The primary responsibility of a facilitator is to protect the participants. Furthermore, the facilitator helps drive the group toward its desired deliverable. Since the deliverable is built to serve the participants, people should take priority over the issues.  To some extent, both people and issues are managed by creating an environment that is conducive to productivity. Easier said, than done, to ensure meeting inclusiveness.

The International Association of Facilitators (IAF) aspires for you to:

  • Encourage positive regard for the experience and perception of all participants
    Meeting Inclusiveness

    Cultural Plurality and Meeting Inclusiveness

  • Create a climate of safety and trust
  • Create opportunities for participants to benefit from the diversity of the group
  • Cultivate cultural awareness and sensitivity

Value of Meeting Inclusiveness

Dr Edward de Bono provides expert insight about parallel thinking; ie, there can be more than one correct answer.  Listening to others, their perspective, and rationale will create a more robust product.  Because of selective perception, the aggregation of all points of view provides stronger insight than any single point of view.  When facilitating a group of nine people for example, we are looking for the tenth answer.  The FAST technique refers to this concept as N+1, where N equals the quantity of participants, we are always seeking the +1 perspective, thus encouraging meeting inclusiveness.

Remember to embrace and enforce meeting and workshop ground rules to create a climate of safety and trust. See our discussion on Ground Rules for more specific comments and suggestions.

Diversity, or plurality as we prefer to call it (suggesting the beauty of a mosaic rather than the fracturing of something), is undoubtedly the key to innovation. Embrace de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats (modified to Seven Thinking Hats with the FAST technique to also include the “Process” or royal purple view) or others means of facilitating perspective found in your FAST manual or in other expert sources such as Roger von Oech’s Creative Whack Pack.

Consider special ice breakers, break out sessions, or team building exercises that emphasize the value of plurality because meeting inclusiveness follows integrative exercises. As a result, Scannell and Newstrom offer hundreds of options among other expert tools. Take this opportunity to leverage the tactile sense, and consider some of the professional Legos® activities or others designed to prove the value of plurality and its positive impact on the quality of deliverables.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

To help you access our in-house resources, (e.g., annotated agendas, break timers and templates used in our FAST Professional Facilitation Training) go to the Facilitation Training Store

Furthermore, the FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual. Attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership-training workshop offered around the world. See MG Rush for a current schedule. FAST provides 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, 40 CDUs from IIBA, or 3.2 CEUs).

Finally, don’t forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. Change or Die provides detailed workshop agendas.  It also includes numerous tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective.

We are daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.


Facilitation Expert

Terrence Metz, CSM, CSPF, is the Managing Director of MG RUSH Facilitation Training and Coaching, the acknowledged leader in structured facilitation training. His FAST Monthly Facilitation blog features over 300 articles on facilitation skills and tools aimed at helping others lead faster, more productive meetings and workshops that yield higher quality decisions. His clients include Agilists, Scrum teams, 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 development. He continually aspires to make it easier for others to succeed.

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  1. Sound advice. Relevant in many work situations and especially so when there is conflict. De Bono’s 6 thinking hats can help you get inside other people’s heads and see a problem or dispute from a different angle. Quite often I’ve found that people want the same thing but express things quite differently.

  2. Asking participants to shift other perspectives can also be quite revealing. For example, how would Steve Jobs deal with “this” as opposed to Bill Gates? How would a monastery deal with “this” as opposed to the Mafia? How would the ecosystem manage “this” as compared with an ant colony (ie, highly collaborative species)?

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