Tag: groups

From nightmares to no cares

Facillitation, Meetings No Comments

In my one to one coaching I often use a framework adapted from scenario planning. I get clients to describe 4 futures they think they could encounter (and possibly create): the Dream, the Disaster, the Default and the Do-able. When coaching someone to develop their facilitation skills and repertoire, I find that the disaster scenario features prominently – where things could go horribly wrong looms large. Our online facilitation skills assessment has a tenth category that surfaces these fears – and that ‘facilitation nightmares’ section regularly reveals low scores!

So what are these nightmares? The same ones come up time and time again and include these four:
1) Will the group start talking – “there’s no energy, will they interact with me?”
2) Will I be able to stop them – “will some people go on and on, boring everyone and distracting the process?”
3) Will they fall out – “how do I stop them getting into conflict with each other?”
4) Will they reject my agenda, will they reject me – “what if I don’t know what to ask them to do or they don’t like it?”

Which do you worry about the most?  For me, you might be surprised to know, is 2).

What would you do?

In my facilitation training we explore lots of top tips for these. Briefly, a few of my favourite tactics are:
i) Too Quiet: Get people to work in pairs or trios within the first few minutes of starting – and whenever the mood seems flat
ii) Too Talkative: I find that humour, reminding all of the time and seeking other peoples views works
iii) Too Argumentative: See conflict as good (something to be harnessed and embraced even, not avoided), and frame the day as about exploring different views…and then methods like the six thinking hats, Thomas Kilman, scenarios, hexagon mapping, iceberg, polarity management, dilemma resolution, the idenk agree/differ process kick in!
iv) Too Resistant: I like using the SPOG process…

The ‘SPOG’ method is helpful when you experience sustained pushback to your suggestions:
 Summarise the Situation
 Propose a process, maybe sharing the alternative options you see too
 Outline the output you believe it will achieve
 Gather the views of the group: what do others think of your suggestion? Check what they think might be useful to do…

[And a more facilitative alternative: Before you share your view of what to suggest next you might call time out, tea or set up a trio – to create you breathing space or time to go over things with any colleagues or client. This can lead to a version of this called SGPO where you jump straight from 1 to 4 – and then maybe back to 2 and 3 after some conversations in groups or trios – and with your co worker. We are firm believers in the ‘power of pairs’ to help at times just like this! ]

And what can be done to avoid nightmares?

There is lots to do in rehearsal – the second D of the 4Ds of Facilitation (design, dry run, do it, debrief)…and one of the 13Ps too!

And in the heat of the moment..
A. First think about what is going on – what are your hypotheses for what is happening under the surface (see the iceberg or Deep Think model here  – maybe even working this explicitly with the group)
B. Explore your options: using the Heron framework and this list from one of the best facilitation books

C. Have a go!
D. Then reflect: what went well, what would you have done differently, what are you curious about (what do you think might have been going on), what will you do next (you can journal this process with a pen and paper in a book to keep or type in an e-file)?

The more you do this, the easier it gets. Building your capacity to reflect regularly after a session increases your chance of seeing alternatives and options ‘in the moment’.

And revisiting the promise of this blog: from Nightmares to No Cares? Well not quite, but less worry is certainly possible!

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Facilitating value?

Facillitation, Personal productivity No Comments

Last weekend I visited a family member in her new flat. She had bought a flatpack chest of draws – and my job before lunch was to assemble it. I was a bit apprehensive recalling a recent experience with a different brand of self-assembly and struggling with flatpack products in the past!

However, it went well:

1) My 90 minutes of time added value to the box of bits, and the life of my family memeber. The deal with IKEA is clear: we will sell you a cheap product and your time will make it into something that would otherwise have cost far more.
2) I was impressed by the simplicity of the instructions and how it did what it said – the design and supply of bits was spot on.
3) I had taken an electric screw driver – that tool helped hugely.

And the analogy to facilitation…?  When working with a group:
a) We need to add value to what they are doing. Facilitation is about making things easy (or easier). Helping a group get further and faster with their task and relationships than they could on their own. And to complete our FFFF of facilitation, doing that in ways that are both fun as well as focused.
b) We need to think about the way we structure and explain sessions – so they are in some ways fresh (another F) and helpful: sharing what we are planning to do in ways that earn confidence without confusion.
c) We need to be aware of the key personal skills and knowledge we might need: from a new creativity technique or a bit of digital kit or an in depth understanding of group dynamics, for example.

Build well!

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The ubiquitous Post-It

photos, Think No Comments

phone 24 Feb 2010 020

The Post-It is everywhere (here in a hip converted factory as part of the Shoreditch House private members club in east London).

Yet its ubiquity, as a tool for facilitation and managing the thinking at meetings, means that it is no longer a fresh way to work in many contexts.  It sometimes attracts opprobrium. Increasingly so.

We have a pad of post-its with the words “oh no, not another learning experience” printed on the top of each!

Yet, the alternative stuffy Boardroom-style meeting is tolerated despite its low utility.

Curious…

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