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We encourage professional facilitators to carry a toolbox. Include some intervention devices when you need to shake up your participants. Be prepared to challenge groupthink if you start hearing things like . . .

challenge groupthink

  • That will never change.

  • We don’t things like that around here.

  • etc.

. . . then you may want to jolt your participants. We have covered similar exercises in the past such as the “Four Dots” and “Bookworm”. Here is another example that is quick, simple, and effective.  Some call it the “Spot.”

Groupthink: Your Goal

To shake up a paradigm, challenge groupthink. Otherwise, get your participants to focus on the CONTEXT of something in addition to the CONTENT.

Groupthink: One Halting Method

Using a large flip chart, or distributing white sheets of paper, place a small, colored spot or a few colored spots on the paper. Ask the participants to indicate what they see on the paper.

Most of them, and usually in sequence, will indicate they see a “Green Spot” (or any color you choose). Consider using the white space on the easel to tally the number of same or similar responses.

While confirming that you also see the spot(s), NOTE that most individuals overlooked a large amount of white space surrounding the dots. Participants frequently miss or under-appreciate the context around us or the deliverable (be it a decision, a plan, etc.). You may point to the importance of interpersonal relationships at work as an example.

Additionally, you may point out that customers tend to identify the blemishes in our products and services, and frequently have a reasonable expectation for them to be fixed. Likewise, management focuses on the “dots” of our projects or personal performance, failing to properly value the vastness of good, solid contributions and effort.

Conclude by sharing that while it may be appropriate to look for the “spots”, that we should also force ourselves to consider the large white area of equal importance. If there is any unique contribution or answer besides “dots” emphasize how that voice may have been discounted when the rest of the group focused on the “dots”, when in fact that solo voice may have been speaking about something far more important than the rest of the group combined.

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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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