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Scope creep kills projects. It also kills meetings.

The consensual sphere of Concern, Influence, and Control helps a group become mindful of aspects that could alter the groups attitudes, beliefs, and decisions. The consensual sphere of Concern, Influence, and Control helps a group to focus, on one issue at a time, or one aspect at a time.

The single most important responsibility of a facilitator is to protect the people or meeting participants. The next most challenging responsibility however is to to make it easy for a group to focus on one issue at a time.

The consensual sphere of Concern, Influence, and Control helps separate a discussion into aspects the group controls, aspects they influence, and aspects about which they have no control or significant influence. Since groups seldom perform effectively using a linear approach, consider using a “Book End” approach for analyzing the sphere of Concern, Influence, and Control. Following are the steps required that can be used to analyze most lists, including prioritizing a list of criteria.



Scope Creep Kills: Facilitate Concern, Influence, and Control

Concern, Influence, and Control


Effective facilitators shy away from working lists in a linear fashion. The purpose of using a bookend approach is to develop a natural habit of squeezing the grey matter towards the middle, rather than wasting too much time on it.


Groups tend to argue about grey matter that frequently does not affect the decision anyway. For instance, with PowerBalls, you can envision participants arguing whether something is more important than moderate yet less important than high. We know from experience that the most important criteria drives most decisions, so bookends helps us identify the critical stuff quickly.


After you have compiled a list of criteria or aspects, compare and contrast them with the simple process explained below:

  • Ask “Which of these is the most important?” (as defined by the PowerBalls displayed). With the consensual sphere, our question would be “Which of these is within our control?”
  • Next ask “Which of these is the least important?”  With the consensual sphere, our question would be “Which of these is a concern because it is beyond our control?”
  • Then return to the next most important . . .
  • And to the next least important . . .
  • Until the list has been squeezed into the remaining one- third that is moderate..
  • If comparing or contrasting Influence, consider asking . . .
    • Which is most similar?
    • Which is least similar?
    • Repeat until one-third remain as moderate.
  • For Control consider asking . . .
    • What is your greatest strength?
    • What is your greatest weakness?
    • Repeat until one-third remain as moderate.


Don’t ruin your career or reputation with bad meetings. Register for a class or forward this to someone who should. Taught by world-class instructors, MG RUSH  professional facilitation curriculum focuses on practice. Each student thoroughly practices and rehearses tools, methods, and approaches throughout the week. While some call this immersion, we call it the road to building impactful facilitation skills.

Our courses also provide an excellent way to earn up to 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, and 40 CDUs from IIBA, as well as 3.2 CEUs for other professions. (See individual class descriptions for details.)

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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 Facilitation Best Practices 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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