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Facilitating business requirements captures substantially different challenges than facilitating Kum-Ba-Yah community forums and other volunteer-based meetings. While active listening serves both scenarios, decision-making that supports most business initiatives differs from win-lose voting methods.

Frequently, business facilitators are not seeking agreement, rather harmony. The difference follows. Agreement suggests that everyone is singing the same note, perhaps even with the same instrument. Boring. Reminiscent of the railroad industry trying to protect itself, rather than redefining its role as transportation and logistics.

Harmony implies we are seeking an outcome where everyone’s musical note or expression is heard, from whatever instrument they play. Successful facilitation provides appropriate structure so that deliverable capture all instruments and all tones, like a symphony. The sound of cicadas every few years represents agreement. The music of Pyotr Tchaikovsky reflects a symphonic movement.

Structured Decision-Making

When seeking consensual understanding, as in in decision-making for example, the right structure makes it easier for your participants. Consider the PowerBall approach when you can help drive a group toward a simple decision surrounding a well-articulated question (eg, What should we buy?).

For complicated situations, use the Scorecard approach that separates fuzzy from SMART criterion. By applying weightings you generate a quantitative score to compare your options. For highly complex situations like portfolio management, always embrace the SWOT analysis (introduced to the MG RUSH curriculum in its advanced form in 2004). In the facilitator’s world, our approach to SWOT is like comparing a Tchaikovsky composition to playing the same note over and over on a kazoo.

Decision-Making Matrix, Facilitating Kum-ba-yah

Structured Decision-Making Matrix

Harmony Over Agreement

As facilitators, our business constraints rarely afford the time and luxury of sitting around the campfire singing Kum-Ba-Yah and building trust. Therefore, build your structure in advance. Then lead the method best suited to reconcile the business challenges and trade-offs you expect. Everyone agreeing will keep you in the box, suffocating innovation. But with harmony you don’t even see the box, as you lead to the creation of a solution that no single participant envisioned when they entered your workshop.

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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.)

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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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