Guy W. Wallace’s PACT Facilitation Guidelines: # 8 – Use Humor


Guy W. Wallace’s PACT Facilitation Guidelines: # 8- Use Humor.

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

The 12 “hints at how to do PACT Facilitation” 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 8th of these is covered in more detail in the following text.

Read them. Adapt them. Use them. Tweak as needed.

8. Use Humor
Or – use of humor.

Humor, done right, sets the stage.

The message sent by your use of humor – and which can also be said instead out loud in a declarative fashion – is that while our goal is serious, let’s not take ourselves too seriously.

Let’s loosen up a bit. You, me, everyone in the process.

Unless of course it is a “life or death” situation.

As always – it depends.

Otherwise – loosen up. De-Stress everyone. Do everyone a favor.

As facilitator – it’s your job. Do it.

**** ****

You As The Bozo
Self-deprecating humor is best. It offends no one, because you (the facilitator) are the butt of most of it. Or all of it.

Use of yourself as the “bozo on the bus” is effective because you can make points and laugh at yourself. And if you later inadvertently make someone else the butt of your jokes or points, or they make a fool out of themselves, you and they can recover by you turning it back on yourself.

For example, after an obvious mistake by someone on the team being facilitated:

“Oh, that was smart! . . . I guess you’re joining me in the dumb-dumb club.

Hey, but I’m still president.”

When you are facilitating a complex set of process steps – such as in the CAD or MCD “processes” mistakes are inevitable. By you and anyone else!

How will you handle the situation?

Will you deflect attention from the mistake making person to something else to get them off the hook?

When providing examples and non-examples, use yourself as the non-example and others in the room as the example. “Pete is competent and will get the training, and if he does well, he’ll get the raise. Guy is still screwing up, and if the training doesn’t take hold or he doesn’t use what he learns, he’s outta here!”

Don’t use off-color humor, sexist, racist, age-ist, or any non-PC (politically correct) humor. Make sure the butt of your jokes is most often you. Or always you.

Who could complain?

After establishing myself as the biggest bozo on the bus, I might include others in my other jokes/wisecracks―but only if I am darn sure that they’ll be okay with it, for example because they have started picking on me (in fun of course), or they have made fun of themselves in some way.

Again, this is tricky and you’ve got to be sure of what you’re doing.

Naturally – Or Not!?!

Does It Come Naturally to YOU?
If humor doesn’t come naturally to you, experiment/ practice/ try this first at your next family outing before you attempt to foist any humor on a group or team you are asked to facilitate.

Or somewhere someway. Just – don’t leave home without it – practicing until safe I mean.

See what kind of reaction you get from people who know you and love you much better – than this possible group of strangers who won’t be quite sure where you’re coming from. And as forgiving as might be needed should you “screw up humor” (a technical phrase).

So before you can inadvertently offend anyone – apologize in-advance, and have practiced. practiced, practiced beforehand!

In the future we’ll cover the remaining 4 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

The title was suggested and the cover of “lean-ISD” was designed by the late Geary A. Rummler who wrote:

“If you want to ground your fantasy of a ‘corporate university’ with the reality of a sound ‘engineering’ approach to instructional systems that will provide results, you should learn about the PACT Processes.

If you are a leader of, or a serious participant in, the design and implementation of a large-scale corporate curriculum, then this book is for you. This system could be the difference between achieving bottom-line results with your training or being just another ‘little red school house.’”

Geary A. Rummler, Ph.D.
Performance Design Lab

Others who wrote reviews in 1999…

“This highly structured and detailed process for instructional design provides excellent guidelines for advanced students and practitioners. The focus is on improving training and development processes and products in business and industry.”

James D. Russell
Professor of Instructional Design, Purdue University

**** ****

“Guy Wallace is giving away the magic. This book provides a model and methodology to help a training function link its long-term outputs to the business needs of the organization. The PACT Processes help introduce the voice of the customer into any training organization whose mission is to improve performance.”

John M. Swinney
Manager of Curriculum Design and Development, Bandag, Inc.

**** ****

“This book is not an easy read, it is something much better. It is a book written for people who share Guy Wallace’s passion for development training that adds value, for people who are so committed to competence for themselves and for the people they serve that they are willing to do what it takes to develop training that adds value. The best way to use the book is as a guide in doing projects . . . it describes the why and the what and offers many wise and useful suggestions about how.”

Dale M. Brethower, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology, Western Michigan University

**** ****

lean-ISD takes all of the theory, books, courses and pseudo job-aids that are currently on the market about Instructional Systems Design and blows them out of the water.

Previous “systems” approach books showed a lot of big boxes and diagrams which were to supposedly help the reader become proficient in the design process. Here is a book that actually includes all of the information that fell through the cracks of other ISD training materials and shows you the way to actually get from one step to another. Guy adds all of the caveats and tips he has learned in over twenty years of ISD practice and sprinkles them as job aids and stories throughout the book.

However, the most critical part of the book for me was that Guy included the project and people management elements of ISD in the book. Too often ISD models and materials forget that we are working with real people in getting the work done.

This book helps explain and illustrate best practices in ensuring success in ISD projects.

Miki Lane
Senior Partner
MVM The Communications Group

**** ****

“I’ve found lean-ISD to be a very useful reference tool and resource. After having been involved with Guy Wallace on a large-scale application of the methodology at my last firm, I’ve taken on several recent projects in my new company using many of the methods, tools and templates of the PACT Processes for Training & Development. The book is designed so that I was quickly able to access the information I needed to provide my clients practical, timely and quality approaches to tackling their business issues.

I highly recommend this book as a guide for business professionals challenged by either training and development, learning, knowledge management, or human competence development projects.”

Randy Kohout
Director, Knowledge Management
Fireman’s Fund

**** **** **** **** ****

Again, all quotes from 1999.

My book: lean-ISD covers the PACT Processes – land it leverages the expertise of your Master Performers – and upskills all to get closer to their levels of performance.

By modeling Performance and deriving the enabling knowledge/skills in a systematic and controlled manner.

Some might call the process bench-marking. Others might call it best practices. It’s similar to a group doing process mapping – but much more. More disciplined. Much more produced. Much greater impact potential.


More predictable – in terms of time and schedule. And – quality of data – besides that quantity.

And the analysis data should/ could include lessons learned and warnings about typical gaps and causes!!!

And other architectural/outline/segmentation of tasks and topics.

All to enable Process/ Workflow/ Performance at the individual, process, organization, enterprise and societal levels.

What is the relevance of anything else?

# # #

2 comments on “Guy W. Wallace’s PACT Facilitation Guidelines: # 8 – Use Humor

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

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

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