Here is a robust for consensual definitions of terms, phrases, or expressions with a group of meeting or workshop participants. Keep in mind that the standards expected in the method below are demanding and include five separate activities, when combined are highly effective. Keep this tool in your hip pocket and be prepared to use it whenever you encounter serious discord over the meaning of something. You may also need this tool when you manage open issues (ie, Parking Lot) and your participants do not agree or cannot remember what something meant.
To build an operational definition of a term or phrase that the group can live with, in its own words, and with its own understanding. Since narrative descriptions alone may fall short of the entire meaning, we also want to support the definition with illustration and examples.
To provide support to a group that needs to consensually arrive at the definition and meaning of something, whether concrete or abstract. This FAST tool supports consensual understanding around terms and phrases but is not robust enough to develop rich definitions for complex ideas like processes, where an entire workshop(s) like Activity Flows may be more useful.
When a term or phrase requires further definition or understanding, it may be best to start with a dictionary definition(s). However, do not use dictionary definitions alone. Rather, offer them as stimulus for the group to draft their own operational definition. The five additional activities include:
- First identify “WHAT THE TERM OR PHRASE IS NOT”.
- Next, compile a narrative sentence or paragraph that generally describes it. Perhaps avoid starting with a blank sheet of paper (ie, use a dictionary or other professional definitions and support).
- Then list the detailed bullets that capture the specific characteristics or specifications of the term or phrase as intended by the participants. For example, with a camera, we might detail requirements for the quantity of mega pixels, zoom range, etc.
- Obtain or build a picture of concrete items or create an illustration of the item if it is abstract or dynamic (eg, process flow).
- Provide at least two actual, real-life examples from the participants’ experience that vivify the term or phrase. For example, a utility bill can be defined, but it is helpful to show an actual invoice (eg, electricity for the period 15JAN20xx to 14FEB20xx).
In conclusion, MG RUSH professional facilitation curriculum focuses on providing methodology. Each student thoroughly practices methodology and tools before class concludes. Some call this immersion. We call it the road to building impactful facilitation skills.
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