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The most important action most people take every day is to make choices, to decide. Properly made decisions amplify productivity. Choose wisely when to work alone, speak with another person, or call for a team meeting. Here are five compelling reasons to host facilitated sessions:

Host Facilitated Sessions

Host Facilitated Sessions

Why host facilitated sessions? The advantages to a structured meeting or workshop include:

  1. Higher quality results: groups of people generally make higher quality decisions than the smartest person in the group. Facilitated sessions encourage the exchange of different points of view. Structure enables groups to identify new options. In fact, any person or group with more options at its disposal makes higher quality decisions.
  2. Faster results: facilitated sessions accelerate the capture of information. Faster output results when meeting participants (aka subject matter experts) arrive prepared. Participants arrive with an understanding of the questions and issues at hand.
  3. Richer results: by pooling skills and resources, diverse and heterogeneous groups develop more specific details and anticipate future demands, subsequently saving time and money in the project or program life-cycle.
  4. People stimulate people: properly facilitated sessions can lead to innovation and the catalyst for innovative opportunities because multiple perspectives generate a richer (360 degree) understanding of a problem or challenge, rather than a narrow, myopic view.
  5. Transfer of ownership: facilitated sessions motivate further action by creating deliverables that support follow-up efforts. Professional facilitators use a method that builds commitment and support from the participants, rather than directing responsibility at the participants.

To Host Facilitated Sessions

Conducting facilitated sessions includes preparatory time, actual contact time during the session, and follow-up time as well. Therefore, successful sessions depend upon clearly defined roles, especially distinguishing between the role of facilitator and the role of methodologist (that are also discrete from the role of scribe or documenter, coordinator, etc.). To ensure getting done faster, carefully managed sessions embrace ground rules.

Thorough preparation and advance effort before the session ensure higher productivity:

  • Researching both methodological options and content to be explored
  • Review and documentation of minutes, records, findings, and group decisions that affect the project being supported with this particular meeting or workshop session
  • Completion of individual and small group assignments prior to sessions

Professional and structured facilitation generates high-involvement among all participants. Therefore, appropriate terms for describing them include workshops or workouts. Consequently, avoid an overly ambitious agenda and plan for at least two, ten-minute breaks every four hours. Use our MG RUSH ten-minute timers to ensure that breaks do not extend to eleven or twelve minutes. Strive to provide dedicated resources, such as a facilitator professionally trained in structured methods.

Discourage unplanned interruptions, especially through electronic leashes. “Topless” meetings are increasingly popular, meaning no laptops or desktop devices (eg, smartphones). Allow exceptions for accessing content needed to support the session. “No praying underneath the table” is another expression used to discourage people from using their gadgets on their laps, presumably beyond the line of sight of others, when in fact, everyone can see what they are doing anyway. For serious consensual challenges or multiple day sessions, sessions should be held away from the participants’ everyday work site to minimize interruptions and everyday job distractions.

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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.)

Want a free 10-minute break timer? Signup for our once-monthly newsletter HERE and receive a timer along with four other of our favorite facilitation tools, free.

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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