Say your organization or client needs to bring together multiple stakeholder views. As the facilitator, your fundamental challenge working with diverse boundaries and perspectives will be how to overcome partial views arising from different disciplines, departments, sectors, and participant diversity. This takes time.
When designing meetings and sessions around complex topics, adopt conversation and dialogic methods that foster respectful communication and collective learning across the boundaries of:
- Different (and partial) knowledge bases/perspectives.
- Different cultures, beliefs, values and acceptable practices and behaviours.
- Different vocabulary, language, and meaning / interpretation of ideas and facts.
- Non-existent or inadequate links/ connections between units, divisions, groups, organizations.
Whereas the convenor will often be under enormous pressure to make decisions and act fast, the reality is that diverse stakeholders are unlikely to support a chosen path of action without their full participation, mutual understanding, and inclusive solutions. When engaging across diverse perspectives, go slow at first to build common ground and a shared based of information. Invest in fostering trust-based relationships from which innovative and supported solutions can emerge and be implemented.
Just starting out? These courses will enhance your facilitation confidence and empower you with solid foundational skills: The Confident Facilitator; The Skillful Facilitator.
Seeking to become a more agile and professional facilitator?
Perhaps you are assisting a group over time to resolve issues, generate new directions, improve team performance or develop innovative solutions. What can you expect as you scope out and design more complex facilitated sessions?
MORE COMPLEXITY: Usually a greater diversity of perspectives and views must be considered, balanced and reconciled, before it is possible to generate consensus and commitment. You’ll need to design processes to build mutual understanding between partial views.
HIGHER STAKES: The outcomes of such meetings matter to the organization’s goals. Success is important, and so is the downside of not succeeding. Make sure your pre-session scoping is rigorous and involves more than just your client.
DESIGN MATTERS: Your facilitation must rely on a thoughtful process to help the group achieve desired outcomes. It is essential for you to have the right process framework to follow, and to know where you are in the process. There is a sequence to what questions must be answered before other work can be tackled. Professional facilitators invest as much as 2-4 hours in design work for every hour of facilitated group process.
LONGER MEETINGS: As a result of all the above, more time is needed to achieve desired outcomes, extending to several days, and sometimes weeks and months. Having an expanded facilitation toolkit is essential to your nimbleness and ability to keep sessions productive, and participants engaged and energized.
Ever see or hear this type of exchange at the water cooler? The sad truth is that if meetings have a bad name, it is often because there isn’t a good reason for one.
As a meeting convener, your first task is to explore if the desired outcomes could be achieved through a more effective avenue.
For information-sharing meetings, here are nine effective meeting tips you might want to consider: Continue reading “Do We Need to Meet?”