Structured facilitation was created for running more effective meetings and workshops. When consensus is critical yet perspectives differ, structure enables a facilitator to integrate the valuable pieces of disparate views, thus building consensus while improving decision-making quality.
The best synonym for structured meetings is methodology or the series of questions that get a group to agree. For example, if your deliverable is a marketing plan, the unstructured approach asks “What should be in the marketing plan?” People will then argue for the duration of the meeting.
Structure saves time and money because it suggests that “Y” is a function of “X”. For complex topics, there are big “X”s and little “x”s. You have all seen a similar mathematical expression:
Y = f (X) + (X) + (x) + (x)
Structure forces the meeting leader to prepare in advance the specific questions and optimal topical flow for each “X”, one at a time. When results are aggregated, the complete view begins to form, built on shared understanding rather than rambling discussions.
For example, to solve global hunger, you can’t ask “What can you do to solve global hunger?” because the question is too broad. You are asking for the “Y”. We know that hunger is a function of food creation, food distribution, food storage, nutrition absorption, etc. Therefore, ask for the “X” such as “What can we do to increase food storage capacity in Somalia?” (note the tightened scope).
Structure becomes the method or HOW TO get a group from the meeting introduction to the meeting wrap. Many good facilitators struggle because they understand the ‘soft skills’ of facilitation but lack the structure and know how to build consensus around complex issues and topics. Without structure you will witness . . .
- Meetings that go off track and become rambling forums for the loudest voices in the room
- Participants that disengage (or worse, stare at mobile devices)
- Meeting cultures where people show up unprepared or disinterested
- Rising conflict with negative attitudes, dysfunctional behavior, and political resistance
You should care. Because, if you personally lead meetings, teams, and groups of people, a structured technique will make you more successful as a leader, facilitator, and methodologist.
The FAST structured facilitation technique was created for running more effective meetings and workshops because you can’t afford the problems listed above.
FAST is the only known holistic technique for structuring the input of various and complex perspectives, galvanizing a consensual outcome that everyone will own and support. With consensus, as opposed to voting, you develop a win-win situation. FAST structured facilitation is designed to help you win and it begins by teaching you HOW TO THINK.
Based on extensive research of effective facilitation and many, many hours of intensive field testing of new methodologies, the FAST technique (approaches and tools) reflects the modern organization: distributed, electronic, and multi-cultural, with a heavy emphasis on quality and project management excellence.
More effective meetings depend on improving three areas of your behavior, namely:
- WHY — Leadership training ensures that we begin with the end in mind. WHY we are meeting equates with what does DONE look like? The best facilitators in the world will fail miserably if they don’t know where they are going. The worst facilitators can still succeed when the deliverable is clear, and has an impact on the quality of life of the meeting participants.
- WHAT — Once it has been made clear where we are going, facilitation skills make it easier to know WHAT to do to make a meeting successful. Unfortunately, we have developed poor muscle memory over the years. Some behaviors need to be ‘unlearned’ before new behaviors are embraced. The only way to change such behaviors is through practice and immersion. Talking heads (ie, instructor’s lips are moving) won’t do it. Only active participation and practice will work at instilling effective and facilitative behaviors.
- HOW — Even a great facilitator who knows where they are going (ie, What DONE looks like) still needs help. They need to know HOW they are going to build consensus and get a group of people from the meeting Introduction to the Wrap. While the best methodology or approach (ie, Agenda) has more than one right answer, there is one wrong answer — if the meeting leader does not know HOW they are going to do it.
When you take a trip for example, first you need to know WHERE you are going (and of course, WHY you are going there). HOW you get there reflects numerous options and various criteria. For short-distance trips, for example, most of us could take a motorized vehicle, walk, ride a bicycle, etc. FAST is designed to optimize HOW you get from the meeting introduction to the meeting conclusion, on time and with results everyone will support.
This is NOT about singing Kum Bay Yah. The FAST technique accelerates information gathering, drives meeting results through disciplined analysis, and improves the quality and transparency of decision-making.
FAST works, and based on alumni feedback, it works immediately. Read some of the testimonials, including those from recent classes (by our standards, the most important). Everyday we are helping thousands of alumni run more effective meetings, thus helping them exceed personal and project objectives faster than they would have without understanding HOW TO think when dealing with groups of people from various cultures with multiple beliefs and individual values that seem to yield contrary choices and behavior. While not for the faint hearted, you will leave our class inspired, competent, and adding more value than ever for the benefit of your career and your organization.
MG RUSH FAST Professional Facilitation has provided the foundation for successful meetings and workshops worldwide by supporting:
- Application environments such as JAD, OLAP, SAP, SOA, and UML
- Business agility, analytics, architecture, intelligence, decision-support, and portfolio alignment, and process improvement models
- Life-cycles such as AGILE, DMAIC, Kaizen, Lean, RUP, SCRUM, Six Sigma®, SCM, and SDLC
- Our most popular deliverables that include gap analysis, planning of all sorts, prioritization with six levels of increasing complexity (and appropriate tool for each), and team and project charters
- Work products such as Daily Standups, Kick-offs, Logical Models, Product Backlogs, QFD, Requirements Gathering, Retrospect, Root Cause Analysis, SIPOC, Use-Cases, and User Stories
MG RUSH FAST refines the governance and ownership of information and decision-making with proven results:
- Capacity building for nonprofits, NGOs, and management support organizations
- Clear and traceable assumptions, preferences, and decisions
- Documented governance and ownership of information and decision-making
- Fewer omissions resulting in costly changes
- Up to 400 percent reduction of total resources compared to individual interviews
Primary features of MG RUSH FAST Professional Facilitation are:
- Extensive reference manual that covers the life-cycle of facilitated workshops including facilitator skills, group dynamics, managing conflicts, meeting agendas and preparation, project planning, and visual aids.
- Five-day FAST Professional Facilitation Training—frequently called “THE boot camp” for facilitators, producing some of the finest facilitators in the world.
- Dozens of hours of practice and daily personal feedback, including five written pages.
- Commitment to continual updates of our content and improvements with electronic access to hundreds of templates/ support materials to conduct your own meetings, workshops, and presentations.
- Availability of continuing professional development through our Advanced Facilitation training that enables experienced facilitators to expand their abilities and continue to grow as facilitators.
- Continual fine-tuning and improvement of our technique through our own (and alumni) in-field application of FAST as regular, practical facilitators—we practice what we preach!