MG RUSH Facilitation Tips are a service to our alumni. Occasionally, we publish several TIPs for public consumption.


We have compiled a compendium of advice, ideas, and clarifications. TIPs are intended to serve as reminders and practical advice for practicing facilitators. Our TIP collection includes contributions from students and alumni, as well as our own experience.


Check back frequently as we expand the collection of TIPs. -Enjoy.


Warming Up A Group

This is a quick and simple approach to initiating dialog between group participants by discovering areas of common interest. This works best with small or mid-size groups, or among subgroups.

2 minutes: Introduction and instructions.

3 minutes: Ask each participant to jot down their favorite hobby, hometown, TV show, sport, brand of automobile, or vacation destination.

5-15 minutes: Have the participants serially visit with each of the members of the group to see who has similar interests.

Optional: 5 minutes: Solicit volunteers to disclose interesting facts discovered about others (complimentary only, of course).

(For more TIPS, please consider taking our FAST course and become registered to use our Alumni resources on this Web site.)

© 2015 Morgan Madison & Company, All Rights Reserved.


Warming Up A Group

This ice breaker is useful for groups that are unfamiliar with each other, or for familiar groups that need some new dimension to their relationships for the purpose of the workshop.

2 minutes: Have each person write their name on a small piece of paper. Have a participant collect the names into a container (e.g., bowl, box). Have each participant pick a piece of paper.

5-10 minutes: Allow a few minutes for each person to find the person named on their piece of paper and “interview” them.

3 minutes: Then, have the participants write a newspaper headline that describes an event or accomplishment of the person named on their piece of paper.

5-10 minutes: Have each person read the headline for the person named on the piece of paper.

(For more TIPS, please consider taking our FAST course and become registered to use our Alumni resources on this Web site.)

© 2015 Morgan Madison & Company, All Rights Reserved.


Record A Whiteboard or Easel for Later Transcription

One approach to recording a whiteboard or easel is to use a digital camera. This approach has the benefit of making easel paper more portable, free up the whiteboard space for additional writing, and allow transcription to occur “off line.”

We use this often when meetings are impromptu and the whiteboard is the only practical tool for recording group notes, and/or when “boarding” ideas and analysis.

How To

Download the photos quickly to your PC so that the information is fresh, should any portion of the photos be illegible.

• Use a camera with sufficient resolution. We recommend 3 megapixel pictures or larger.

• Work in a room light well enough that you can avoid the use of camera flash. If you have the option of disabling the camera flash, and have sufficient natural lighting, turn the flash off to avoid the problem mentioned in the next point . . .

• Be careful to avoid the distortion of the flash. Take the photo at a slight angle. If you are using a flash (or it operates automatically), do not shot your photo straight on. Avoid the bounce of the flash back into the lens.

• Be sure that the entire span of the whiteboard or easel paper is captured in the photo(s). Even if you intend to capture the board/easel in sections, the big view provides a valuable reference later.

• Having advised you to capture the entire writing space, zoom in so that you record text legibly. Take multiple photos if you are concerned about the legibility of the photo. We suggest capturing photos of the board in sections — just in case — to assure legible images for later transcription.

• If possible, preview the digital photo that you’ve just taken to assure yourself of: (a) the field of view that you intended, (b) the legibility of the section of the board/easel that you’ve captured, and (c) that you’ve captured ALL that you intended.

• Cell phone cameras are usually insufficient for the task due to low picture resolution, but this changes with each new generation of phone.

(For more TIPS, please consider taking our FAST course and become registered to use our Alumni resources on this Web site.)

© 2015 Morgan Madison & Company, All Rights Reserved.


Listening To the WHY

We all know that listening is an important skill. We instruct our students to engage in “active” listening. But, what do we hear?

Most listening is the act of being attentive to What the speaker says. Our tip today is to listen for Why the speaker is saying what they are saying.

WHY Is Different Than The WHAT

The Why is very often apparent in personal conversation. You might ask yourself (while a stranger is speaking to you) about why they are telling you about a particular fact or story. Determining the motivation for the speaking is as important if not more so than what is said.

Many of us already know this about our children. When a teenager says “I hate you,” he/she is really saying:

• I’m frustrated

• I didn’t get my way

• I don’t have power to influence you or change your opinion

• I’m embarrassed

• I’m going to hurt you because you hurt me

Chances are, he/she doesn’t really “hate” you.

The Tip

Without trying to be amateur psychologists here, listen for the why when:

• A workshop participant is angry and/or confrontational

• A participant waxes on about something seeming irrelevant, or just waxes on, and on

• A participant is abnormally active or withdrawn

In our classes we advise to confirm what the speaker says. We are also suggesting that as facilitator, you also seek (carefully) to confirm why the speaker has said what he/she has said.

The why may be the most important message coming from the person speaking.

(For more TIPS, please consider taking our FAST course and become registered to use our Alumni resources on this Web site.)

© 2015 Morgan Madison & Company, All Rights Reserved.


Ground Rules for Meeting Facilitation

By now, you have developed a preferred set of ground rules for your workshops. We offer these ground rules as a reminder of rules that others have adopted.

Typical ground rules:

• Arrive and start on time.

• Be prepared for every session.

• Participants share what they know, and avoid withholding information and/or sharing partial truths.

• Withhold judgmental and negative comments about others’ points of view and stated values.

• Aim for a better group, not a better individual, especially in disclosing information, direction, strategies, challenges, and experience.

• Argue only for the benefit of the group, particularly to highlight latent requirements, challenges, or conflicting goals.

• Be specific when presenting requirements.

• Agree to disagree, when necessary; “winning” a disagreement is not an acceptable goal.

• Avoid rhetorical questions, particularly those that start with “Why not . . .” and “Why can’t . . .”

• Be open to being incorrect, ignorant, and out-of-date.

• Keep your humor light and use sparingly; do not make fun at another’s expense.

• Be aware of the decision process, such as by “consensus” or other means.

• Avoid group think, but also avoid contrarian positions (solely for the purpose of being contrarian).

• Include in your agenda: self and group critiques.

(For more TIPS, please consider taking our FAST course and become registered to use our Alumni resources on this Web site.)

© 2015 Morgan Madison & Company, All Rights Reserved.


Change or Die–The Business Process Improvement Manual.change-or-die copy
by Maxine Attong and Terrence Metz

. . . aligns with the PMBoK®v5 from (PMI®) the Project Management Institute and the BABOK® Guide v3 from (IIBA®) the International Institute of Business Analysis™.

“Change or Die” provides a life cycle approach within 250 pages of primary text, supplemented with another 100 pages of workshop agendas, tools, and activities, and a CD containing over 100 tables and templates in electronic form. A nominal investment in this manual will pay for itself many times over.

William Malek, HBR author of “Executing Your Strategy” says: “The CD is worth it alone as the templates are very practical and adoptable in many contexts. I use it for work related to planning the execution of strategy. For anyone facilitating groups, this is a good book and CD to have access to on an ongoing basis!”

If your organization recognizes opportunities to improve, this manual has the content you need, and it uses a consensual technique of shared development and ownership.

FAST alumni will recognize some old tools (eg, Guardian of Change) and some new activities to stimulate group performance. The workshop agendas have been stress tested with clients and are proven to work.

Our publisher, Productivity Press, is an imprint of the publishing house, CRC Press that operates as the science and technology book division of the Taylor & Francis Group. Established in 1783 in the United Kingdom, we are fortunate to be associated with one of the longest established publishers in the history of publishing. Taylor & Francis Group is now the academic publishing arm of Informa plc.

Maxine Attong (co-author, FAST alumni, resident of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago) may be found around the world this year signing copies at various conferences. You can’t miss her world-class smile. Terrence Metz (co-author,FAST alumni, lead instructor, and facilitative leadership curriculum developer) may be found across the United States hosting FAST classes. Either will gladly sign a copy for you and discuss questions you may have about deriving value from our team approach to business process improvement.

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