T&D: The Facilitated Group Process

Kinda Like a Quality Circle

I had already run a group process for design – of a video script – back in 1979 – where after 7 iterations that seemed as if it would go on forever – if I didn’t find a way to break that chain – I decided to form a group. That story is – here.

But when I got to Motorola in 1981 I began to be exposed to a lot from the TQM – Total Quality Management movement – and the concept of Quality Circles.


So I stole, er, adapted that concept more formerly for my ISD practices, and tried to get my clients at Motorola, in the Manufacturing, Materials and Purchasing worlds, to let me conduct Analysis and Design – and Development – BY COMMITTEE – as it became derisively known. Until it worked.

It was after a failed PILOT TEST for my 30 Manufacturing Operations Managers (MOMs or Mothers) when I took the blame so that I might advance a quick fix – assemblage of a team to process the analysis efforts and then the design efforts.

They weren’t ready for that – and the room erupted. My boss – I was skip level reporting to him at the time – was sitting in the front row – at one of Motorola’s facilities in Canada – when I proposed something else.


Instead of me working for all 30 of you – I offered to the room – why don’t you just pick the meanest son-of-a-bitch amongst you – and I’ll work for him.


My boss, and the Training leaders from the facility were aghast. But by then I knew my client group.

They had told me early on in my assignment that they were the Manufacturing Operations Managers – or MOMs – or the Mother-You-Know-Whaters – and that they were the Belch/Fart/Scratch crowd – and that upper management was sometimes embarrassed by them – which they enjoyed immensely.

So when I asked to work with the meanest SOB amongst them – they not only liked me more – they immediately knew who I was talking about.

A MOM named Mike. Just down the road from HQ where I worked.


Soon, after I demonstrated my subservience to him, after stating my thoughts/beliefs about some decision – but then saluting and carrying out his wishes – and we proved him wrong – he began to listen to me.

I’ll never forget the next time I got together with my 30 MOM clients – in Ft. Worth – and told them how we were going to proceed on their project – “The ABCs of Supervision” – and the room erupted – as it was wont to do. As was predictable as the sun coming up each morning.

After 15 seconds of Continuous Outburst, Mike rose from his seat in the midst of them – and told them to all “shut up” – more colorfully than I’ve related here – and while pointing his finger at them collectively and individually as he pivoted back and forth across the room.


We – Mike and I – were going to pull together a small team and conduct an analysis and design effort on several of the modular Events – all intended to be Self Paced as pre-approved BY MIKE.

And that MIKE was going to name the people he wanted and the MOMs in the room had better see to it that they were in the chosen city/facility on the chosen dates – so here goes….


He named names and I wrote them on a flip chart – and then I took back the reins of the meeting to describe what we were going to produce in this meeting – using the named Master Performers – and not the Exemplars as I had been calling them in prior meetings.

Exemplars sounds way too academic to a group of crusty Belch/Fart/Scratchers – Mike taught me.

And drop that Noun Verb pattern when you write down what we tell you. We DON’T talk like that. Write down what we say how we say it.


Se we worked out the analysis and design of those first “Courses” on the Path – via a Group Process – which I facilitated under the watchful eye of Mike.


When we all met again – at the MOMs monthly meeting at another of their 30 locations that could actually host and hold 30 plus people – and I was about to read out the Design – just as I got to the podium – Mike stood up and with his finger alone – as he silently pivoted around in a semi-circle to cover the room – much as I would have imagined Al Capone might have done back in the day – as his audience thought silently to themselves: rat-ta-tat-tat.

The room got quiet. And I began.


The Facilitated Group Process is what I’ve used in 80+ percent of my consulting work engagements. I last did one this past April.

It’s not always feasible. But if it is – and the client is in a hurry – they’ll overcome the infeasibility issues and make it happen.

And the Project Steering Team – led by a strong chairperson (not always the client but mostly the client) – will pick the Right Master Performers and Other SMEs – for the learners/Performers to emulate and learn from. Instant credibility. Unless you screw it up. Or have the wrong people.


Facilitating in ISD Analysis and Design efforts is only as good as the Process, the Facilitators – and the Analysis or Design Team assembled.

I’ve always relied on the Chairperson and their Project Steering Team – to be like Mike and his 30 MOMs – and to ask the tough questions to keep us on the straight and narrow path – and to provide the right people.


In 1983 my business partners and I wrote two articles on this approach – and both were published in 1984. We had hoped that the article on Analysis would come out before the Design article – but that didn’t happen.

CAD – Training Mag – 1984 – 6 page PDF – the first publication about Curriculum Architecture Design via a Group Process – published in Training Magazine in September 1984. Original manuscript (30 pages) – How to Build a Training Structure That Won’t Keep Burning Down.

Models and Matrices- NSPI PIJ -1984 – 5 page PDF – the first publication of the performance and enabler analysis methods for ISD, from NSPI’s (ISPI’s) Performance & Instruction Journal, November 1984.


In 2006 I wrote a chapter for the HPT Handbook (3rd Edition) that extended this approach beyond Instruction and into Improvement.


Modeling Mastery Performance and Systematically Deriving the Enablers for Performance Improvement – by Guy W. Wallace, CPT – Chapter 11 of the Handbook of Human Performance Technology – 3rd Edition – 2006.  This methodology was first published in this 1984 article in ISPI’s (then NSPI’s) PIJ in November 1984.

My books mostly present the FGP approach to data collection – but the data can always be collected via more traditional approaches – at a much greater cycle time (and perhaps cost) to achieve the same end Quality.


But the initial gathering from a series of interviews, observations and document reviews – with the subsequent review/update cycles – and I do mean cycles – is both costly and extends the cycle time of the entire effort.

Once a client sees that – they’re more likely to want to go the FGP route. And if they’re like Mike – they can make it happen.


There are many other Blog Posts – as well as many Resources on this web site – that present the tools and techniques on the FGP. See the Resource Tab or use the Search function to start your research.

Or you can just engage me in helping you get your Processes and People ready to conduct your ISD and PI approaches using the FGP – Facilitated Group Process. I’ve been doing that since 1983.

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One comment on “T&D: The Facilitated Group Process

  1. Pingback: Just Keep Your Focus on Performance | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

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