The Problem with our Pursuit for Perfection and the Life-Changing Practice of Good Enough’


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    Entries in facilitator 4 step (5)


    Another way to handle all that talking

    If you've wandered around my website and found many of the resources and templates or read my blog ... you will have seen me 'go on' about my Facilitator 4 Step. 

    When you don't have a structure for a conversation, workshop or meeting, this model can really help you out. It can give the team focus and give you a place to go to guide you through the conversation. 

    Yesterday in a workshop with a team, they wanted to 'workshop' a topic. What do you do? Just open it up and let things go wherever they go? Or follow a structure?

    Well, I did a little of both. I outlined the structure - the Facilitator 4 Step, though I didn't call it that. I said "We'll talk about what we know, the facts... then hear your views and opinions... and then listen out for your ideas and suggestions."

    I created three flip charts with headings for the first of the three steps, facts, opinions, ideas - we weren't doing the 'actions' step at this stage. That would come later. 

    Then I opened up the discussion and just let it go on... and on. 

    As the team talked for the next 20 or 30 minutes or more, I listened and scribed or noted their key points. 

    If they said something that was fact based, I wrote it on the facts flip chart. 

    If they were talking about their views and opinions, that point went on the opinions flip chart. 

    And if they had a suggestion or idea for a solution, I wrote that on the ideas chart. 

    I simply let the conversation go on and on, capturing and sorting as they talked. 

    Yes, I was dancing and jumping from one chart to the next and back again - each time someone talked. This showed so clearly how our thinking and talking jumps from fact, to opinion to idea or solution - in just one sentence!

    It's no wonder teams or groups in conversation can find it difficult to get to actions and commitments when all of this mixed content is happening. 

    The flip charts and my sorting helped them see what they were talking about. It was a very efficient use of time. I didn't interrupt, I just let it go. 

    The end result: they have a categorised capture of their evidence and facts; their opinions and views; their ideas and opportunities. 

    Now they can go and prioritise and commit to action. 

    This is just another way to use a model or structure. You can make the group follow it or you can listen and sort as you go. 

    Try it out at your next meeting, workshop, strategy or planning session. 


    Hello... is anyone there? Teleconferences with Outcomes

    I prepared a quick e-book for a client today who needed some simple guidelines to shift the way her team run teleconferences. 

    This is not about the technical set up of invites and booking rooms and all that hoo-ha. 

    Rather it's about a few principles the team can follow every time they are connected by the phone line. And we've only been doing that for 130 years - so no wonder we sometimes need to revisit a few of our techniques!

    For her project team, she wanted to break the belief that : just because people can't see each other, doesn't mean you can't take visual notes or use a flip chart to capture the conversation. You can send it after the meeting. 

    Additionally, her team's meetings were 'rush-fests'. Everyone rushing in and rushing out. Not enough focus on clarity. Clarity saves time in the long run. Clarity trumps speed. So s-l-o-w down; allow time. 

    So I share a few tips to help you get some better outcomes from your phone hook-ups too. 


    Learn the dance: the 4 key steps to meeting awesomeness

    You know the meeting merry-go-round where there is so much circling back on to topics covered earlier. Or meetings and conversations when some people don't move on and others seem to wrap up the meeting but no one knows who's going to do what. 

    'Aaaargh - there's an hour of my life I'll never get back,' you say.

    Here's the thing; if you've called a meeting or are leading a meeting, it's up to you to keep 'em on track, help them participate and make outcomes happen.

    Don't blame 'them'. You're it. It's on you. 

    Here's how I roll: whenever I'm facilitating a strategic workshop, a strategy session, a design thinking workshop, I am ALWAYS listening and looking out for whether the talk is in one of these four areas:


    1. Backstory
    2. Opinions
    3. Ideas
    4. Outcomes


    That's it. And I make sure we move through that process throughout the meeting - also making sure everyone get's to contribute, add stuff, say what they need and so on. 

    There's a visual of my Facilitator 4-Step - as I call it - here. I'm always doing this 'dance' to make sure we get to the outcome in every meeting and workshop with clients. 

    Most people think they're pretty damn hot at meeting leadership. I disagree. Most of what I see in workplaces gets really mucky and muddy between steps 1, 2 and 3, and not doing 4 well either. 

    There's an ebook I have that unpacks the model. Email me and I'll send it to you! As a gift. 

    Dance on folks - just learn the steps. You won't tread on any toes, I promise, and you'll have plenty of dance partners for years to come!


    Opening a can of worms 

    When your team or group gets together for some strategy, planning or important conversations, often what you plan to work on or think you need to work on is not the real issue. Real issues can be sitting below the surface.
    In a planning session with a client recently we talked about what might be below the surface. ‘I don’t think we want to go there’, ‘that’s a can of worms and it’s more trouble than it’s worth’, ‘if we go there we’ll never get out!’ they said.
    There can be a feeling that some of those big issues or topics will be too big and you’ll never get back on track, or it will be too touchy or difficult. Sometimes you might think it’s not important for the work you’re doing anyway… or you can plan the strategy without having to go there.
    But time and time again in strategic planning sessions, retreats and company fireside chats with clients, the value of ‘going there’ can be seen. 
    A board team I worked with who had a bright and creative agenda mapped out for the weekend, needed to take a right hand turn early on to deal with some fundamental financial and strategic issues. We went there.  Our original agenda and plan shifted and changed. For some, that was uncomfortable. But we did what was needed… and we got back and continued on.

    One of my clients recently said : “Lynne was indeed the glue that held the discussion together while at the same time allowing the conversation to go where it needed to go, as touchy as it was...”
    Good facilitation skills will give you the confidence to go to that topic and work with the team to address it.
    But if you're not going to open up the can, then at least name and say what the can of worms is - a bit like reading the ingredients label on a product from a supermarket shelf. And there's a lot more of that happening these days!
    A helpful meeting tool to start with the facts, move to opinions, generate ideas and commit to actions is my Facilitator 4-Step from a few issues back. 

    So go on, open the can. Most cans of worms only have a couple of worms in them anyway and once they’re out, so many other things are easier to address and clearer to tackle. And the energy you now have – because you’re not stifling or dancing around those worms – is better redirected to the real game, the other issues and the important work of the team. Now where is that can opener? Oh, it's got a ring pull top - great!


    Getting to decision and action

    You know when you're in a meeting or conversation and things don't seem to be getting anywhere, at the speed you'd like? You know the round and round thing? 'Didn't we just cover that?' 'OK, she said that before, let's move on!' 'When, if ever, will we decide on something?' 

    I wanted to give you a valuable tool for meetings and conversations that helps you keep things moving, towards decisionmaking. I call it 'The Facilitator 4-Step'. It's simple, it's clear and you just need to signal with the group what stage of the meeting or conversation topic you're at. These four steps will help you everytime, if your meeting goes for five minutes or even for a full day. I've used it in team workshops, strategic planning days, community meetings, even one-on-one conversations. It was a part of some recent facilitation training I delivered for project management teams to help them move from talking about it, to acting on it!

    Facilitator 4-Step
    1. Facts and Evidence : what do we know? Deal with the facts first, whether you're reviewing what this is all about or you need to clarify the details. Hold back on opinions for now.
    2. Discussion and Opinion : what do we think? Now you can let the discussion and opinions flow...! Identify common themes, capture thoughts and views. Hold off on solutions for now.
    3. Ideas and Opportunity : what could we do? If you need to generate ideas and solutions, now is the time. Make sure you don't cycle back to opinion and discussion, unneccesarily. 
    4. Actions and Commitments : what will we do? When there are decisions to be made, now is the time. The facts are out there, you've discussed thoroughly, come up with ideas, now act!

    The Facilitator 4-Step is available here as a visual I created using Brushes on the ipad; you can save or print it. You can use the questions in blue to explain to the group where you're at. 

    You can get to decision and stop the round and round. But make sure you capture views and opinions along the way too. No steamrolling ok? And if you're meeting to decide, decide to follow a process that will actually get you all somewhere...  phew!