Prepared as a Lunch and Learn guide, you will find twelve FAST Structured Facilitation gems worth remembering. They are listed in alphabetical order, rather than order of importance. From the perspectives of curriculum developers, instructors, and students, here are the most significant learnings offered by the FAST curriculum and structured facilitation technique.

Lunch and Learn: FAST Structured Facilitation Gems or Takeaways

Lunch and Learn: Structured Facilitation Takeaways


7:59am preparation and interviews (ie, managing expectations and ownership)

  • Comment: There is no ‘silver bullet’ for effective facilitation.  If you don’t show up prepared, good luck with that.


Active listening (because seeking to understand creates more value than being understood)

  • Comment:  Many understand that reflection is the key. However, reflecting WHY people make claims is more important than simply repeating the claim.


Annotated agenda
 (ie, visualizing everything the session leader does or asks in advance)

  • Comment:  ‘Right-to-left’ thinking (or, ‘starting with the end in mind’) makes demands of the facilitator.  You must know what the deliverable looks like for each agenda step, each meeting activity, and each tool.  Then write it down, so that you can focus on listening during your meeting or workshop, not thinking about what you should say or do next.


Common nouns and purpose give rise to natural categories
 (ie, great tool and inherent rationale that supports grouping or “chunks”)

  • Comment:  Neophytes create categories when they probably should dive into the details.  Most change occurs with HOW activities are performed, not WHAT is being done.  But when categorization is required, building process terms for example, common nouns are symptomatic or indicative of common purpose, the primary reason for categorization.


(ie, the importance of ongoing feedback to ensure continuous improvement)

  • Comment:  Through hours of practice and recorded sessions, FAST five-day professional students receive six pages of individualized, written feedback directed at what they can do different to be more effective.


(ie, interdependent reciprocities—contextual explanation of how it all fits together)

  • Comment:  Commonly referred to as the ‘Butterfly Effect’ (mathematically called inter-dependent reciprocities), every action has an impact (positive or negative) on each project or initiative.


Life Cycle: Plan Acquire Operate Control
 (ie, great tool and inherent rationale behind all life cycle methodologies)

  • Comment:  While the technology perspective is called CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete), here is what the business community does with information.  Every process requires four activities, at minimum.  Subject matter experts often forget about Planning and Control activities that may be performed less frequently, sometimes only monthly or quarterly.


Numeric SWOT leads to consensual actions [ie, WHAT]
 (ie, Easily the best way to prioritize hundreds of items and build consensus around “WHAT” needs to be done to support the purpose)

  • Comment: Capable of prioritizing the most complex issues, with dozens of criteria and options, FAST’s proprietary tool and decision-making logic is used in most portfolio and program management offices.


Right-to-left thinking or, focus on deliverable first
 (ie, starting with the end in mind—forcing the abstract into the concrete)

  • Comment:  Even a lousy facilitator can succeed when they know where they are going and what the group needs to answer and address to get DONE.


“The Purpose is to . . . So That . . . “ (ie, amazing tool to extract the “strategy” behind something too small for a “strategic plan”)

  • Comment:  Easily the favorite new tool for many students and best echoed by an IBM’er with 35 years.  “This is the tool I’ve been missing my entire career.”


(ie, the natural force behind the structure of movement and progress)

  • Comment:  Thoughts, words, and deeds.  Thinking precedes speaking precedes actions.  In grade school we find the trivium taught as WHY, WHAT, and HOW.  Plato called it logic, rhetoric, and grammar.


Website resources (Because ”Alumni get to ride all the rides, as many times as they want.”)

  • Comment:  Because our resources are continuously improved and made more robust, a community of resources made available exclusively to FAST alumni is likely more robust than any one person’s individual effort.

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, 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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