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    Entries in management consultant (3)

    Thursday
    Nov102016

    Facilitation for Consultants : 9 things to do

    Building on my recent post about Beyond Being a Consultant, there's a wonderful space for consultants, experts and thought leaders to step into organisations today, and that is in the role of a facilitator. 

    Not just being a clever smarty pants about your expertise, but also helping a team, group, executive, board or gathering of leaders to work through the stuff they need to work through and get to some meaningful outcomes. 

    I see it as a three element thing; when you're facilitating (as a consultant, expert or thought leader), you're helping this group be: 

    • PRODUCTIVE: you help them get stuff done. 
    • COLLABORATIVE: you help bring people together 
    • CREATIVE: you help them do good work.

     

    The 9 things to do

    I see there are nine things to do or questions to answer in being able to think, design and deliver an effective facilitated workshop or session for a client organisation. These things address what you need to engage with a client about facilitating a session, preparing to facilitate, designing the event and handling what happens during - and after - the session. 

    Looks like this ;-)

    Think about these things; ask yourself about them: 

    1. EXPERTISE

    What’s my expertise? What do I bring to working with a group or facilitating a team? What type of sessions could I facilitate? 

    2. NEEDS

    Who are they? What are their needs? How do I best identify their requirements? Where is the 'gap' I can help them close? 

    3. RESPONSE

    What is my response? How do I propose we close the gap? What is my response to their situation? How will I bring my specialist expertise to their situation? What do I do?

    4. OUTLINE

    What does the session look like? What processes will we use and follow? What type of workshop or session will this be?

    5. AGENDA

    Designing the session, in detail. What will happen, when? How will we make best use of the time available? What games, tools, activities and resources are available to us? What will we do when we all come together? 

    6. FACILITATE

    Conducting the session. What will I do on the day of the event? How do I set up the room or space, run the agenda? What things are needed on the day? How do I start things off? 

    7. ADAPT

    The best-laid plans may need to change. Now what? Handling what happens on the day and dealing with unexpected changes. How do I handle how people respond and work in the session? What if...? 

    8. TECHNIQUES

    Tools, Tips, Techniques & Tricks: these are the approaches, the methodologies, the processes that facilitators have up their sleeve. 

    9. BEYOND

    Wrap Ups, conclusions and ‘What Next?': How will I wrap up the day? How do we make sure we achieved something? What could we do next? How do I make sure there is ongoing opportunity for us to work together? What else could I do to support them with their work? 

     

    New to facilitation?

    If you’re new to facilitation as an expert or consultant, it’s a great time to make a clean start. You can begin to add facilitation into your offer to client businesses. If you’re not already getting this type of work, would you like to? If so, you’ll need some contemporary facilitation skills to design the program or session, run it and get the outcomes needed. In this way you’ll get the most out of their time and their investment of getting everyone in the room on the same day.

     

    Already facilitating? 

    If you’re already facilitating, you can always, always enhance your capability, step-up the type and level of work you can deliver and help your clients get even greater impact and outcomes when you work with them. How might you need to think differently? What other processes or approaches or styles would you like to test out in facilitating your expertise with a client? 

     

    It's very now!

    Facilitation is a way of working with teams and groups that's very 'now'; with increasing requirements for teams to be more collaborative, to co-design and co-create things and for a more diverse team to be sitting around a workplace meeting room, the need for facilitators is greater than it's ever been. 

    Helping people get important work done, and done swiftly and creatively are the reasons why I LOVE working as a facilitator and building the facilitation capability of leaders of all sorts. I think it's one of the greatest leadership capabilities - whether you're a leader of a team or a leader in your own business, and particularly if you're a consultant, expert or thought leader. You know stuff that you can help your clients with; adopting a facilitation approach gets them working on it, together. 

    Building Facilitation Skills

    I enjoy supporting consultants, experts and thought leaders to boost their facilitation capability. In most of my facilitation workshops, I run a policy of 'any question at any time' and so there is always that uncertainty about 'what's going to happen' which is present in the room. This is a good thing to get used to. The uncertainty. It's about being less in control and more comfortable, confident, capable. 

    And even more fun than the questions at any time, I make my workshops on facilitation skills a facilitated experience. Yes, that's very 'meta' isn't it; a workshop on facilitation that is actually facilitated. No PowerPoint, no definitions, no yawn-yawn training. That means we co-create the agenda based on what we want to learn or what our challenges are and then we go through and cover off the content. It's more experiential; you get to see (what I think) is contemporary, effective, business-ready facilitation. Things happen in the room with us during the day and so as the facilitator, I have to handle them. This is how you get to see what to do, how you could handle the stuff that happens. This provides you with a 'real life' environment to see and experience great facilitation skills in practice in the room during the program. 

    Read more about the two-day facilitation skills program I run here for consultants, experts and thought leaders. 


    Monday
    Oct312016

    Beyond being a consultant

    When you’re a consultant, advisor or expert, you spend a lot of your business time delivering advice, working with a client and helping them with your expertise and know-how.

    Sometimes you have to work with more than one person. Perhaps it’s a business owner and some of their staff; maybe it’s a project manager and some of the project team; or it could be a senior leader in an organisation and some of their stakeholders or colleagues. 

    I reckon that every time you’re working with more than one other person, it’s time to put facilitation skills to work. 

    Facilitation means ‘to make easier’. When you’re facilitating, you’re helping to make great progress and to get things done. 

    While a one-on-one conversation often involves coaching or consulting, working with a group of people (say 2 or more) involves using some additional capability - and that capability is facilitation. 

     

    Facilitation : another tool in your toolkit

    Increasingly the capability of facilitation is coming to the fore for consultants, subject matter experts and thought leaders. You find yourself working with your client and some of their team … as a group. And you’re helping them work on something or create something together… as a group.  

    You may have been asked by a client to run a group session, a workshop, work with them at a team day, assist with planning or some other type of gathering.  

    It makes sense to use facilitation. When a client wants to get several people in the room at once and work with them, they want to achieve an outcome.

    That outcome may be to:

    • plan
    • design
    • decide
    • create
    • brainstorm
    • implement
    • solve

    … or other business task or project. 

    As the facilitator, you’ll be able to help them achieve their outcome AND use your incredible expertise, knowledge and advice at the same time. 

     

    Three key outcomes

    Going beyond consulting, I see that you're helping them do three main things. You help them be:

    • PRODUCTIVE: you help them get stuff done. 
    • COLLABORATIVE: you help bring people together 
    • CREATIVE: you help them do good work.

    Looks like this ;-)

    For you as a consultant, going beyond consulting and using facilitation skills, you'll focus on :

    • the work that needs to be done,
    • theway that work will be done,
    • the people who you're working with,
    • and the progress you'll help them make.

     

    It may feel a little 'clunky' at first

    For many consultants, shifting into facilitation mode doesn't come immediately, naturally or automatically. Yes you've likely got ace questioning skills and listening skills but you might be too quick to jump into prescription or solution, to provide 'the answer'.

    As a facilitator, you can draw the answer out; get people more involved. In the long run, they'll have bought in to the process more, having had more of a say.

    So if it feels a little odd or clunky at first, persist. You might find yourself switching from consultant to facilitator, to trainer, to speaker, back to consultant - all the while delivering your expertise, advice and experience in a valuable and helpful way.

    Plan a response, process or approach

    Don't launch into facilitator mode unprepped. Some of the best processes, models and tools for facilitation come from a little thought about what might suit this situation or group best. This doesn't mean control-freak over-engineering an agenda down to the last minute. What it does mean is some thought about where they are, what they need to do, how you can help them do that.

    Next: 9 things to prep

    Next post I'll unpack the nine things I think you need to do when you're adding facilitation to your consulting toolkit and what some of the things are to consider.

    Above all, know you have an extensive range of insight, experience and capability; make sure facilitation is part of how you deliver that expertise.

    With the world all co-creating, contributing and collaborating, it's smart as a consultant to be able to help people get sh*t done in a way that's beyond just consulting.

    Thursday
    Apr182013

    All hail the talented management consultant

    Tomorrow I’m spending the day with a team of management consultants. Imagine the knowledge, ideas, solutions and know-how in that room! Imagine all of the situations they’ve seen and how many times they’ve brought someone or something back from the brink.

    And yes, you might be thinking of jokes, one-liners and other comments about management consultants... but I think at the core of what a management consultant does is helping a client find a solution to a problem or issue, or find a way through to a new way of doing things.

    Tomorrow I’ll be equipping them with some powerful visual thinking skills so they can use in-the-moment visuals (that’s words, shapes, pictures, images – quickly sketched) to give them visual agility.

    I say ‘agility’ because they need to be quick, thinking on their feet or quick to listen and respond…with another question, or a possibility, and help the client 'see' that possibility.

    It’s vital in this information-dense world that they are able to

    • Capture: what the client’s key points are, and to distil the essence of the problem or situation. Then to ...
    • Convey: to pitch and propose, to present and consult on the types of solutions the firm can work with the client on. They will map out the possibilities, show the client what the future can look like and what milestones along the way can get them closer to resolving the issue or creating that situation.

    And then throughout the client/firm engagement, there will be the:

    • Collaboration: meeting after meeting, the many conversations, workshops, brainstorms and innovation discussions – all of that talking can be ‘caught’ so that together the solution will be proposed, adjusted, implemented and embedded.

    The skills will give this team of consultants a shorthand and a shortcut to clarity. Rather than talking back and forth, trying to reach understanding, some key words and concepts will help get to ‘same page’ understanding so both parties know what is to be worked on and how it will happen.

    This team is in for a powerful day. They’ll likely go from “I can’t draw” to using visuals every day in so many situations.

    I’m so excited for them! And for the value their clients are going to receive as a result of this development.

    Yes, now we can hail the (even more) talented management consultant!

    Now, let’s get their kits together of markers, journals and other cool visual tools… lucky I love stationery.