10 Excellent Guidelines for Students & Teachers: Justice, Peace, & Delight


Found the ten rules below and had to share, especially Rule Eight.  Since most of us play many roles in life, all of us at one time or another are student, teacher, parent, child, etc., thought you would appreciate them as well.

John Cage, an avant-garde musical composer inspired Sister Corita Kent. As an unlikely ‘regular’ in the Los Angeles art scene, the nun was an instructor at Immaculate Heart College and a celebrated artist who considered Saul Bass, Buckminster Fuller and Cage to be personal friends.

In 1968, she crafted the lovely, touching Ten Rules for Students and Teachers for a class project. While Cage was quoted directly in Rule 10, he didn’t come up with the list, as many website sites claim. By all accounts, though, he marveled at the list.

Sr Corita Kent

Sr Corita Kent

RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for a while.

RULE TWO: General duties of a student: Pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.

RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher: Pull everything out of your students.

RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.

RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined: this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.

RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.

RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.

RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.

RULE TEN: We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.

HINTS:

  • Always be around.
  • Come or go to everything.
  • Always go to classes.
  • Read anything you can get your hands on.
  • Look at movies carefully, often.
  • Save everything, it might come in handy later.

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.

Three New FAST Tips to Help You Before, During, and After Your Meetings


Materials not found in prior FAST Reference Manuals that can augment your own Facilitator’s Handbook are provided below. If you have not compiled your personal handbook or archive folder, do so now. Consider keeping prior annotated agendas, a master glossary, handouts and slides, and evaluation summaries. Continuously improve your annotated agendas and emphasize detailed support for the steps you frequently facilitate in workshops and meetings; such as brainstorming, requirements gathering, decision making, prioritization, and so on. Reflect on the organizational culture as to when a certain tools works best, or fails. Your handbook ought be dynamic, useful, and powerful.

Before Meetings

As part of your pre-read, or selectively used to support your meeting ground rules, here are some specific Participant Behavior guidelines you may want to use (listed alphabetically):

  • Caution with voice inflections that may indicate disdain or an otherwise counterproductive attitude
  • Commit to decisions that are made
  • Let each person speak without interruption
  • Share in accepting post-meeting assignments
  • Stay on topic and agenda, begin and end on time
  • Stay until the end of the meeting and stay in the room
  • Welcome conflict but separate issues from personalities

During Meetings

Especially when time constrained, encourage participants to share their message as if they were delivering results to someone’s voicemail   An alternative way for some to visualize this mandate encourages responses that would fit on a single 4 * 6 notecard. Have them use the notecard as the scripting for the voicemail, capturing the main points. Encourage them to get to the answer or main point with the second sentence.

After Meetings

Meeting Evaluation Tool

Meeting Evaluation Tool

Our curriculum shares some variants of a Plus-Delta and a more robust annotated evaluation template that assesses the effectiveness of the meeting and your own performance. An approach that fits between the two is shown below. It provides numerical feedback but relies on three questions and optional, anecdotal feedback. The questions shown are solid, but also illustrative. Do not hesitate to substitute questions that more valuable for you, relying on a similar format. With this format, you can print two per sheet, reducing the ‘visual burden’ on your participants as well.

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.

Substitute for these 15 Vague Verbs an Effective Facilitator Should Avoid


As you improve your meeting leadership skills, constantly endeavor to listen to yourself. We know about the importance of NOT NEVER EVER using the term “I” after the Introduction has been completed. After all, it is not about you, it is about them. It is OK to use the plural and integrative first person however, including ‘we’ and ‘us.’

There are some additional words, here focused on verbs, which lend themselves to being DUMB. Remember DUMB stands for Dull, Ubiquitous, Myopic, and Broad—in other words, vague. Because the terms below are vague, participants can interpret them based on their individual meaning and perspective—the opposite of consensual understanding.

Keep in mind the following should be directed at participants and do not represent actions that are undertaken by the facilitator. These terms are typically put in the form of a challenge, such as an action plan for the participants. Monitor your choice of using the following words and note the supporting rationale:

Avoid Vague, Abstract, and DUMB Verbs

Avoid Vague, Abstract, and DUMB Verbs

  1. Administer—Really? How are you going to do that?
  2. Assure—What is the action that provides the assurance?
  3. Consult—Here we have a contronym. Are you giving or receiving something?
  4. Develop—This requires an entire life cycle of discrete activities.
  5. Ensure—Given the many things we have no control over, how will you do this?
  6. Establish—An early process in most life cycles, requiring multiple steps or activities. What are they?
  7. Expedite—Simply substitute HOW are you going to do this?
  8. Follow-up—FAST provides three tools for doing this, each with multiple activities that are stipulated separately.
  9. Implement—Another life cycle term that begs for clear detail.
  10. Investigate—A life cycle by itself that will require multiple activities.
  11. Manage—Probably the most abused of all terms (outside of consult). Twelve people will interpret what ‘manage’ means, a few dozen different ways.
  12. Monitor—Classic. Sound good, but HOW are you going to do this?
  13. Observe—Face-to-face? Secondary information? Third-hand hearsay?
  14. Perform—Do you mean act? If so, what action will be taken?

We do not expect you to memorize these terms, so strive to understand the logic. Verbs to avoid are not only vague, they are abstract. Participant-friendly terms are more active and tend towards the concrete. For example, it is easier to visualize someone “telling” someone else, rather than “collaborating.”

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.

If You Want More Productive Meetings, Do Not Fail During Your Meeting to . . .


No one wants another meeting, especially a non-productive session. To ensure that your meetings are anticipated, respected, and more productive than the meeting your participants came from or the meeting they are headed to next, do the following, at minimum (listed chronologically):

Avoid Meeting Obstacles

Avoid Meeting Obstacles

  • Start on Time
    Do not penalize people who are on time by waiting for people who are late. Few irritants get a meeting started poorly than a wavering start time. Ask participants to notify you in advance if they might be late. If they arrive late, do NOT consume others’ time by reviewing what has transpired. If an update is required, pair them off with someone else and ask them to go in the hallway to provide an update.
  • Document
    If it was not documented then it did not happen. Meetings without documentation suggest that nothing worthwhile happened. Optimally, add context and rationale for why topics are covered or decisions make. Take any decision to a steering team or decision review board and their first challenge will be “Why?” Carefully leave a paper trail for the reasons.
  • Time Sensitivity
    While participants should typically share a few laughs, real meeting success is judged by finishing on time, or better yet, ahead of schedule. Be careful about taking on strategic issues during a brief meeting, they should be logged and set aside for a longer forum. Do not allow participants to go into too much detail, that others find irrelevant. They can build and provide concrete details on their own. Remember too, that ‘standing’ meetings (ie, meetings held regularly at the same time every week) were originally intended for participants to stand and not sit. Standing meetings get done a lot faster.
  • Agenda Control
    Stay vigilant about following the agenda. In other words, stay in scope. Many meetings are consumed with arguments about the project, the organization, or other issues beyond the control and scope of the participants. Participants that talk about what they want gives rise to the concept of people “who have their own agenda.” Stick to your agenda and monitor progress carefully.
  • Visual Support
    Stimulate participants and discussion with the proper use of easels and supplementary visuals. Do not however rely on a deck of slides. People can read and challenge slide decks on their own, they do not need a meeting for that. Build slides that share causal links and supplement with visuals that stimulate. A visually dynamic meeting offers ‘sex appeal’ compared to others.
  • Secure Feedback
    Get audible agreement, beginning with ground rules. Document decision points, preferably on large-scale poster size paper or white boards. As you build consensus, emphasize that consensus implies a quality decision that ALL participants can support, but NOT one that necessarily makes everyone happy. Consensus is something they can live with, and not disrupt in the hallways after the meeting.
  • Careful Review
    Upon conclusion, carefully review and confirm that everyone understands next steps. If the meeting changes nothing, it was not needed. Make the change or assignments visible and consider using a RASI chart for support. If follow-up meeting(s) are required, confirm future dates, times, and locations. Most importantly, conclude on time, or preferably, early. Before they depart, secure additional feedback on what you could have done to make the meeting even more successful. For solid and anonymous feedback, use our Post-it© note approach combined with the t-Chart called Plus-Delta for more meaningful input than is typically provided in public, when participants may not want to “embarrass” you with their criticism.

By following the suggestions above you can circumvent the three most common complaints about meetings, namely:

  1. Disorganized (ie, uncertain output or outcome)
  2. Length (ie, wasted time)
  3. Predetermined decisions (meetings are a poor form of persuasion)

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.

Meeting Announcement Considerations Prior to Shipping a Pre-Read


Before you send a meeting or workshop pre-read to participants, consider a formal announcement rather than an informal calendar invite. If accepted, follow-up the announcement with the invite, and then the pre-read.

Meeting Announcements

Meeting Announcements

While all of the following is not necessary, put yourself in the position of participant. Ask yourself, “Would I be interested in knowing this _______?” Clearly if the answer is ‘yes’, then consider putting it in the meeting announcement. Some considerations include:

  • Meeting facilitator contact information; including perhaps:
    • Easy to cut and paste email
    • URL for business group or division
    • Primary telephone
    • Mobile telephone
    • URL for SharePoint or workgroup folder
  • Meeting logistics; including perhaps:
    • Date of meeting
    • Time of meeting
    • Duration of meeting
    • Location of meeting (including a map if part of a large campus setting). Plus any hints about best access such as elevator banks to take or avoid
  • Meeting participants; including perhaps:
    • List of attendees
    • Alternatively consider adding their contact information as well
    • Items that should or should NOT be brought with them
    • Request for questions they would like answered during the meeting
  • Meeting rationale; including:
    • Purpose and scope of the meeting (50 words or less)
    • Statement of meeting deliverables (ie, output) or desired outcome
    • DRAFT agenda items (knowing some minor changes may occur)
    • Other miscellany particular to your situation

While these considerations may appear burdensome, they are truly optimal. You can remove or subtract as you deem fit, but always make adjustments from the point of view of the participants, rather than what will make your life easier.

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 You Can Lead a Group in a Complex Situation to Prioritize and Decide


This quantitative approach to SWOT was developed by Terrence Metz while at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. Traditionally, SWOT is a narrative method for describing a current situation. It is typically used in strategic planning, but it also is used in product development, annual planning of projects, or current situation analysis. We have used the following quantitative approach whenever you are faced with prioritizing among hundreds of options.

The following is a simplified approach.
In our FAST curriculum, we explain quadrant analysis, baselining, temporal shift, group personality, and other esoteric factors.

SWOT analysis begins by defining each of the four areas – Strengths (what a group controls and does well), Weaknesses (what a group controls but does not do well), Opportunities (situations, events, etc., outside control of the group that provide unique opportunities for growth, change, etc.), and Threats (changes or competitive forces that may adversely impact the group). Brainstorm each list separately. Analyze each list (PowerBalls is a good tool here) to prioritize to about six of the most significant factors each.

Build a matrix (see illustrations below). Opportunities and Threats on top with Strengths and Weaknesses down the side. Explain the scoring process to the group. Each member gets “9” points (it is an arbitrary number and you may change it if you want more or fewer points). They assign the points based on the impact or leverage that each strength or weakness has relative to each opportunity or threat. The higher the impact, the higher the number. Ensure that they don’t just spread them evenly – it should be based on a business understanding. Collect the scoring. Using a spreadsheet (alumni may download), calculate the final scores for each intersection, each column, each row, and each quadrant.

Review the scores with the group and highlight the quadrants, rows, and intersections with the highest scores. Summarize from the list and have the group convert the most impactful concepts into a narrative action plan.

One Person Example
A fictitious software company employee looks at its strengths as: experience, good people, creative ideas, and product integration. Its weaknesses are newness to market and development time. Opportunities are integrated products, new market, and extensive market research data that is available. Threats are recession, other large competitors (eg, Microsoft), and hardware manufactures. The one person may scores it as follows (scored from 1 to 9, with 9 indicating greatest impact):

Fictitious Individual Scoring Sheet

Fictitious Individual Scoring Sheet

Analysis
The scoring indicates the most important strengths are their product ideas and integration. The weakness making them most vulnerable is their development time. The most favorable opportunities are integrated products and growth of computer use.

Thoughts
Strengths matter if they help take advantage of an opportunity or fend off a threat. Weaknesses matter if they prevent a group from taking an opportunity or making them vulnerable to threats. Opportunities require some strength to take advantage. This matrix helps to highlight which strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats require strategies.

Eleven Person Summary
Here is a real life example with eleven participants. Note that the moderate strengths and weaknesses had little or not impact on the plan.   Participants largely weighted their most significant strengths and weaknesses to develop actions.

Actual Eleven Person Team, Aggregate SWOT Scoring Summary

Actual Eleven Person Team, Aggregate SWOT Scoring Summary

Quantiative SWOT analysis helps focus future efforts – products, projects, strategies, and actions. It takes a few hours to complete, but it is worth the effort.

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.

Neuroeconomics & Neurofacilitation: Rational Decisions Maximize Utility


World scientists are striving to map activity in the human brain. Presumably, a map of neural activity will shed light on how the brain works and how choices are made. Concurrently, there has been an upsurge in related fields seeking to understand human nature and behavior change: neuroaccounting, neuroeconomics, neurotics, neurofinance, neuroleadership, neurolinguisics, neuromanagement, neuromarketing, and now . . .neurofacilitation.

Why Individual Decisions are Made

Why Individual Decisions are Made

Neuroeconomics was cited by Anna Teo (The Business Times, 01/03/13) as having developed over 50 research groups around the world, “exploring the brain processes that underlie decision-making.” Economics focuses on how people make choices, especially when they cannot get everything they want. Traditional theory asserts that rational decision-making maximizes utility, satisfaction, or well being. Yet daily, people and groups generate sub-optimal decisions, so the question remains—why?

Science has advanced tremendously the past twenty years. Look no further for proof than proximity—they now know where in the brain choosing occurs, where preferences reside, and how choices happen physically. While they soon may be able to model ‘how we choose our underwear” (or how monkeys choose their juice), we professional facilitators must be held accountable to mapping how complex group decisions are made. Business meetings could be referred to as a neural net of decision-making.

Maintaining a diligent trail of challenge and documentation provides a benchmark to support neurofacilitation. Group decisions require traceability. Take any decision back to your supervisor, executive sponsor, or steering team and they will immediately respond with “Why?” Why did your groupmake the decision they made?

Why Group Decisions are Made

Why Group Decisions are Made

Data sets are making it much easier to make more informed decisions. Teo cites three relevant examples related to individual decision-making:

1) Electronic road pricing that helps predict the changing demographics, vehicle types, and density of traffic.

2) In New York City data is available on every taxicab: whether they are occupied or empty, when patrons are waiting (or not), size of the tips, etc.

3) Equity stock selections where information abounds whom, when, how much, etc.

Yet there is no comparable example offered to shed light on the most important decisions being made that affect all of humanity, not solely one individual. For example, should we go to war, fire a missile, build a new nuclear plant, construct a new highway (or conduct road repair), approve a major project, hire a key executive, etc.

Professional facilitators ought sensitize themselves to the importance of neurofacilitation; ie, challenging the underlying rationale and carefully documenting the support behind all of the options, not only the final choice. You may never want to see the term ‘neurofacilitation’ again, but you know that it oversimplifies the true nature and complexity of group decision-making, and how groups or teams define “utility.”

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.

Consensus does NOT Mean that Participants are Going to be “Happy”


A facilitator should typically avoid the term “happy”. Our effort guides a group to common or shared understanding that they can support and not lose any sleep over—something they can “live with.” Consensus does NOT mean that they are going to end up “happy.”

Look closely at the difference in meaning between the terms ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’. The ‘object’ is that outside of us that is being perceived. The ‘subject’ is the perceiver. In business, we frequently use the terms ‘objective’ as something we intend to accomplish or realize. We use the term ‘subject’ when we are referring to meeting participants, or ‘subject matter experts’.

Subject matter experts, aka SME, express their preferences, requirements, needs, priorities, likes, dislikes, etc. about ‘objects’ or things outside of their immediate control. Two people eating chili for example may disagree on the chili’s level of spiciness. What is really hot to one person may be tepid to another. They are experiencing separate realities; it, they are reacting differently to the same object (spiciness of the chili).

Scoville Units

Scoville Units

No amount of argument will get them to agree on whether the chili is too spicy or not. Clearly to one, it is, while to the other it is not. They are both right from their subjective points of view. The wrong approach would be to encourage them to meet halfway and call the chili semi-spicy. That would be like suggesting one with their left foot in a pail of hot water and their right foot in a pail of freezing water should on average, be comfortable.

Therefore a world-class facilitator strives to ‘objectify’ the subjective. Meaning, they strive to find a common ground that both parties to which both parties agree without compromise. In the case of spiciness, we might be able to get both parties to agree that the chili is neither hot nor tepid, rather they might agree that it measures 3,000 Scoville units (ie, the measure of pungency or the amount of capsaicin that makes peppers ‘hot’). The truly objective rating of the spiciness does not make either participant “happy” but it does give them a common ground about which they can argue for more or less in the specific, rather than the general.

While one may argue for more ‘heat’ and another argues for less ‘heat’ we can now more effectively facilitate precisely what is meant by heat, and wisely offer options such as offering two or three types of chili.

We are seeking agreement or consensus rather than making participants “happy” so please be careful when using the term, or similar terms that are “qualitative” by description but can be made “quantitative” through strong challenge, clear definitions, and excellent facilitation.

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.

Establishing Common Purpose Provides the Secret to Building Consensus


Always remember, ask WHY before WHAT before HOW when you want to lead a group of people to shared understanding. Success begins developing common ground as to WHY a group has come together to plan, analyze, or design. Use of our Purpose Tool quickly builds an integrated viewpoint that coalesces the intent and purpose behind anything—from a  large organization to a small product or process.   Only with an appeal to WHY something exists can we lead a meaningful discussion on WHAT we should do to support the purpose.

Common Purpose

Common Purpose

Create clear deliverables before your meeting, but start your meeting either building or confirming the purpose of the object of your deliverables. For example, if building consensus around a simple decision such as a gift for someone retiring, determine the purpose of the gift before prompting for options and criteria. Some in the group may be serious while others could treat the gift as a “gag” (ie, comedic relief). Best to reach understanding about the purpose of the gift before launching into gift ideas.

Contrasting the abstract with the concrete yields insight about the simple difference between WHAT and HOW. WHAT groups may need includes decisions, plans, and amplified understanding. Any discussion about deliverables such as decisions, plans, and prioritization should always appeal to WHAT is required to support WHY the common purpose exists and align with WHY it is important.

Likewise, detailed design and HOW things get done may also appeal to WHY it exists. In a safety-sensitive culture for example, risk of injury and potential damage to health, safety, or environment must be reconciled with WHY something exists. To prevent 100 percent risk abatement may be too expensive, so strive to reduce as much potential injury as common sense, timing, and budget allow.

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.

Challenge the Status Quo, such as “We don’t do things that way around here.”


Those of you familiar with the FAST curriculum remember the challenge of the “bookworm” exercise that only one or two students get correct per year.  Here is another similar, quickly run challenge to test groups resistant to change or inclined to simply “vote on things.”

Framing

Keeping Groups Mentally Sharp

Keeping Groups Mentally Sharp

Answer

Add an “A” tablet to the mix. Now you have two full tablets of each, not knowing which is “A” and which is “B”. Cut each tablet in half without mixing the halves. Then take one-half from each of the four tablets. The remainder will also provide the proper dosage for another treatment (eg, tomorrow).

Application

Use our “bookworm” problem, this “medicine” example, or similar “tests” to stir things up, especially with groups that become too complacent. Remember as well to remind your participants shouting “We don’t do things that way around here.” That WHAT they do may rarely change, but HOW they do it changes constantly, whether they realize it or not.

Other participants are given an understanding of the value of stimulating thinking processes throughout the day. Creative thinking is the key to breakthrough, and innovation is a primary driver of profit.

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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