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30 sec facilitation

Credits for this idea goes to my wife, thanks Jaana!

Have you ever been facilitating an all-day session, where teams are trying to find improvement to their work? If yes, have you ever been in situation where people are all day talking about “quality” or “communication” when you strongly feel they should talk something else?

The story: I once facilitated a session where topic was — yes — “Quality”. Yellow stickers were posted, energies were high and lot of ideas came up. Then, at 2 p.m. on a coffee break someone said: “We always have the same ideas on the wall. Nothing ever happens. We never do anything we agree in workshops”. Bang! What a devastating piece of news. I felt all the effort was lost.

30 sec facilitation. After the normal opening rituals, I always ask people to come up with expectations (goals) for the day. In “30 sec facilitation” I let people start thinking the day’s topic in small groups. I interrupt them almost immediately. Then I take a large PostIt note and a thick pen, and write there “QUALITY”. I post it up and say: “Now, I have saved you at least half day worth of effort. I know you were going to propose we talk about quality. I ask you to stop and think further: we need to find out your real problems — not the most politically-correct discussion topics“.

Yes, I know, facilitator should not worry about finding the right problem. Participants will find it out eventually. And I know that this kind of attack can interfere with trust and atmosphere in the workshop. I will still give this a try, if I know the people and I get a feeling that workshops turn into “a great alternative to working”. Wakeup call is sometimes needed, if group working is nothing more than a nice get-together.

Categories: Facilitation, Team work
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