging when confronted by participants using the Potential Prioritization, or some other variation.

As a facilitator, what can you do about it? We’ll discuss the proper sequence for building consensus around conflicting prioritization in next week’s blog, The Three Steps to Conflict Resolution: Appeal to Purpose, Active Listening, and Enterprise Objectives.

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.

How to Manage Meeting Participants With Problems Without Embarrassing Them


People with Problems

The following is a table of the characteristics or people problems and some suggestions on how to deal with them.

NAME 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 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.
The Doubting Thomas Voiced skepticism, shrouded with genuine concern. Use the “What—So What—Now What” approach. They may be on to something significant.
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 participants
  2. 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 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.

Understanding the Method to Manage Meeting Participants with Problems


Politikos

The term ‘Politikos’ means ‘the science of people. You deal more ably with participants as you gain more experience. However, there is a certain degree of comfort in recognizing that there are some common patterns of behavior that are likely to occur.Keep one thing in mind however; participants cause problems only for a certain time. Often a participant causing a problem becomes productive in a different situation. Do not label people permanently.

Identifying Problems

You identify participants displaying problems because they generally disrupt the session. Sometimes, however, they don’t participate. When we say that a participant is displaying problems, we mean that their communication is ineffective because of some characteristic that gets in the way of communication, for example:

To deal with the people on the ends of the curve (ie, the outliers), assume that people have good intentions and focus your energy on discovering what is causing the difficulty. In other words, identify the problem—do not highlight the person(with the problem).

Praise in Public

Motivation of People

People are motivated by:

  • Need to control (power motivation)

o   They rebel against a loss of control.

o   Turf issues arise.

  • Need to excel (achievement motivation)

o   People don’t want to look bad in a group.

o   All participants are speaking publicly—public speaking scares many people.

  • Need to bond (affiliation motivation)

o   Attacks and win-lose situations affect participants’ ability or willingness to bond.

Managing Problems

Determine what is motivating a participant you are dealing with. Once you understand that, use the following sequence of guidelines in dealing with them.

  • First determine and correct the cause of the problem.
  • Mitigate the symptom if the cause cannot be corrected by:

o   Ground rules

o   Body position

o   Eye contact

o   Talking with the participant during a break

  • Enlist help from the business partner or executive sponsor.
  • Last resort—have the problem participant removed.

Exceptions

There are three exceptions to the rules above—the business or technical partner and the executive sponsor. None of these people can be removed. You cannot go over their heads to get additional help. For these participants you:

                        Partners            •     Set expectations before the session. Ensure that the partners know what they want—if not help them. Never argue with them in the workshop—they are your clients. Do not do their job.

                        Executive          •     The executive sponsor is most likely dominating. It is their job. If the session is not for policy, ask the executive to leave. If the session is policy, treat the others as if they are the problem (they are). Never allow the executive to dominate since they are but a participant in the meeting and all participants have an equal voice. Talk to the executive but always remain the process leader.

People Principles

Following are guiding principles for dealing with people (all based on “Treat others as you wish to be treated”):

  • Never embarrass people, especially in public.
  • People are creative if asked.
  • People are intrinsically reasonable.
  • People do not like to be blamed.
  • People have different goals in life.
  • People prefer the positive to the negative.
  • People share similar fears.

Managing Issues

Here are the tactics listed in order of priority and frequency of use for managing issues and personality challenges:

  • Interviews
  • Ground rules
  • Eye contact
  • Body Position
  • Take a break
  • Exercises

Note of Caution

Whenever you allow a win-lose situation to occur, you will cause problems. Latecomers, early leavers, dropouts, etc, are often manifestations of their anger at losing. Correct the win-lose situation to make all participants productive.

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.

Professional Facilitative Leadership and Facilitator Training for Structured Meetings and Workshops

FUD: Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt Amplify Fear but People Change Anyway


Paradigms

Paradigms are established accepted norms, patterns of behavior or shared set of assumptions. They are models that establish boundaries or rules for success. Paradigms may present structural barriers to creativity based on psychological, cultural, and environmental factors. Examples include:

  • Flow charts, diagrams, and other conventions for presenting information (eg, swim lane diagrams)

    More Similarities Than Differences

    More Similarities Than Differences

  • Stereotypes about men and women and their roles in business, family, and society
  • Where people sit in meetings—once they find a seat it becomes their seat for the rest of the meeting

Not All Bad

There are many more paradigms in life. Paradigms are not bad unless they become barriers to progress. People either understand paradigms or risk being left behind. What is impossible with one paradigm is easy with another—because “I didn’t know any better.” When paradigms change, everyone starts over.

Changing Paradigms

To cause groups to challenge and possibly modify their paradigms, do the following:

  • Ask the “Paradigm Shift” question—“What is impossible today, but if made possible . . . What would you do?”
  • Force the group to look at a familiar object or idea in a new way.
  • Use the “Five-year Old” routine—ask—“But why?” frequently, or until the group thoroughly discusses an issue, its assumptions and implications.
  • Develop a clear problem statementor use a problem such as the example provided below).

“An automobile traveling on a deserted road blows a tire. The occupants discover that there is no jack in the trunk. They define the problem as “finding a jack” and decide to walk to a station for a jack. Another automobile on the same road also blows a tire. The occupants also discover that there is no jack. They define the problem as “raising the automobile.” They see an old barn, push the auto there, raise it on a pulley, change the tire, and drive off while the occupants of the first car are still trudging towards the service station.”

            Getzels, J.W., Problem-finding and the inventiveness of solutions, 
Journal of Creative Behavior, 1975, 9(1), pp 12-18.

Shifting perspectives will frequently help “shake” paradigms. Consider using Edward de Bono’s Thinking Hats or imposing some other perspective or comparison such as:

  • A monastery compared to the “mafia”
  • Steve Jobs compared to Bill Gates
  • Ant colony compared to a penal colony
  • A weather system compared to a gambling system
  • Mother Teresa of Calcutta compared to Genghis Khan
  • Etcetera

People DO Change

Recent research (2007, Dyer) has proven that people do change. There is a quantum shift of values after twenty to thirty years of life.

Change occurs across both men and women, although their before and after values remain different. The shifts shown below occur after a relatively significant change in maturity, such as we find today with “empty nesters” or people that find themselves no longer hosting others, in particular, their children.

Note the implications for a facilitated session with people coming from all four categories shown below.

Men and Women Do Change

Men and Women Do Change

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.

The Way People Think Affects How You Intervene to Build Consensus


Differences

People think differently. As session leader, you empower participants and their ability to understand and communicate with each other. You also enable them to think creatively about their business. The following two subjects deal with the thinking patterns of people—horizontal/ vertical thinking and paradigms.

Horizontal/ Vertical

Participants in a workshop argue over a seemingly simple issue. Two people hear the same thing and react as if they each were in different meetings. Why? Because people interpret information differently. There are many theories about how people process information.

One theory states that the two spheres of the brain, the right and the left, govern our thinking with right brain or left brain thinking.

Another theory that explains the differences more clearly is Communicoding. This theory states that there are two modes of thinking for processing information, vertical and horizontal. These two modes of thinking may have a difficult time communicating with each other because the way that each perceives the world is different. What are they?

People Learn Differently

People Learn Differently

Vertical Thinker

A vertical thinker is often described as very logical, organized, and detail-oriented. Vertical thinkers:

  • Easily discern immediate dynamics of a problem.
  • Identify specific details and relate issues to reality.
  • Know what can be accomplished within a given time.
  • See barriers and obstacles to be removed.
  • Take the likely paths to reach results.
  • Work well in structured environments.

The vertical thinker’s main characteristic is that they find differences. Vertical thinkers can decompose something and design something new from the pieces. They work from exclusion.

Horizontal Thinker

A horizontal thinker is often described as far-sighted, innovative, and conceptual. Horizontal thinkers:

  • Easily discern the underlying dynamics of a problem.
  • Identify context details—relating issues to a larger perspective.
  • Know what impact can be achieved within a given context.
  • See possibilities and benefits to strive for.
  • Take the unlikely paths to reach results.
  • Work well in unstructured environments.

Horizontal thinkers’ main characteristic is that they find similarities. They are able to find the common thread—to make new associations among unrelated items. They work from inclusion.

To Identify

As a facilitator, you cannot change the way people think—andnever label participants. You do help the participants in a workshop learn to hear each other and to better understand their communication challenges. Clues that thinking differences are causing problems are:

  • One person arguing about the problems while another is focused on the benefits.
  • One person trying to get to the details while the other is trying to focus on the ideas.
  • People using the same words yet meaning something different or arguing as if they are saying something different.
  • Using different words that seem to be saying the same thing.

To Fix

When you hear communication problems consider the following:

  • Capture what each person is saying—write it on the flip charts without putting their names by the ideas.
  • Draw pictures using visual aids, flip charts, and models. By using visual support or other exercises, participants learn about their business.
  • Get the group to see both similarities and differences.
  • Move the focus of the group away from people and onto the 
issue(s) at hand.
  • Summarize both similarities and differences and get the group to decide what to do with them or move along to the next step.

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.

Do NOT Lead Another Meeting Without (at least) These Four Documents


There are four documents each meeting leader must ensure:

  1. Pre-Read
  2. Annotated Agenda
  3. Slide Deck
  4. Output Notes

Pre-Read

Your participants need to show up at your meeting prepared and ready to contribute. Do not assume they will. Lead them. Provide them a compelling pre-read. It should include at least the components shown below. If your pre-read is a large document, then provide a personalized cover letter asking each subject matter expert to focus on topics and pages that you have highlighted for their benefit (to spare them the obligation and time of reading the entire packaged):

Participants' Package  (Pre-read)

Participants’ Package
(Pre-read)

Meeting Purpose, Scope, Deliverables, and Simple Agenda

EVERY meeting, even a one-hour session, needs to have an articulate purpose, boundaries (ie, scope), and either well codified outputs or a generally described outcome documents. The deliverables (or output/ outcome) describe what done looks like when the session ends. A description of the deliverables describes where the group is headed during the meeting. The agenda, hopefully structured (NOT simply a ‘discussion’; a term closely related to ‘percussion’ and ‘concussion’), shows the group how it is going to get to the deliverable, or the end of the session.

Questions to be Addressed

If you want your participants to show up prepared, help them. Agree in advance (optimally through private interviews) what questions ought be raised during your session and have them prepare response before the meeting begins. Confirm with them the validity of the questions and obtain their feedback about questions you may wish to add that your participants deem important, and perhaps missing from your original list of questions. Consider the most important reason for meetings—building consensual answers to questions important to the group.

Mission, Value, and Vision

When arguments arise, active listening should be used first to avoid people, who unknowingly, may be in violent agreement with each other. When active listening fails, sometimes due to the stubbornness of participants, an appeal must be made to WHY the meeting is being held. No one wants more meetings; they only want results that accelerate projects and activities that occur after the meeting. To reconcile arguments, be prepared to appeal to the objectives of the project, program, business unit, or enterprise that your meeting supports.

Glossary of Terms

You cannot afford to allow arguments about the meaning of terms you use and build into your preparatory efforts. For example, to some you will discover that Goals are fuzzy statements and Objectives are SMART. To others, the opposite is true. To some, Mission is why they show up and Vision is where they are going. To others, it is the opposite. Standardize your operational definitions, share them, and enforce consistent use and interpretation.

Space for Participants’ Note-taking

As a kind gesture, provide some extra space for them to take notes. It will be appreciated.

Your Personal, Annotated Agenda

Your detailed methods should be built as if you were there visualizing every step in advance. Include break out teams, team names and members, CEOs (ie, Chief Easel Operators), but most importantly, detail how you will analyze their input (ie, second activity of Brainstorming). Our typical annotated agenda runs 20 pages long, even for a three-hour session.

Slide Deck

Provide the participants copies of the slides you use, and do not forget to include operational definitions. You don’t need our help here since this is what you do best; ie, create decks.

Output Notes

Meeting notes are a snap once you have a solid pre-read, annotated agenda, and slide deck.   Simply drop in the content developed during the meeting alongside the content provided by your pre-read, annotated agenda, and slide; and you are ready to call it good. Congratulations.

NOTE

Which of these four documents can you afford to skip? None of them of course, unless you avoid death by PowerPoint and spare them the deck by referring to content you already provided in the pre-read.

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.

10 Tips for Better Interactive Listening: It’s Not How You Act but How You React


For meeting participants to own the solution, they must also own the problem. To be more effective as facilitator, drop the first person singular terms “I” and “me”, stop offering solutions to ‘their’ problem, and quit judging and evaluating their contributions personally. Rather, challenge them to make their thinking clearer, such as:

1. Ask open questions to start information flow:

Interactive Listening

Interactive Listening

  • “Tell us more about . . .”
  • “Give us a better description about . . .”

2. Body Language:

  • Eye Contact
  • Involved Posture:
    • lean forward
    • don’t fold arms
    • avoid cold shoulder
  • Use pleasant, encouraging facial expression.
  • Use skeptical expressions only to gain clarification, but beware: they can impede information flow.
  • Smile

3. Use neutral encouragement:

  • “Hmmmm”
  • “Interesting”
  • “Really?”
  • “No kidding?”
  • “Wow”
  • “OK

4. Challenge with add-on comments, comparisons, analogies:

  • “How is that different than the (XYZ deal)?”
  • “Sounds like trying to hold off the flood by putting your finger in the dike . . .”

5. Clarification Questions:

  • “Explain more about . . .”
  • “Restate that as if you were speaking to your grandmother.”
  • “Do you mean (insert reflective comment)?”
  • “What is different between (this) and (that)?”
  • “How will that impact . . .?”
  • “Huh?”

6. Conclude comments and conversation with a summary:

  • At the end of the conversation, summarize the important points and ask for confirmation that you understood the other party, not that you necessarily agreed with everything said.
  • “We apparently have agreed on the following course of action . . .”
  • “Your position on the matter was . . .”

7. Don’t debate the issue:

  • Listen intently while the other person talks. Focus on understanding the other person’s point of view so that you can provide thorough reflection.

8. Restate and ask for confirmation:

  • “Let’s ensure that we understand that correctly. You said that…”

9. Silence or Minimal Speaking:

  • Silence lasting three to five seconds will encourage the other person to say more.
  • Defer to other participants
  • Practice saying “no, go ahead.”
  • Avoid interrupting:
    • Interrupt only to ask clarification questions or to increase momentum through a quick comment. Don’t change the subject without announcing your intention to do so.

10. Take Notes:

  • Note taking usually honors the speaker and encourages information flow.
  • Take notes, not dictation; stay in the conversation; maintain eye contact.
  • Note taking may impede information flow however, and some speakers may not
 want a written record of their comments on sensitive issues.

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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