To develop consensual understanding about the impact of speakers’ content or otherwise newly developed information.


Using speakers as an example, we frequently conduct a question and answer session when the speaker has completed or new information has been provided.  Next we give the speaker a round of applause and take a break or dismiss.  Apparently, the assumption is that we all heard the same thing or that our interpretation will automatically lead to consensual changes and coherent behavior.  Such is not always the case, in fact, sometimes meeting participants take off in opposite directions based on their interpretation of new content.

Consensual Content Management


The following applies optimally before a speakers presentation has begun.  Namely, what the listeners should be on the look out for (take-aways), why we should care (implications), and what we may want to do different that will make us more efficient or effective (recommendations).  Since we are focused on what the participants can do different, it is a good idea to conduct a review session with the same approach, breaking down the “many-to-many” into simpler logic and more manageable takeaways:

  1. Solicit the take-aways such as facts, evidence, or examples newly learned by the meeting participants.  This list provides the WHAT factors.
  2. For each WHAT factor from above (ie, one at a time), develop consensual understanding about the implications and why we care.  Strive to obtain objective measurements that properly scale the gravity of each implication.  This list provides the SO WHAT factors.
  3. For each factor (ie, one at a time), facilitate consensual understanding about what changes in our lives, what we should do different—develop recommendations based on the implications rather the facts.  This list of new behaviors is why we took the time and money to listen to the speaker—it comprises a list of NOW WHATs.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

Facilitation Expert

Terrence Metz is CEO of MG RUSH Facilitation Training and Coaching, the acknowledged leader in structured facilitation training. His FAST Weekly Facilitation blog features over 300 articles on facilitation skills and techniques aimed at helping others lead faster, more productive meetings and workshops that yield higher quality decisions. His clients include program and project managers, senior officers, and the business analyst community among numerous private and public companies and global corporations. As an undergraduate of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and MBA graduate from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, his professional experience has focused on process improvement and product innovation. His aspiration is to make it easier for others to succeed.

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