Recently on a blog, an informal group of mathematicians solved a tough and long-standing mathematics problem in a few weeks. Additionally an MG RUSH alumnae wrote about preparing for an executive workshop and how to facilitate Europeans and Asians between two different companies.
The following captures considerations on how to facilitate scientists, as well as considerations on how to facilitate Asians and Europeans.
First, How to Facilitate Scientists
The virtual session leader (Tom Gowers) used his blog to post ideas and progress. He encouraged others to contribute, expecting many minds to be more powerful than his alone. Within an hour of his first posting, three people scattered around North America commented, and six weeks later, the problem was solved. Here is an example of an ever increasing body of scientists who have used networking to solve complex problems and to speed up the delivery of answers and options.
Value Derives When You Facilitate Scientist Because Nobody is Smarter than Everybody
Linking scientists together, face-to-face or virtually, can dramatically speed up the rate of discovery. Empirical evidence shows that more options (ie, discovered) lead to higher quality decisions. Some argue that crowdsourcing results are so profound that life as we know it will fundamentally change over the next few decades. When you facilitate scientists, more is clearly better.
To facilitate scientists, provide them a method, and effective methods are dependent on neutral facilitation. They also need a deliverable that will not threaten their independent research, findings, and publications.
Why Wikis Fail
Corporate wikis rely on an environment of sharing and collaboration. When wikis fail, it is frequently attributable to weak or non-existent moderation (ie, facilitation). In your organizational or corporate environments with a shared holarchial sense of purpose, scope, and objectives, facilitation is frequently the only missing ingredient to breakthrough thinking and innovation.
Eventually we’ll come to realize that humanity sits atop our holarchy, and with an effective facilitator and collaborative environment, discover that no problem is too complex to solve. Keep in mind that there are only three reasons why groups fail:
- They don’t have the proper talent,
- They don’t have the right attitude (ie, apathetic or don’t care),
- or, They don’t know how (to succeed as a group)
The professional MG RUSH technique leads the HOW TO effort. Combined with an appropriate method, our talented scientists are capable of “Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science” (a book by Michael Nielsen, a pioneer in the field of quantum computing).
Next, Considerations to Facilitate Asians and Europeans
The alumnae’s two different companies required a strategy document of their alliance to work with each other in a common supply chain. Specifically the alumnus inquired about anything in particular to avoid or encourage.
Specific Solution on How to Facilitate Asians and Europeans
Speak with the participants to confirm their explicit expectations and then manage accordingly. When conducting confidential, one-on-one interviews, participants will speak more openly about “anything in particular to avoid or encourage.”
Basic Considerations on How to Facilitate Asians and Europeans
- Icebreakers: Consider ice breaker activities that allow participants to share some of their social values, such as asking about a favorite childhood memory or describing their favorite holiday (ie, vacation) destination and activities.
- Names: Since an effective facilitator will NOT use people’s names, rather substitute open hands and eye contact to draw in participation and to pass the talking stick. During breaks and social times, or when discussing administrivia such as evening plans, strive to use people’s last names and titles, including respect toward academic and medical titles. During private introductions, handshakes are a reasonable default standard, perhaps with a slight bow—avoid hugging, arm humping, and shoulder thwacking as too much physical contact.
- Protocol: Emphasize the difference in roles. For example, we treat our parent different than we treat our children. We may treat customers different from suppliers. During the workshop, emphasize leaving titles and roles on the other side of the threshold so that everyone has permission to speak freely. When the Joint Chiefs meet, they may wear sweaters over their military stars, so that four-star generals do not claim superiority over three-star generals in a workshop environment. If the armed forces can encourage equality of voice, so can we.
- Punctuality: Punctuality is important. Keep your stated promises about when to start, including after breaks and meals. If not, your broken promise will frustrate participants and cause some to challenge the integrity of the session leader. If the session leader claims punctuality but permits delayed starting time, they may be seen as someone who cannot be trusted. Be sure to use MG RUSH timers to get people to return from breaks and start on time. If necessary, offer a ten-minute break every fifty minutes, but start on time.
Additional Considerations on How to Facilitate Asians and Europeans
- Rhetoric: Avoid slang, colloquialisms, and American jargon. It is not uncommon for Europeans and Asians to speak in English and understand each other better than an American. While facilitating and providing reflection, stick closely to verbatim words and expressions rather than “interpreting.” If the participants felt there was a better term or expression, they would have used it the first time. Unless the participant asks for language assistance, be patient and avoid volunteering content, unless asked.
- Breakout Groups: Use breakout group frequently during the agenda, especially during the ideation step within brainstorming. Plan your break-out sessions based on knowledge from interviews. Appoint a CEO (ie, chief easel officer) for each group. Strive to creatively assign group titles or names that harmonize with the theme of the workshop (eg, star constellations). Simply calling out 1,2, 3 indicates that the activity was not important enough to plan further. Understand methodologically that some times it is appropriate to create homogenous groups (ie, think alike) and other times it may be advantageous to create heterogeneous groups (ie, embrace pluralism).
Commonalities to Facilitate Scientists or to Facilitate Asians and Europeans
Be certain to secure pre-meeting buy-in about the purpose, scope, and deliverables from the workshop. Ideally, explain your agenda through a metaphor or analogy. Next, assure that the method will engage the participants and not drag on and bore them. If you keep them engaged and focused, you will clearly have made it easier for them to build and decide. Do not discount the importance of a formal review and wrap-up. Plan on an approach the group accepts in advance to manage action steps or roles and responsibilities. Invest some time in the MG RUSH Guardian of Change so that they agree on their primary messaging to other executives and stakeholders at the conclusion of the workshop. Moreover, be sure to obtain some feedback on your performance, so that you may continuously improve your talents as an effective, facilitative leader.
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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