This posting is the first in a series intended for the new PACT Process practitioners who will facilitate the Project Steering Team meetings, analysis meetings, and design meetings of the PACT Processes for T&D.
Guidelines and Rules for the Facilitation of the PACT Processes
The PACT Processes are a set of lean-ISD methodologies and processes that require a skillful facilitator to drive group processes for analysis and design purposes. They can even be used for the facilitation of all project gate review meetings.
The style of facilitation required is not the more typical laid-back style of “sideline process coaching.” It is more proactive, deliberate, driven, and leading (where and when possible and appropriate). It is intended to accelerate a group of individuals selected for a specific purpose with generating a specific set of data in a specific format.
The PACT Process facilitator knows what the outputs will look like, what kind of data is to be captured, and what process steps (and flexibility) will enable the data to be derived and captured in the quickest manner. The group, or team, is brought together to provide the inputs to the process (the actual data captured). They are also used to ensure that there is a consensus regarding the data captured (or to flag the areas of dispute).
The PACT Process facilitator’s job is to ensure both the quality and quantity of the outputs/outcomes/products produced from the group/team. The group/team should be organized to represent the various constituencies appropriate to the project and to accelerate the collection of the various types of data for that particular point in the process.
Sometimes the processing of the team is to conduct
• Planning activities
• Analysis activities
• Design activities
• Development activities
• Debriefing activities
• Project Steering Team gate review meetings
The PACT Process Facilitator
The key knowledge and skills required by the PACT Process facilitator are many and are similar to the skills required by any facilitator using any facilitation style. They include the following:
• Detail orientation
• Conceptual (versus literal)
• Strategic versus tactical thinking
• Ability to suggest ideas
• Ability to create models
• Ability to work “bottom-up”
• Ability to work “top-down”
• Ability to flex process without sacrificing result
• Ability to deal with ambiguity
• Ability to deal with technical/unfamiliar content
• Values diversity of ideas, people, etc.
• Willingness to use/values a common process
• Ability to interpret data
• Organization (“being organized”)
• ISD competency
• Learning process management
• Training logistics and administration
Of course, there are many other knowledge and skills required, but these seem to be key.
The PACT Processes to Facilitate
The specific PACT Processes to be facilitated are not always meetings of groups, although group/team meetings are the most difficult facilitation applications for the PACT practitioner.
The group meetings and small group or one-on-one meetings include the following:
• Initial meeting of the T&D requester and other key stakeholders
• Project Steering Team gate review for Phase 1: Project Planning & Kick-off
• Meetings needed to gather target audience data
• Analysis Team meeting(s)
• Facilitation of the assessment of the existing T&D
• Project Steering Team gate review for Phase 2: Analysis
• Design Team meetings for Phase 3 in CAD, MCD, and IAD projects
• Project Steering Team gate review for Phase 3: Design
• Implementation Planning meeting in Phase 4
• Project Steering Team gate review for Phase 4: Implementation Planning
• Project Steering Team gate review for MCD Phase 5: Pilot Test
Proactive versus Reactive Facilitation
The key difference between the facilitation of the PACT Processes for T&D and most other types of group process facilitation is the amount of involvement and energy put forth by the PACT Process facilitators.
They need to be more proactive rather than more reactive. They must drive the process from the front seat and make things happen, rather than provide reflections to the group from the back seat as the group meanders or drives themselves. They are in control of the process that involves the group; they are not bystanders.
In the PACT Processes for T&D, the facilitators own the process, while the team being facilitated owns the content. That’s why each party is on the payroll and in the room that particular day.
PACT Facilitator Guidelines and Rules Overview
The following are the general guides and rules for facilitation of the PACT Processes and for many others, but not all other types, processes, and methods of facilitation. As with many things in life, one size does not fit all. It almost always “depends.”
The PACT approach to group facilitation is not always the right approach anytime facilitation is required. You must first determine the situational lay of the land and then decide if you should be proactive (even confrontational, if required) or reactive and more laid back in your approach with the group.
There are many judgment calls required by the PACT Process facilitator. Thinking on your feet is just one of the “all-day-long” requirements.
Group dynamics, organizational politics and culture, the specific topics or situations you are dealing with in the group meeting, and the outputs/outcomes you are striving for all have to be taken into account in determining which style to use.
And then there are the meetings where you plan to start off one way and then are forced to switch back and forth in your styles/behaviors. You do what you need to, exactly to the plan you proactively created, or not. Tricky, eh? It’s a jungle out there!
The general guides and rules for facilitating the PACT Processes for T&D include
1. Go Slow to Go Fast
Yikes! Go slow to go fast? We’re almost always in a hurry and time is a wastin’. Patience grasshopper!
Most time eaters/wasters in business meetings are due to the hurry up syndrome to which we typically let ourselves fall prey. “Just do it!” And then redo it. And often enough to make us all dread meetings, redo it again! The iterative nature of rework should cause us to stop and ponder just what the heck is going on and how we can stop it!
We seem to be able to always find the time to redo work in most of those instances where we just couldn’t seem to take the time to “do it right the first time.” (Don’t you just love/hate slogans!)
We forget to front-end load our meetings. We typically do a poor job in presenting, discussing, and rationalizing our ultimate objectives, our desired meeting outcomes, the meeting process and methods we intend to employ, and the roles and responsibilities for each person in the process, etc. We don’t carefully get everyone on board before we take off. And then we pay dearly in costly, inefficient work and the downstream rework.
We seem to feel that because we (or someone else) said it once, and therefore the intent of the message was sufficiently conveyed, that we’re done with that and it’s time to do the deep dive and get on with it! Yikes is right.
Slow down! Sloowww waaaaayyyyy doooowwwwnnnnnnnn.
The slower you go in your meeting start-up mode, the quicker you’ll get to your termination point with the right stuff, better stuff, etc. The more time spent on ensuring that all of the participants—who each brought their own personalized styles and capabilities, thank you very much—get themselves mentally on board with your agenda and concede to it, the sooner your train will get to where it’s going.
When I go slowly, it’s to do an orientation, cover the big picture, etc. In training we sometimes call this the “advanced organizer.” Use it! Get everyone’s mental model closer to yours, or let them push back and then get yours closer to theirs. Once done you can rocket and roll—up to the next transition point that is, which is a new process or a new day. Then it’s slow down, take your time, and when the time is right, rocket and roll!
To kick off a meeting, I like to cover the overall project purpose and objectives first—the terminal objective, if you will. I like to cover the specific meeting purpose and objectives next, and ensure that everyone sees the link between the two. Start looking into the participants’ eyes to look for clues and cues of understanding or confusion.
These are enablers for the terminal objective and should be seen as such. Then if there are other meetings and processes that all fit into the big picture of the project (which almost always depends on its scope, etc.), I cover them also, so everyone sees what we will be doing and how it fits with everything else.
If some other group and/or process is going to tackle other project steps and enablers, this group needs to understand the intent of the project’s plan: who’s on first, on second, and which group is up to bat, etc.
I like everyone to know not only what’s in our box but what’s outside our box. Clarify what is as well as what isn’t, in order for everyone to build up their own mental model.
This takes time. Go slow to go fast. You’ll be surprised at how fast you can actually go if you don’t have to keep slowing down to revisit topics and issues already covered. But don’t go too fast and risk not getting everyone on board.
You’ll also need to slow down when you transition from one part of your meeting to the next; for example, going from Performance Modeling to Knowledge/Skill Analysis. Again, explain how this next process fits, follows, whatever. Look for the clues and cues, in their eyes and in their body language. Most importantly, ask the participants. Verbal clues and cues are the most easily read. If you don’t ask, they might not tell.
At the start of a new day I do the same thing, go slow to go fast. I call these transitions “reviews and previews.” More on these later.