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Build this powerful, influential skill to help make sense of change, communicate clearly and engage people in the most challenging situations

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    Entries in group (3)

    Thursday
    Dec052013

    A Blueprint for Meetings, Workshops, Conversations

    When you get people together - face to face or via a hookup - you need to make something happen. 

     
    Is it a briefing or transfer of information?
    Is it a consultative thing - you want to ask some questions and find out what they think.
     
    Maybe you need to involve them in the design or development of a process, product or service.
    Perhaps it's about collaboration: 'let's work on this thing together'. 
     
    And sometimes you want them to pick up the ball and run with it, toempower them so that they act and decide.
     
    Whichever of these you'd like to make happen, you need to start with that in mind. Here's a continuum or scale that can guide you:




    I regularly use these five levels and depths of participation (adapted from the International Association for Public Participation - or IAP2) to guide me in:

    • how to prepare for the gathering,
    • how to set up and design the environment they'll meet in,
    • what processes they'll work through and
    • how to handle the stuff that happens during that meeting.


    What you do as a leader will make a b-i-g difference in how well the group goes towards achieving the outcome. 

    It's not "their fault' or 'up to them'. It's on you. 

    If you've called the meeting, are facilitating or leading it or are responsible for getting the outcome, it really helps to get clear about why they are in the room (or dialled in remotely) and how you'll engage them to make something good happen. 

    Those crusty old days of workshops or conversations to 'discuss, decree and demolish' are gone. That's disengaging and ineffective. 

    Start with this Blueprint and zoom in on the levels that suit the outcome you're after. 

    The meeting, workshop or conversation will be more productive, more engaging and the people who've given their time to be there will oh-so grateful you got this sorted!


    Friday
    Jul262013

    'Break into groups and ...'  *groan*

    Facilitators, trainers and group workers beware!

    How often do you have in your sessions, plans and agendas and chunks of time where people are asked to break into groups, work on something and then .... report back?

    Yes it can be a powerful group process ... but when I have had the pleasure of being a group participant recently, I have sometimes seen it as a lazy, quick and unfocused option of choice for many group leaders!

    Groups can take quite a while to get to the heart of the topic or activity.

    It sucks to be in a group and not have enough time to go through some great storming and norming before you perform.

    Before you jump up and shout about how you see the value of group work as THE most important thing in your world, just check your diary for how long ago it was that YOU had to do the group thing.

    I think it's too often a 'go to' activity without uncovering the real need, outcome and purpose of the important work.

    There are other options : singular/solo activities, pair activities, whole group, mentor discussions ...

    Be sure you :
    Plan and prepare.
    Uncover the real need and purpose of the team and session.
    Have a range of activity options at your disposal.

    And if things get tricky or you don't know how you'll fill in time, step out of your normal routine and don't break people in to groups.

    Go on, try it. Just a few times.

    Your groups will love you for it!

     

    Friday
    Jul052013

    Are we ready to move on?

    It's been fun, challenging, interesting to work with some different groups this week - at some point each group needed to make a decision and move on. 

    Yes, you can vote, bring out coloured sticky dots or... whatever decision making process you like. But one approach that worked a charm this week was this:

    1. Open up the topic for discussion

    2. Visually capture key points about the views in the room (on a flip chart or white board) - people can SEE what others are thinking

    3. Identify the options or choices

    4 Check for agreement. That means 'asking' the question.

    I saw several groups this week spinning around content for such a long time. It's great to talk and put everyone's views out there, but once we're looping back around to some of the same points, some clarity is needed. 

    Summarising or recapping the main views is powerful and I rarely see anyone use this technique in group discussions. Too busy trying to get their own point across!

    Summarise, and then ask - 'any other views...any different views?'

    Once you've teased them all out, it's time to check if you're in agreement to proceed. 

    Again, I rarely see groups ask the question to get agreement. It's as if a few people are so frustrated that they say 'I think we're all in agreement, let's move on'. That ain't a question!

    Closed questions are great. 'Is there agreement?' 'Who disagrees?' 'Who still has views to put forward?' 'Are we ready to move on?' 

    Just because YOU think everyone agrees doesn't make it so. 

    Somtimes I'm in the role of listener (graphic recorder, visual capture) with teams and groups and not leading or faciliating. This is how I get to see what's really going on in teams and groups. If you had someone just listening to your next meeting, workshop or session - and not participating - what would they say? How would they rate your team's ability to get to consensus and move on?