I call these “The 12 Rules and Guidelines of Proactive/Confrontational Facilitation for the PACT Processes for T&D.”
1. Go Slow to Go Fast.
2. Be Declarative.
3. Write Stuff and Post It.
4. Be Redundant by Design.
5. Use the Four Key Communications Behavior Types.
6. Review and Preview.
7. Write It Down and Then Discuss It.
8. Use Humor.
9. Control the Process and the Participants.
10. Be Legible on the Flip Chart.
11. Beware of Group-Think.
12. Assign Parking Lot Valets.
The 1st of these is covered in more detail in the following text.
Read them. Use them.
1. Go Slow to Go Fast
Yikes! Go slow to go fast? We’re almost always in a hurry and time is a wastin’!!! We can’t do that!!!!
Most time 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, to allow time at the beginning of a meeting to do what needs to be done up-front. For example, we typically do a poor/rushed 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. Haste maketh waste.
We seem to feel that because we (or someone else) said it once, and therefore the intent of the message was sufficiently conveyed/understood, 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. 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 “advance organizer.” Use it!
Get everyone’s mental model closer to yours, or let them push back and then get yours closer to theirs. Whatever is your goal – with whatever flexibility or rigor required for your situation.
Once done you can “rocket and roll”―up to the next transition point that is, which for me is a new process being introduced to the assembled, or the start and end of a 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. The specific meeting purpose and objectives 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. Start looking into the participants’ eyes to look for clues and cues of understanding or confusion. And get redundant as necessary.
If some other group or process is going to tackle other project steps and enablers, my 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” in terms of scope/target audiences, etc. – but also what’s outside our box. And who/what is borderline.
And to make sure we all agree – or at least have heard from the minority if we do not. Always a smart move in my view – to understand the minority opinion. Unless in your situation the majority opinions are always proven the correct ones in hindsight. In that case, good luck!
Clarify so that everyone can build their own mental model that are more “shared models” than not. Close enough may be good enough, as it is sometimes said.
And – “THEN” – when all of that has been “sufficiently covered – I like to have the participants introduce themselves – and respond at the end of their intro with any initial:
Questions/ Comments/ Concerns?
Let’s give the bravest of them a chance to identify the “elephants in the room” – so to speak. Their unspoken/ acknowledged “issues.” The skeletons in the closet. The sacred cows.
All of this front-end preparation in a group effort takes time – going slow to go fast. Takes time away from “getting things going and done!” to those who are impatient and want to make it happen in a blink.
But you’ll soon 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.
And then later, in subsequent efforts and in others’ meetings – you very quickly appreciate the value of “go slow to go fast” IF done right. And as is true with most things in life, being right is entirely situational – as in: As always, it depends.
Read the group/audience. What “agenda items” might you need to “duly” touch on and capture very visibly – first second and third – to clear the decks in every one’s minds – so to speak – so that you can rewind the tape and start the meeting/effort as you should have done ideally, but for practicality/reality reasons you didn’t and you started by jumping ahead to name/tag the topics of interest – because if you didn’t the group would not tolerate your slow start. So you adjusted, knowing what that implied/meant about the unfinished business of kicking-off the meeting with that building of shared understanding/consensus needed to avoid wasting time/energy on symptoms versus root causes, etc.
You may have had to go fast initially to let off steam, then slow down to re-calibrate everyone about what we are trying to accomplish here and agree on how to do so – and then got to go fast in getting it done, as agreed. And that’s just at the start up of your group/team effort!!!
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 in the PACT Analysis Team Meeting for CAD, MCD and IAD efforts.
Again, explain how this next process fits.
Look for the clues and cues in participants’ eyes – “face polling” as I call it – and watch their body language.
Most importantly, ask participants whether they understand. If you don’t ask, they might not tell. When they might have been willing to IF ONLY ASKED.
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 those later. Some of these 12 rules/guidelines overlap a bit.
In the future we’ll cover the other 11 rules/guidelines one-by-one!
– Sourced and edited/embellished from Appendices C of: “lean-ISD” – a book by Guy W. Wallace – available as a free 404 page PDF at www.eppic.biz
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