Guy W. Wallace’s PACT Facilitation Guidelines: # 2- Be Declarative

Second in a series.

Preface:

I call these “The 12 Rules and Guidelines of Proactive/Confrontational Facilitation for the PACT Processes for T&D.”

The 12 are:
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 2nd of these is covered in more detail in the following text.

Read them. Adapt them! Use them.

2. Be Declarative
The timid shall never inherit the master performer facilitator’s crown.

It is necessary often to be strong. Very strong sometimes.

If your job is to facilitate a process to a certain set of outcomes, then declare yourself to the group. Tell them (assuming you are in charge of the meeting and the process and are responsible for assisting in getting the group outputs out) what’s what and who’s who.

Describe the process and the products of your process. Declare your intentions! Tell the group what they will do, how you plan to get them there, which hoops you’ll collectively be jumping through, which ones are on fire, etc. Be declarative!

Unless of course that is not the process to be used in the effort. Then…never mind!

However, if your role as a facilitator who is to be more of a passive observer most of the time who is to rarely become less passive in pointing out to the group and/or to individuals their behaviors that are inhibiting process. Then that is different.

The PACT Facilitator
But in the PACT Processes the role of the facilitator is to own the process and for the assembled to own the content – produced by the proscribed processes.

Then, as you the facilitator start – and throughout your process – ask for feedback, because there may indeed be a better way, or what you want may already exist, etc. Be open to using/reusing data, models, etc. Don’t redesign the wheel.

Look at what is available and what it needs in addition to meet the needs of the PACT Processes. PACT is all about Re-Use.

Check In and Out with Time Ins and Time Outs
Do plenty of process checks. Ask, “So far, so good? Does this make any sense to you – because even though it looks good to me, what do I know? I’m just the facilitator here.”

Be declarative about wanting and demanding their feedback. After all, that is why they are on the payroll this day/these days: to participate fully in the process.

Be declarative about them “owning the content” and the only way to get that is to say something declaratively and then check in with everyone about “that” – or “put something down” in writing/on the flip chart/live meeting screen for everyone to respond to.

I tell ’em what I want, how I intend for us to go about doing it, and then I ask for their “questions/comments/concerns” in return. Heck, I beg for their feedback! I ask them to “shoot a warning shot across my bow” (a residual phrase from my days in the Navy back in the early-mid 1970s) – or go straight for the hull.

I plead that they don’t let me inadvertently drive us collectively down a blind alley on a dead-end street! I may have a plan and firmly declare my intentions, but I’m still open to the warnings of others.

Their “shots across my bow” are “very OK” I tell them – several times in several ways. Redundancy by design.

Hey, I’ve been burned before, and I have learned from it. Or tried to anyway.

I’ve learned to get group input and feedback along the way.

This concept is not new. It’s nothing more than lessons gleaned from project postmortems―where many project managers too-late realized that the people in their projects saw the bad news on the horizon long before it arrived to screw up their projects. If only the project managers had asked earlier or had known whom to ask!

The people in the projects were deliberately trying to sabatoge the effort – they might have pointed out something in the past and got plenty of negative consequences for it – so they might have learned – appropriate for them in a self preservation mode – but not for the enterprise in a self preservation mode.

Your project participants may see the problematic issues long before you see them. They may know that the light up ahead is not the end of the tunnel, but a freight train coming! And coming fast!!!

Be declarative as a facilitator – and see what happens. If not much happens, don’t assume that you “are cool and okay.”

Double- and triple-check with the group. And be declarative about it! Be clear!

And look for those nonverbal clues and cues that something is amiss!

Do a Face Poll! A Body Language Poll! A Verbal Language Poll!

WARNING! Sometimes you may come on so strong in your “facilitator declarative mode” that members of the group may feel a bit intimidated and unwilling to suggest things or challenge you. You must ensure that the group always feels as if they truly own the content and that you only own the process. So you should probably be even more over the top about “their ownership of the content” and that you simply (humbly) own the process that will indeed work in getting their content out in a manner that is most useful for the downstream process to follow THIS EFFORT.

This declarative stuff is a double-edged sword―it cuts both ways. Be careful!

A skilled facilitator carefully maneuvers a group through a process using both strong and gentle pushes and pulls, all the while remaining focused on the desired outcomes. You’ve really gotta understand where you are trying to get to and be as flexible as feasible and as rigid as required.

It’s a balancing process – where you don’t know the value of the weights for the items – you are staring with a blank page so to speak – and the group in the room has the data in their heads – but don’t know how to contribute. But could probably each suggest a way to get the job done as they see (partially of course – unless they do understand YOUR downstream process needs from THIS upstream effort).


In the future we’ll cover the remaining 10 rules/guidelines one-by-one!

Cheers!

– Sourced and edited/embellished from Appendices C of: “lean-ISD” – a book by Guy W. Wallace – available as a free 404 page PDF at http://www.eppic.biz/

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3 comments on “Guy W. Wallace’s PACT Facilitation Guidelines: # 2- Be Declarative

  1. Pingback: L&D: My Facilitation Guidelines From the 1990s Revisited | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

  2. Pingback: Guy W. Wallace’s PACT Facilitation Guidelines: Series Wrap Up & Close | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

  3. Pingback: Facilitation in the Practice of Project Planning & Management « EPPIC – Pursuing Performance

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