Categorize as Quick Wins, Tried and True, Wild and Crazy, or Hail Mary Passes


The Payoff Matrix shown in the “two by two” below provides the classic means of prioritizing your options. Using return (ie, Impact of the Solution) and investment (ie, Cost of Implementation, typically time or money) as the criteria dimensions, it sorts your options into one of four categories:

  1. Quick Win (aka, Quick Hit)
  2. Major Opportunity
  3. Special Effort
  4. Time Waster
Return on Investment Payoff Matrix

Return on Investment Payoff Matrix

Perhaps a more engaging and stimulating way to frame the options, substitutes Probability of Success for the investment or cost dimension. If so, the updated matrix would look something like this:

  1. Quick Win
  2. Tried and True
  3. Wild and Crazy
  4. Hail Mary Pass
Probability Based Payoff Matrix

Probability Based Payoff Matrix

Method

Once you have built the options, code them onto small Post-It® notes. Typically alpha coding (ie, A, B, C, etc.) is preferred to numeric coding (ie, 1, 2, 3, etc.) so as not to permit any subtle bias about the relative importance of each. Consider iconic coding as an alternative to strip away all possible bias (ie, ✚, ♢, ✇, etc.)

Place your dimensions on a large white board. Facilitate from the zero point, or middle of the matrix and work one dimension at a time, asking is it more or less than others previously posted, until the groups is satisfied with the array.

Alternative

Break your team into three groups and have each group complete their own coding, probably on a large sheet (ie, 50cm * 75cm) and bring all three matrices to the front. Create a fourth and final matrix by merging the three, facilitating discussion about the differences until the group is satisfied with the final array.

Next Steps

Complete your prioritization effort with two more steps: assign roles and responsibilities for further development and conduct a Guardian of Change to agree on what participants will tell others after your meeting has concluded.

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 SolutionImprove 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 Primary Reasons for Hosting Workshops Differ from Hosting Meetings


Meetings are typically held for one of the following three reasons:

Workshops and Meetings Support the Life Cycle of Projects and Other Initiatives

Workshops and Meetings Support the Life Cycle of Projects and Other Initiatives

  1. To endorse or decide
  2. To inform
  3. To monitor and review

Workshops on the other hand tend to focus on singular topics and strive to build impactful deliverables. Successful workshops depend on the following:

  • Building a workshop method to engage participants
  • Defining specific deliverables
  • Grouping information gathering activities
  • Policing the workshop method to accomplish those goals

Over the years we have catalogued the various workshops we have facilitated and share the reasons with you, sequenced below in alphabetical order, rather than frequency, importance, or randomness:

  • Any initiative requiring decision-making or consensual agreement between two or more people
  • Business area analysis
  • Business case development (including process optimization)
  • Business performance management (BPM—including balanced scorecard and dashboards)
  • Business process improvement—design or optimization
  • Content management prioritization
  • Executing your strategy, building action plans
  • Gathering requirements
  • Innovation, at least the creativity and ideation portion
  • Key performance, measuring and management indicators
  • Knowledge management (including decision support)
  • Maintenance activity to solve for missing descriptions of changes, precision with requirements, or problem identification
  • New system or business development initiatives
  • Problem situation requiring arbitration or neutrality
  • Project management
  • Problem solving
  • Product development processes
  • Scientific inquiry or challenging paradigms
  • Six Sigma® and Lean or other quality initiatives
  • Strategic planning at any level in the organizational holarchy
  • Team charters (including management perspectives and supporting strategic planning activities or tactical assignments)
  • Virtual meetings and workshops
  • Voice of the customer or advisory groups

Meetings frequently follow workshop activity. For example, numerous meetings will follow a project charter-planning workshop across the life cycle of the project being supported. While dozens of life cycles exist (eg; IPCC, DMAIC, etc.), each workshop has its own life cycle with at least three phases:

  • Preparation—getting yourself and the participants ready
  • Workshop event—gathering the information, making the decisions, and documenting the results
  • Review and resolution—distribute and integrate deliverable, typically into project

Over the next few issues we will take a look at various components required to support each phase, with required and optional roles that support a successful workshop endeavor.

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 SolutionImprove 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.

6 Potent Responses to Facilitating Collaborative Behavior During Conflict


External Conflict

Conflict in your group is natural and not necessarily bad when properly managed. You must channel conflict into productivity. Managed well, conflict leads to expanded information exchange, surfaced rationales, more options, and better group decisions that enable change. Managed poorly, conflict destroys. Properly managed, conflict leads to positive transformation. If left festering in the hallways, conflict leads to chaos.

Conflict provides one of the best reasons for justifying the time and expense of a face-to-face meeting because it cannot be properly resolved with mail, attachments, and messaging. Society places negative values on conflict at home and at school. We are not taught collaborative problem solving skills. We will look at the likely external sources of conflict, barriers you will encounter, and responses that are proven effective.

External Conflict

External Conflict

Recognizing Conflict

Recognize that conflict exists particularly when you sense resistance from the group. If your intuition tells you that something is not right, you would be wise to listen to the symptoms:

  • Challenges and attacks
  • Silence and withdrawal
  • Emergence of people with problems
  • Tardiness and punctuality problems
  • Sabotage attempts at the project, process, or facilitator

Sources of Conflict

Primary sources of conflict in a typical workshop include the following, but keep in mind that the two biggest predictors are tenure (ie, how long somebody has been around) and when their jobs, titles, or reporting situation is at risk or being changed:

  • Competition—feeling out of control or the need to control
  • Fears—participant fears as well as facilitator fears
  • Habits—used to disagreeing or arguing, cultural
  • Listening filters—age, background
  • Misinformation—rumors, especially with change
  • Participants’ problems—out of control, unable to excel or bond
  • Poorly defined objectives—misunderstanding of expectations
  • Semantics—understanding of words and intent
  • Situations—reengineering, reorganizations, automating jobs
  • Thinking styles—vertical/ horizontal
  • Ways participants view others—biases, prejudices

Barriers

The following barriers inhibit your ability to manage conflict:

  • Ability or willingness to listen—yours and theirs
  • Fears—yours and theirs
  • Group norms—culture such as “we don’t discuss that here”
  • Image—inability to save face
  • Lack of skill—a weak facilitator
  • Learned responses—our past is hard to unlearn
  • Time—consensus is seldom achieved quickly
  • Vulnerability—real or perceived threats                                                                

Your Responses

How do you respond to manage conflict? To effectively facilitate a conflict situation, you must keep conflict constructive and . . .

  1. Understand anger—dealing with yours and theirs.
  2. Know how to communicate acceptance—to promote open communications.
  3. Understand consensus—it is not compromise.
  4. Prepare properly—know if it is coming.
  5. Build a tool kit (see FAST Facilitative Leadership Tools for immediate help and develop a hip pocket set of tools in preparation for the unexpected)—build teams and diffuse problems.
  6. Challenge—when people raise objectives, discover the cause of the objection. With active listening and proper leadership, the objection can be converted into criterion. What causes the objection and what is the unit of measurement of the cause?

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.

Individual Motivation to Embrace Organizational Goals (aka, Persuasion)


Meeting and workshop participants by definition ought be participatory. To get and stay involved, subject matter experts (ie, SMEs or participants) need motivation to both show up (or attend) and to actively contribute over the course of a meeting. The role of facilitator or session leader mandates the need to link value from their participation to the greater good, and in return HOW the individual will benefit.

Avoid a Gun to the Head as Motivation

Avoid a Gun to the Head as Motivation

The three classic forms of persuasion include:

  1. Internalization (indicative of the will or the WHY of a meeting),
  2. Identification (indicative of the wisdom or the WHAT of a meeting), and
  3. Forced Compliance (indicative of the activity or the HOW of a meeting)

Internalization

From the perspective of a meeting participant, the most powerful, long-lasting, and effective form of motivation occurs when the participant associates their meeting contributions with personal gain. To internalize suggests an individual that can associate their input with meeting output, and meeting output that ultimately generates a return on their investment of time and energy.

When the facilitator can demonstrate that the meeting output (ie, deliverable) will demonstrably affect the quality of life of a participant, how much money they will make, who they will work for, who will work for them, or equally powerful factors, they have internalized the need to make a contribution.

Participants that can link the group goal back to their own lives, such as developing line of sight toward some extrinsic gain such as increased income or more balanced workload, they view their existing competencies and potential contributions as a validation of their time and energy. To the extent that their contributions amplify impact on the deliverable and increase the quality of the output, their participation in meetings and workshops increases dramatically.

The facilitator ought make clear the value of their contributions and strive to quantify the financial risk if the meeting fails. Typically risk may be expressed in financial units (eg, dollars) or labor values (ie, FTE or full-time equivalent). If the facilitator cannot link individual contributions to some measurable value, meeting participation will likely be dominated by the participants that can internalize the value of their contributions, at the expense of other participants who remain less clear about how they will be impacted by the meeting deliverable. One could view internalization as the ability to apply SMART principles by quantifying value, creating valid objectives for subject matter experts.

Identification

A less effective and less sustaining form of motivation or persuasion develops from fuzzier or qualitative form of motivation. In modern society, the analogy is advertising. To the extent that participants can identify with the goals and objectives of a meeting, the more likely they are to contribute, and to make their contribution robust and frequent.

Charismatic session leaders can frequently persuade with their personality styles because participants can identify with their passion and exuberance. Identification represents an extrinsic form of motivation, rather than the intrinsic form obtained through internalization.

Successful persuasion may occur when the larger group (eg, the entire organization) is linked back to the smaller team (ie, meeting participants) and when the team is viewed as successful by the organization, they are also likely to viewed as successful as individuals. Participants feel or believe that the organization will positively view their personal competencies based on performance of the team.

Forced Compliance

A valid analogy to understand forced compliance develops when one views a “gun to their head.” In other words, do it or you will be harmed. Forced Compliance best describes the motivation of most people attending “staff” meetings. They really don’t want to go, but risk penalty or even termination if they fail to appear.

While a powerful motivator to attend, forced compliance does little to increase participation. In fact, most people with a gun to their head will say or contribute little. Strive to avoid this form of motivation, because if it is required to get people to attend, most likely the meeting is not necessary in the first place.

Leaders that rely on forced compliance are not thinking clearly. They need to revisit internalization and establish line of sight for the participants, so that each participant can approximate the true value of their attendance and contributions.

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 SolutionImprove 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.

Decision-Making: Stay Focused on Strategic, Operational, OR Tactical Issues


Scope creep wreaks havoc on projects. Meetings also spin out of control because the leader allows the co-mingling of strategic, operational, AND tactical issues. Each deserves a different forum, approach, and preparation. Do NOT allow your meetings to jump back and forth between different issue types.

Since many people spend a large portion of the workday attending meetings, strive to understand the clear purpose of the meeting and what it needs to deliver. All meetings affect decision-making, or they should not be held. While many meetings appear innocuous, such as staff meetings, people take their learnings and make new decisions based on new information. All meetings impact decision-making, or the power of choice.

Decision Making Leadership

Decision Making Leadership

Strategy (Planning) Issues

The input of a strategy session makes clear WHY something is important and the output becomes WHAT we are going to do about it. Most planning sessions are “strategic” to the needs of the group attending because the output is WHO does WHAT.

Most academic approaches strongly encourage a SWOT analysis to lead to consensual understanding about WHAT a group of people needs to do to reach their goals (fuzzy) and objectives (SMART). A thorough SWOT analysis takes hours, not minutes.

Do NOT allow for a discussion of strategic issues during operational updates and similar types of meetings that are organized primarily to share information. Take the strategy issues that arise, document them clearly, and set them aside for discussion during a true planning session, when enough time is allowed to digest complex topics.

Likewise, do NOT allow the group to dive into too many details if you are completing strategy or analysis work. Keep the discussion in the abstract (eg, accelerate vehicle). If the discussion becomes too concrete (eg, foot on the pedal), you risk incomplete planning or analysis. Do not allow discussions about HOW activities will be performed when the purpose of the meeting is establish WHAT needs to be done (eg, acceleration).

Operational (Analysis) Issues

Problem solving might be separated into problems requiring immediate attention and long-range problems that require a complex and perhaps cultural change. Most “immediate” problems focus on satisfying stakeholders at the expense of the supplier or supply chain. Long-term problems lack a sense of urgency resulting in lengthy discussions that remain on topic, but lead to shallow or unclear deliverables. Structure provides help for analysis meetings.

Most operational support meetings lack structure. Problem solving provides a decent example. Participants frequently commit the bias of “solving”. They jump from the problem to the solution and skip the critical step of analysis. For example, if we jump from the symptom of a problem to its cures, there is likelihood we will miss something. If however, we structure the meeting to understand all of the possible causes of the symptom and focus discussion on the cause and not the symptom, we will not likely miss something significant. In requirements gathering for example, “poor requirements” are not typically gathered as wrong requirements; rather, they are “poor” because of the things we missed.

Tactical (Design) Issues

When pushed into the concrete details of staffing, purchasing, or other work methods, carefully separate the decision criteria from the options. Groups are capable of making higher quality decisions than the smartest person in the group because:

  1. Representing diverse stakeholder interests generates more robust criteria
  2. By using diverse subject matter experts, we increase the likelihood that their understanding of causal relationships (ie, cause and effect) will be captured,
  3. Groups create more options than aggregating individuals and more options is directly linked to higher quality decisions.

Leadership Role

Do not forget to understand your role, style, and relationship when using groups to support decision-making. If you intend to advocate for a specific decision, have someone facilitate the session. If you are untrained professionally, and the issue is complicated, complex, or politically charged, someone else should facilitate the session. If you begin as facilitator, but someone else emerges as commanding group respect (typically because they exude neutrality), consider turning the session over to them.

Be prudent, no one wants more meetings. They only want results.

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 SolutionImprove 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 Cultural Shift from Group Orientation to Shared Team Values


We have argued for years that unclear speaking (or writing) is indicative of unclear thinking. Most people do not distinguish between the meaning of a “group” or a “team.” We find the difference so important, that it could represent the difference between “life” and “death.”

Groups of people assemble. Teams are assembled.

With groups, members strive to arrive at a deliverable that is satisfactory to each member. Satisfaction is defined with respect to the individual interest. The only challenge is a deliverable (or decision) that satisfies the interests of members acting on own their own as individuals (or potentially as representative of larger stakeholder interests). Groups of people may attend a concert together, hoping to be satisfied by the music and entertainment, but individual reactions may vary.

Pushing in the Same Direction

Pushing in the Same Direction

The presence of teams suggests an overriding shared goal that is independent of the interests of the individual members. With high functioning teams, members emphasize the importance of the shared goal and make their personal interest subservient to the shared goal. Successful teams share a reaction, typically positive in nature. They will push or pull in the same direction to support common cause.

Distinguishing Attributes

Some of the variables you need to consider when optimizing facilitated methods for teams include understanding about the following questions:

  • How effective and trusted has group decision-making been in the past for the organization?
  • How much effort has been invested understanding the quality of decision-making?
  • To what extent can the formal leader of the team be perceived as sharing the same or similar perspective?
  • To what extent do the individuals share perspective or derive from a similar level within the organization?
  • To what extent does the culture promulgate distributed decision-making, where individuals are trusted to take a course of action that supports both the organization and the individual?
  • To what extent is the group an actual unit in the organizational structure (eg, reporting to the same leadership) or diversely representing many functional or geographic areas?

Be Conscious

As a leader stress the difference between groups and teams. Expect high performance, or you might not get it. Answer the questions above to support you selection of tools along the FAST decision-making continuum that are best suited for your team and organizational situation.

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 SolutionImprove 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.

A Blueprint for Consensus Building Around Strategic Decision-Making


After reviewing some material about the optimal methodology (ie, approach) for strategic distribution planning, related to an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) project, it became quickly evident that the expert’s recommendation followed the basic principles of all decision-making. The three indisputable components include:

  1. Purpose (or, intent)
  2. Options
  3. Criteria

Since not all criteria is of equal value, the author suggested weighting the criteria, referred to as “service outputs.” Even when you make a simple decision about buying new underwear, you consider the purpose (eg; workout, daily, formalwear, etc.), your options (typically stuff on the shelf at the store), and your criteria (ie; style, price, size, etc.). Not surprisingly, you also weigh the criteria, as size is probably the most important criteria, followed closely by price.

In their model they suggest the following:

  • Identify which channels you are seeking to penetrate
  • Isolate the most important segments within each channel
  • Identify their “service outputs” and then to . . .
  1. List clearly
  2. Rank
  3. Prioritize
  4. Rank

Nearly all decisions could be represented on a single-page. We call the visual array a decision-matrix. Compare your options to your criteria.

Decision Support Matrix (illustration)

Decision Support Matrix
(illustration)

Do not ask a close-ended question such as “Does this criteria affect this option?” Rather, ask the open-ended question that yields a powerful visual; namely, “To what extent does this criteria impact this option (ie, High, Low, or Medium). It’s easier to build consensual understanding when taking a non-narrative approach as shown below.

The example suggests the important attributes sought when hiring domestic staff for a wealthy household. Note for example that “Reputation” is less important when hiring a new Gardener than when hiring someone for Day Care support of the children. Again, note that “Creativity” is more important when hiring a chef than when hiring Cleaning Support. The group can easily evaluate the importance of the options by the extent they are supported by the criteria. The group can also see the relative importance of an individual criterion by evaluating its impact across all of the options.

Remember, the secret is to ask the open-ended question, “To what extent . . .” Additionally, since the example is a simple, “plain vanilla” illustration, modify it to your own situation, and consider using the Bookend tool to force fit an even distribution of Highs, Lows, and Moderates across the options or within each option. See the link that follows for further explanation on the use of Bookends.

By the way, some of the criteria used in the distribution channels example might include:

  • Adaptability (eg, to economic upheaval, competitive forces, etc.)
  • Effectiveness (eg, return on investment, market share, etc.)
  • Efficiency (eg, expense to revenue, cost of doing business, etc.)
  • Quality (eg, customer satisfaction, on time performance, etc.)

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.

Seven Traits that Increase the Likelihood of Successful Meetings


Avoid meeting killers. A “killer” would suggest the absence or void of its opposite, a success catalyst. There is no set formula for successful meetings, but there are given traits that suggest a strong likelihood of successful meetings, listed in alphabetical order below:

Successful Team Meetings

Successful Team Meetings

  1. Control the Operational Definitions to Prevent Scope Creep: Unless your deliverable calls for a definition or scoping boundaries, do not allow arguments about the meaning of terms used in your preparatory materials. If you have prepared a meeting deliverable and agenda, then you need to know the meaning of the terms being used, so do not allow any argument about definitions. Scope creep kills projects, and it kills meetings as well.
  2. Embrace Ground Rules to Ensure On-time Performance: The terms “concussion”, “percussion”, and “discussion” are all related. Avoid meeting headaches and get more done faster. You do not have to have ground rules, only if you want to get more done, faster.
  3. Enjoin and Facilitate Argumentation and Discussion: The best return on investment of face-to-face meeting time (and costs) derives from resolving conflict. When two or more people (or teams) disagree, they need facilitation. Arguments are not well solved with text messages, emails, decks of slides, and PDFs.
  4. Focus on the Analytics or Tools that Galvanize Consensus: There is more one than tool in all circumstances. Given your participants, constraints, and personal experience, anticipate a tool that may be optimum for your situation. If possible, anticipate a back-up approach as well, if something goes awry with your plan.
  5. Increase the Velocity of Participation: Groups are smarter than the smartest person in the group because groups generate more options than individuals alone. Solicit and encourage a multiplicity of input. The human mind is empowered tremendously when it can compare and contrast options to influence decision-making.
  6. Know What Done Looks Like: Any leader needs to know where they are going before they take off. The deliverable of your meeting must be made clear before the meeting starts. People can follow someone who knows where they are going. People are reticent to follow someone who does not know where they are going. And meeting participants ALWAYS know the difference.
  7. Prepare a Method or Agenda to Guide the Group: Structure yields flexibility. If you create a map for a journey, it is easy to take a detour or scenic route because you know where to go when the temporary path is no longer valuable. Plan your work and work your plan.

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 SolutionImprove 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.

It Is NOT “What’s in it for me?” Rather, “What do you need or want from me?”


One difference between high performance groups and normal or under-performing groups of people is the perspective embraced by the participants during meetings and workshops.  Most participants attend sessions with concern over “What’s in it for me?”  That is neither the right attitude nor the right question.  What they should be asking is “What do you need or want from me (so that we can get done faster)?”

What Do You Need from Me?

What Do You Need from Me?

As facilitator or session leader, it is virtually impossible to shift their attitude at the start of a meeting.  To cause a shift in participant thinking, attitude, and behavior requires clear and two-way communications before the meeting begins.

Most meetings (at least the good ones) typically result in Action Plans and agreed upon roles and responsibilities for making things happen.  Because we expect to hold the participants accountable for their follow-up, get them involved before the meeting starts to understand and agree to the Purpose, Scope, Deliverables, and Simple Agenda for the meeting.

You have every right to expect participants to show up prepared.  As session leader, it is your responsibility to define “prepared.”  How can participants arrive prepared if they do not know the purpose of the meeting before it starts?  How can participants stay focused and complete on time if they do not understand the scope of the meeting (as discrete from the scope of the project the meeting may be supporting)?  How can participants help you get done faster if you and they do not know “what done looks like (ie, deliverable)”?  How can participants agree to follow-up assignments if they are not permitted to provide their input, clarifications, and calibrations about HOW they are going to get done on time (ie, the Agenda)?

Ultimately the reason for most meetings and workshops is that we need consensual answers to relatively complex questions.  If the questions are simple, typically we do not need a meeting nor are their consensual challenges.  Knowing that effective meetings develop consensual answers to questions and problems, the session leader must prepare and know in advance of the meeting, the questions that need to be answered.

Once developed and understood, do not hide the questions to be asked in a meeting.  Share them in advance.  Since select subject matter experts (ie, participants) are more likely to provide input on select questions, highlight the questions on an individual basis and explain to each participants that you expect them to think in advance about their responses.  Explain that when the questions(s) is asked that you have highlighted for them to consider, you expect them to take the lead and be among the first to offer up a perspective.

It’s not easy to run a successful meeting.  That is why many meetings fail or frail.  Your job is to make sure the meeting or workshop is off and running the moment you start.  The only way to ensure that level of productivity is to prepare your participants in advance.

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 SolutionImprove 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.

14 Facilitator Typologies to Avoid (Humorous, Although Uncannily Real)


In light of upcoming Holiday Spirit, here is a quick and somewhat humorous listing of fourteen different facilitator typologies or “personalities” you might seek to avoid. My favorite is “The Pretender.”

14 Typologies to Avoid

14 Typologies to Avoid

  • The “I Can’t Hear You” Guy—The facilitator who refuses to listen, probably because they are too busy analyzing, judging, and processing information.
  • The Blabber—The facilitator who loves the sound of his or her own voice, and actually believes they are adding value when speaking about content rather than context.
  • The Centerpiece—The facilitator who makes he or she the real content of the workshop, because of course, it’s all about them.
  • The Drill Sergeant—The facilitator who is rigidly stuck on the agenda and puts the clock above quality content.
  • The Guardian—The facilitator who makes certain that all conversation goes through him or her and not from participant to participant, so as not to lose control.
  • The Ice Cube—The distant and aloof facilitator who is unwilling to personalize the experience, sometimes becoming accusatory.
  • The Know-it-all—The facilitator who always has the answer. The know-it-all whom can’t say “I don’t know.”
  • The Marathon Man—The facilitator who piles activities on top of one another, doesn’t allow for breaks, and ignores the need for groups to pause, reflect, and absorb topics and ideas.
  • The Molasses Man—The facilitator who is painfully slow and doesn’t have an innate feel for pacing, variety, or style.
  • The Parrot—The facilitator who relentlessly recaps information, restates ideas, and summarizes the obvious (although sometime justifiable for groups that are challenged to focus and “be here now.”)
  • The Passenger—The facilitator who lets people talk too long and gives up the reins of facilitation to whomever is speaking at the time.
  • The Pretender—The facilitator who doesn’t ask real questions but only “pretense questions” that are really designed to give the facilitator an excuse to pontificate.
  • The Storyteller—The facilitator who tells far too many cutesy stories or “war stories” and never gets deep into the content.
  • The Tunnel Driver—The facilitator who keeps doing the same thing or uses the same method hour after hour.

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 SolutionImprove 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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