Structured meetings and workshops positively impact organizations and stakeholders—even permeating cultures.  Here are a few straightforward benefits for facilitation training that support structured meetings.

Business wisdom demands the application of knowledge, stuff that is ‘in−formation’ (not static).  Compound dynamism of information with the challenge of organizing a group of people, where nobody is smarter than everybody.  Groups of people fail (or operate at sub-optimal levels) either because they don’t care, don’t have the talent, or don’t know how. Meetings and workshops with structure (aka interactive design❖) have always been stressed by MG RUSH.  Structured facilitation training instructs HOW TO get a group of people to focus on the right question (topicality) at the right time (sequencing).

Structured facilitation training largely teaches you how to think by affecting your greatest power, the power of choice. From choosing which foot to place on the floor first, after rising in the morning, to what to wear when retiring for the evening, each day presents itself with thousands of choices. Without structure, groups are not naturally capable of focusing on the same thing, at the same time. Their choices become confused, chaotic, and sometimes catastrophic. Structured facilitation training is the process of making it easier for people to be more effective leading groups, teams, meetings, and workshops. It includes three primary components: leadership, facilitation, and methodology.

Facilitation Training

Structured Facilitation Training Explains the Holarchy of Decision-making

Three Aspects of Structured Facilitation Training

Structure provides a method for transforming the abstract (thoughts) into the concrete (products). In elementary school, we learned about the WHY, WHAT, and HOW. In professional group environments, they equate to:

  1. Leadership [Why we are doing something],
  2. Facilitation [What you can do to be more effective], and
  3. Methodology [How do you lead a group from the Introduction to the Wrap].

Differences Between Structured Facilitation and “Kum-bah-yah”

The differences between structured and unstructured facilitation training begin with different deliverables. The structured world seeks outputs such as product requirements or the priorities resulting from root cause analysis. The unstructured world seeks outcomes such as community awareness or peace in the Middle East.

Structured VS Unstructured Facilitation Training

With structured facilitation, arguments can be resolved by appealing to the objectives within the structural holarchy. The unstructured world depends on building trust and increasing awareness but has no surefire method for driving consensus. The structured world reminds us that all arguments may be resolved by appealing to enterprise objectives. The unstructured world does not necessarily share any common purpose, scope, or objectives to resolve disagreements.

Structured Facilitation Training Includes

Meetings capture a huge investment of time. Unproductive meetings affect P & L, morale, and the potential growth of your biggest asset, your people. As frequent and important as we attend meetings, little (if any) structured training has been provided to help us become better meeting participants, and more importantly, effective meeting leaders. Creating highly effective meetings depends on improving three areas of your behavioral skills, namely:

  1. WHY — Leadership training ensures that we begin with the end in mind. WHY we are meeting equates with what does DONE look like? The best facilitators in the world will fail miserably if they don’t know where they are going.  The worst facilitators can still succeed when the deliverable is clear and has an impact on the quality of life of their meeting participants.
  2. WHAT — Once it has been made clear where we are going, facilitation skills make it easier to know WHAT to do to ensure a successful meeting. Unfortunately, we have developed poor muscle memory over the years. Some behaviors need to be ‘unlearned’ before new behaviors are embraced. The only way to change such behaviors is through practice and immersion. Talking heads (ie, instructor’s lips are moving) won’t do it. Only active participation and practice will work at instilling effective and facilitative behaviors. 
  3. HOW — Even a great facilitator who knows where they are going (ie, What DONE looks like) still needs help. They need to know HOW they are going to get there. How will they lead a group of people from the meeting Introduction to the Wrap?  While the best methodology or approach (ie, Agenda) has more than one right answer, there is one wrong answer — if the meeting leader does not know HOW they are going to do it.

Practical Benefits of Structured Facilitation Training

  • Analysis of business requirements:  policies (WHY), rules (WHAT), and procedures (HOW) 
  • Application environments such as AGILE, Design Sprint, DMAIC, JAD, Kaizen, Kanban, Lean, LeSS, RUP, SAFe, SAP, Scrum, SDLC (waterfall), SOA, and XP
  • Business agility, architecture, holistic decision-support, product development, process improvement, and program alignment
  • Popular deliverables including gap analysis, planning of all sorts, prioritization with levels of increasing complexity, and team and project charters
  • Project and portfolio management approaches that demand consensus-based prioritization
  • Work products like Daily Stand-ups, Kick-offs, Innovation and Creativity Sessions, Logical Models, Look-backs, Product Backlogs, QFD, Retrospectives, Reviews, Root Cause Analysis, SIPOC, Stand-ups, Use-Cases, and User Stories

Help Yourself to Some Additional Revenue Too

Because innovation drives profit, most people have ignored structure to secure breakthrough ideas. Understand why listening to the voice of the customer makes economic sense.

The poor evaluation of ideas represents the number one cause of failure for newly introduced products. Frequently customers either don’t need the new product (i.e., technology push) or the product does not work as expected. Structured facilitation improves the quality of evaluation and decision-making, ensuring that the best concepts become commercialized.

Focus groups stress qualitative aspects and may not effectively represent the market at large. Offline research tends to be overly quantitative and sterile, frequently subject to close-ended questions/ answers when conditional knowledge may be more important to informed decisions. While one-on-one interviews afford deep probes, they confine the knowledge to what already exists; i.e., they stay “in the box”.

Surveys help track results but lack the ability to provide leading indication of unmet needs and unexplored issues. Web-based discussions drive further, but do not support solid decision-making principles. Concept testing provides qualitative feedback, but alone lacks the quantitative rigor needed to support decisions. Conjoint analysis, also known as “Com-Pair” (and other terms), supports decision-making but does not help generate new ideas or options.

Structured Workshops Integrate the Best of All Methods

Structured workshops generate breakthrough ideas, create strategies, and ensure alignment with more customers. Group dynamics stimulate, leading to higher quality ideas and decisions. However, without solid facilitation, dominant personalities may introduce bias. Starting with customer pain points and leveraging the input from other methods mentioned above, a collaborative approach will always generate higher quality decisions than those made in a vacuum or subjected to seen and unseen biases.

Facilitation training prepares you to challenge with reflexive questioning, the “pregnant pause”, and other tips to secure evidence and support. Nobody is smarter than everybody, especially in the hands of a professional facilitator.

 

[1]Wisdom To Inspire

[2]I’m Still Learning

______

Finally, 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.

Become Part of the Solution While You Improve Your Facilitation, Leadership, and Methodology Skills

Take a class or forward this to someone who should. MG RUSH Professional Facilitation Training provides an excellent way to earn up to 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, 40 CDUs from IIBA, and 3.2 CEUs. As a member of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF), our Professional Facilitation Training aligns with IAF Certification Principles and fully prepares alumni for their Certified Professional Facilitator designation.

Furthermore, our Professional Facilitation curriculum immerses students in the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. Because nobody is smarter than everybody, attend an MG RUSH Professional Facilitation, Leadership, and Methodology workshop offered around the world, see MG RUSH for a current schedule.

Go to the Facilitation Training Store to access our in-house resources. You will discover numerous annotated agendas, break timers, and templates. Finally, take a few seconds to buy us a cup of coffee and please SHARE.

In conclusion, we dare 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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