Transition questions are highly effective because you cannot develop a plan, any plan, such as a marketing plan, by asking “What is the marketing plan?”  The question is so broad as to be DUMB.

Three Transition Questions for Clarity and Precision

Three Transition Questions for Clarity and Precision

We have learned during facilitated meetings and workshops, that it’s not easy for participants to respond to broad questions like “How do you solve global hunger?”  While appropriate, the question’s scope is too broad (and perhaps vague) to stimulate specific, actionable responses like “We could convert those abandoned mine shafts in Somalia and create food storage areas.”

Extemporaneous leaders should develop a tendency to modify three core transition questions during meetings instead of asking broad questions like, “Are we OK with this list?” or, “Can we move on?”.   Consider using more structure and precision by relying on transition questions with these three simple, pertinent, and clear questions that can be modified to your own situation:

  • Do we need to clarify anything (eg, on this list)? (First test for clarity and shared understanding only, not necessarily agreement).
  • Do we need to delete anything (eg, from this list)? (Next test for appropriateness, relevancy, and potential redundancy).
  • Do we need to add anything (eg, to this list)? (Finally, scrub for omissions or something significant that needs to be considered in addition to what has been already captured).

The three detailed transition questions make it easier for meeting participants to analyze, agree, and move on.  After participants have agreed they understand, have been provided an opportunity to remove something they cannot support, and have been challenged to add something they may have missed, you are prepared to properly transition.

The clarity and precision of the three transition questions demands more rigorous thinking and encourages the focus most people need to apply thorough analysis.  Make it easier for your participants, avoid the the vague, extemporaneous questions that results in the worst deliverable you could ever develop in a meeting—another meeting.

Reply with any questions you might have by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiatives, refer to our store or consider the book “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need to lead more effective groups, teams, and meetings.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

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 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 numerous 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, CSM, PSPO, 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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