What Do You Do After Everyone Goes Home?

“No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.”

    – George Burns

Congratulations to the graduates from the October session of  The Facilitators Studio!

Courtesy of Penta Photography http://www.pentaphotography.com

Working With Participants After The Workshop

Because most people want to create their own destiny, you can help your participants become Extraordinary Facilitators by helping them live into great facilitation, on their terms.

The guided development of another facilitator’s skills allows them to excel independently and increases the facilitation capacity in an organization.

  • Assess Others’ Skill Levels:  The Extraordinary Facilitator ensures participants have the skill and influence to apply learning from development sessions.
  • Practices Systems Thinking: The Extraordinary  Facilitator considers the impact of behavior changes on other parts of the client’s and/or particpant’s organization.
  • Established Accountablility: The Extraordinary Facilitator leverages cohort groups within the participant population to ensure sustained application of learningand measurement of impact.

When the session is over, and you engage in follow-up work, ask these questions to set a framework:

  • How can you involve others in the assessment of their own strengths and weaknessess?
  • To whom should you communicate about how they affect behavior in your participants?
  • Where, in the client organization, can you publish or distribute the progress of your participants?

The extent to which you can influence an organizational culture is related to the extent to which people within that culture view you as a positive, trurtworthy and knowledgeable force of change.

Next time, we’ll explore the Organizational Acceptance Continuum.

The above is an excerpt from the book by Barry Shapiro, “Casting Call in the Theatre of Corporate America.”

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A Nap, A Stretch and You’re Ready! Showtime!

“I always feel I can play a role – just give me the time to do the preparation and I’ll be it.”

Courtesy of upi.com

– Mira Sorvino

Tips for Preparing for a Session

Like you, the night before the program, your participants are in a vast array of emotional states and are moving across spectrums of time and geographic locations. Some are traveling great distances across the country or even enduring travel dramas overseas. They may spend an entire day traveling-changing planes as apprehensively as you would feel about changing an infant’s diaper several times during a journey. Irritated by a prolonged Custom’s line, they stand agitated and confused about the location of a hotel shuttle bus or the conversion ratio to the American dollar or the Euro. Others are walking distance from the training room, and they will drag themselves from the warm cocoon of their hotel beds twenty minutes before the start of the class. Likewise, each of the participants has different expectations about the days to come. There are those who, regardless of their circumstances, approach new things with vigor, excitement and the open-mindedness of a good-natured child. Others bristle at “hello.” Therefore, the greater the extent to which you can create an environment that makes each demeanor more comfortable, the more likely each of your participants will engage comfortably at their own pace.


Courtesy pxleyes.com

Catnap or not, fatigue is a challenging byproduct of continuous travel. Therefore, it must be managed like any other obstacle. While traveling, short naps aided by a sleep blindfold and earplugs can provide welcomed bursts of energy, akin to spare battery packs for your electronics. Periodic stretching in the aisles and walks up and down the airplane will aid circulation and prevent those nasty little bedsores. In the same way, drinking plenty of water will give you an excuse to get out of your seat, much like keeping a travel size toothbrush and tube of toothpaste nearby will surely keep you and your fellow passengers refreshed. After all, after a nap, moose breath has a tendency to garner quite a bit of negative attention from the people next to you, who may have been eyeing you nervously as you slept.

Air Travel 

More than likely you will also be traveling by air to get to your work destinations. Despite some irritations, airplanes can be effective study rooms, if managed well. Noise canceling headphones can help to minimize the distractions of shrill cries from agitated babies or from the incessant chatter of excited new acquaintances. Inserting small earplugs in addition to the headphones will create a hermetically sealed environment while still allowing glorious music in. Bring an additional charged computer battery and spare portable music device batteries for longer domestic flights or international journeys that don’t provide access to electrical outlets. This will ensure an uninterrupted tunnel of focus.

Courtesy of blog.afundedlife.com

Checking your bags will add thirty minutes to your travels, so pack light and board properly. Boarding a plane properly carries with it etiquette akin to meeting the Queen. Mired in restrictive policies, Flight Attendants, frustrated from a long day’s travels, are more than happy to sublimate their irritation through you and your belongings. Our goal is to remain polite and neutral. Unlike the protective measure against an approaching bear in which we are taught to act big, act small when approaching a rabid Flight Attendant. Carry your bags on the opposite side from the attendant, and be sure to smile and maintain eye contact with them as you pass to your seat. This will keep their focus on you and not your bags. Such intentional posturing is meant to avoid separating you from your luggage.

When packing your bags remember that a few extra pair of clean socks and t-shirts will add immediate vitality to an upcoming 13 hour day. To free up room for such necessary items, remove the pages from the bulky participant manual and bind the pages, coverless, with three separate rings. Most office supply stores sell a variety of rings for just such occasions.

Keep the items you will need like a pen, yellow highlighter, manual, music, and headphones in your carry-on bag under your seat. And, don’t forget to keep your cell phone handy so that you can use the plane’s taxiing time to make that important call ten minutes before exiting the aircraft.

Courtesy of jonathanandmelanie.blogspot.com

Travel Tips

  • Pack and stow your luggage efficiently in order to save time de-boarding.
  • Pamper yourself while traveling (i.e. MP3 player, noise reduction headphones) to reduce stress and fatigue.
  • Use your time on the plane to prepare for your upcoming session.
  • Attend to your physical health, through napping and stretching, in order toremain rested so you can facilitate at your peak performance.
  • Anticipate ways to make your participants feel comfortable after their journey in order to set a comfortable tone on day one.

The above is an excerpt from the book by Barry Shapiro, “Casting Call in the Theatre of Corporate America.”


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Focus On Success from Becky Rentzel at McDonald’s

“I have learned how to give the power of the learning to the learners.” 

     – Becky Rentzel, McDonald’s World Wide Training, Learning & Development and Graduate of The Facilitators Studio

What Happens After The Facilitators Studio?

We sat down to chat with one of the graduates from The Facilitators Studio to see what happened after the workshop.   Becky Rentzel leads the team whose primary role is to deliver McDonald’s Mid-management curriculum to participants from all areas of the world. She also is leading the deployment of the newly revised Mid Management leadership curriculum and is working closely with training leads from all areas of the world with the implementation of the new curriculum into their markets.  She lives in Plainfield, Illinois with her husband and two young children.

So… Did anything change?

Did she experience results?

FS: What business challenges were you and your team facing before you attended The Facilitators Studio?

BR: As a team dedicated to delivering leadership training, we are always trying to up skill our classroom facilitators, which in itself is a challenge. As a system, our biggest opportunity that consistently shows up on employee commitment surveys is that employees do not feel that they freely and openly express their thoughts and opinions. For me personally, I wanted to be more effective at facilitating tough meetings to get people to open up, providing for more innovation and problem solving- and encouraging that freedom of expression.

FS:  How did The Facilitators Studio address your specific business challenges?

BR: Because the workshop included such a diversity of colleagues, I was able to best practice ideas to take back to my team. Additionally, I was able to give and receive feedback to my studio cohorts. The feedback I received was so impactful to me. It was so specific and allowed me to make a plan to improve my personal effectiveness- especially in those tough meetings. Because of my new and improved skills, I am able to be more influential with leadership.

FS: What changes did you implement in your business or on your team as a result of The Facilitators Studio?

BR:  With my immediate team, I covered a part of the workshop with them that will help them to identify and defuse derailing behaviors of participants. I used some of the tools and icons to help educate my team and we even have planned to use the role-play activities and our next team meeting.  This will impact literally thousands of learners in our

Becky Rentzel, McDonald’s Worldwide Training

instructor-led training by the use of the new facilitator techniques. For my meeting facilitation, I have had the opportunity on several occasions to bring out better thinking by being more aware of the meeting participators and their engagement and/or derailing behaviors. Last week I facilitated a “team norm” session with the team to determine how we can be more further-faster in 2011. One of our problems is avoidance of conflict. Our new norm is to bring the stuffed elephant into the room to surface conflict. People are now asking to have the elephant passed to them so they can “warn” the team of impending conflict.

FC:  How do your improved facilitation skills help the performance of your business? or help to save time/money?

BR:  I have learned how to give the power of the learning to the learners. The easiest way to seed this concept is by reinforcing that we are “the guide by the side, not the sage on the stage.” Last month I was asked to facilitate a tough decision-making meeting with some of our top executives. Normally they would have paid an external facilitator thousands of dollars to facilitate this session. Just yesterday at a project team meeting, I heard my colleague (the professional “lemon-face”) mumble something under his breath. Dan, the brilliant, yet underappreciated IT guy mumbles again. I stopped the meeting and asked him to elaborate. His insight was so valuable to a new technology that we are implementing that we could had made huge mistakes in a GLOBAL solution that impacts over 30k restaurants around the world. These kinds of mistakes cost unbelievable amounts of time and money. That’s the importance of effective facilitation. It is somewhat immeasurable in dollars, yet priceless at the same time.

FC:  Why would you recommend The Facilitators Studio to other business leaders?

BR:  Certainly I would recommend this course to business leaders for all the reasons I mentioned. Several reasons lie behind my recommendation: networking opportunities; self-awareness exercises; up skilling your facilitation skills; achieving break-through thinking at business meetings, and most importantly of all- improving business results with the talent on your teams.

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Facilitation Aikido

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t
turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work
around it.”

-Michael Jordan

Courtesy of harlemcondolife.com

Have you ever wondered why some speakers, after receiving the reigns of an excited learning room, slowly drain the life out of its inhabitants, while others, who receive a dead fish, breathe life into it and teach it to Samba?

Courtesy of http://bit.ly/oq253L

The energy, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind, the energy is blowin’ in the wind. We can learn to harness energy like a giant sail on a boat in the ocean, but we must take care not to rip the sail.

Generating energy is a powerful force in your learning room, however energy brings with it  some very specific challenges. These challenges, if navigated poorly, can cause energy problems. Energy problems become exaggerated when your thoughts, values  and actions are misaligned or when your energy level does not track smoothly with your participant’s energy level.

In order to understand how to properly harness the energy in the room, let’s start with the night before your program. The image of the session that we forecast in our minds while
lying in bed the night before a program may be quite different from the reality of the group dynamics the next day. Surprises waiting for us, if known, might keep us from stepping inside the classroom. I’ve heard new facilitators joke that teaching would be easy if it weren’t for the participants. Participants can be difficult, provocative, and irritating. They may not have your best interest, the company’s best interest or even their own best interest in mind. And, they can create obstacles that are challenging, but not impossible, to navigate. Our  positive mind-set and competent skill-set about managing energy is critical as we step into the learning room.

Energy challenges often mask themselves, or get marginalized, as “people problems.” But
the problem is not ultimately with a single person. The problem often involves specific group dynamics. Under the right environments, all people flourish, even criminals, the physically disabled or the mentally ill.  Effective group dynamics require creating the right environment for each individual participant to flourish.  The suggested methods that we teach in The Facilitators Studio make up what we call “Facilitation Aikido.”

Courtesy of http://bit.ly/qGDhCc

Aikido, as you may know, is the Asian martial art of using another’s energy against or with him or her to prevent harm or to generate a more productive outcome. Aikido is
often translated as “the Way of unified spirit.” It was developed in the 1920’s by Morihei Ueshiba. One of Aikido’s guiding principles is that self defense should be possible without hurting your attacker. Aikido techniques redirect the
force of the attacker rather than opposing it.  Facilitation Aikido is the
application of this philosophy to the group dynamics in your learning room.

If you’d like to learn more about the five specific participant obstables and how to use Facilitation Aikido, please visit our website and register for our upcoming workshop in October.  You can receive certification in Facilitation
Aikido and take those tools back to your workplace.

The above is an excerpt from the book by Barry
Shapiro, “Casting Call in the Theatre
of Corporate America.”


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How’s Your Learning Competence?

“No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where
you’ve come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself.”     
– Madonna 

Image courtesy of madonnagoogle.blogspot.com

Dimensions of
Facilitator Certification

Have you ever noticed that some young people look and sound old, while some old people look and sound young? DNA and genes are only one part of this equation. The young people that look and sound old are often sedentary and cynical, while older people may be perpetually active and optimistic. The older ones are still growing. They are still inspired by the challenges and questions of life. Most importantly, they do not subscribe to the premise that aging must lead to inevitable and debilitating declines in cognitive and
physical abilities over the course of their lifetime. So they, in fact, live into their self-fulfilling prophesies about the possibility of health and growth throughout their lives by bicycling, reading and socializing their way out of atrophy.

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Facilitators sound old and atrophied when they quote  management theory from the 1960’s or make references to outdated articles from the 1980’s. Facilitators sound young, alive and informed when they quote cutting edge management research that is grounded in the work of the gurus of the past. Facilitators sound old when they imply fixed gender, ethnicity, or race characteristics. Facilitators sound informed and progressive when they provide examples of how individuals break molds of the past to excel in the present and into the future. So, do your homework when challenging your own or others’ assumptions.

The Facilitators Studio certification system identifies ones knowledge of content, called “Content Competence,” as well as ones ability to grow, called “Learning Competence,” as determinants for readiness to teach any given course.  Think of Content Competence as a measure of actual performance and Learning Competence as a measure of potential
performance.  There is also an important third measure called “Facilitation
Competence.”  This measures the degree to which one effectively interacts with a
group while delivering accurate information about course content.

The Content Competence measure is traditional and straightforward. For example, a
facilitator who answers at least 85% of the questions about the course material
correctly on a written or oral examination is approved in this one area. But the
Facilitating Competence and Learning Competence measures are much more difficult
to assess. They are both measures of one’s ability to change and grow.

Learning Competence implies, simply, that one is effective at learning. Being an effective learner, however, requires that one learn from both inside and outside of one’s industry. An unfortunate by-product of corporate work-a-holism is myopia. People focus so much internally in their own organization that they never look up or around. This corporate tendency has been called “breathing your own exhaust.”

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So, rather than becoming myopic and deep, facilitators should seek to become open and broad. The great facilitator looks outside his field of study to improve his own.   For example, the value placed by an Active Facilitator on going out to hear a comedian in order to learn about comic timing is at least as important as reading books on management theory. Observing a charismatic political speech to learn about mobilizing groups of disheartened people is as important as listening to a senior manager talk about the importance of an upcoming initiative. And listening to a program on National Public Radio or on Sixty Minutes is as good a place as any to learn about the art of storytelling.

Next time, we’ll explore what it means to practice Facilitation Aikido.

The above is an excerpt from the book by Barry
Shapiro, “Casting Call in the Theatre
of Corporate America.”

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What About Breaking Type?

“If you see yourself as always being in a state of becoming, you’ll kind of be alright.”

– Bob Dylan, fourty-three years after his 1961 emergence onto the scene.

We often tell our participants one thing and do another. Take, for example, the very popular creation of development action plans at the end of a program to turn insight into action back at work. Ironically, even though many consultants proselytize about the necessity of having one, very few, if any, actually create a development plan for themselves. Personal development planning requires an ongoing and conscious reflection and examination of your thoughts. It also may require you to “Break Type.”

The Fonz
Image courtesy of http://tllg.net/mBF

By Breaking Type, we mean behaving in ways outside of what is expected by others based on established perceptions. The term is often associated with actors who are typecast into one character and, therefore, perceived one-dimensionally. An example of such a character is Henry Winkler as “the Fonz” (a tough biker with a soft heart) on the sitcom, “Happy Days.”

Many organizational training departments fall short of certifying their instructors based solely on the content the teach. For example, an organization might make the assertion that Karl, the new trainer, knows the material and is therefore “signed off” to teach the Conflict Management course content. However, the sign-off says nothing about his ability to tailor learning experiences, in the moment, based on emerging participant needs.

Alternatively, what The Faciliators Studio proposes, is a certification system that reinforces the effectiveness of fully functioning facilitators who effectively Break Type. The certification system identifies ones knowledge of content, called “Content Competence,” as well as ones ability to grow, called “Learning Competence,” as determinants for readiness to teach any given course. Think of Content Competence as a measure of actual performance and Learning Competence as a measure of potential performance. There is also an important third measure called “Facilitation Competence.” This measures the degree to which one effectively interacts with a group while delivering accurate information about course content.

Next time, we’ll explore these competencies in more detail and how they build the Dimensions of Facilitator Certification.

The above is an expert from the book by Barry Shapiro,

“Casting Call in the Theatre of Corporate America.”

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How Did We Get Here?

In this modern age, we want the answers. And we want them NOW! After all, with answers comes acknowledgement, power and success. This seems self-evident in the business world. It’s also often true in the world of personal and spiritual growth, where many of us are seeking “The Answer” to our purpose and existence. Perhaps we were conditioned with this desire to have the answers through our years of traditional schooling. It was the role of the teacher to have the questions, and our role was to seek the answer. We were supposed to know the answer, punished if we didn’t, rewarded if we did.

When I watch adults in community meetings, business meetings, political committees, and TV debates, the goal, sometimes explicit, sometimes implicit, is to have the right answer. He or she who expresses an answer with the most clarity and power is revered. It doesn’t matter so much what the question is. If the answer satisfies the emotional need of the masses, it is given our blessing, our attention, and our energy.

When we have an answer that satisfies us, the case if often closed. But what if the answer doesn’t address the source of the issue that inspired it? What then? I know of a nation not too far away that has been entertaining impassioned answers for decades, most of them pretty much the same, while a nearly intractable debt hole $60 trillion deep has gone virtually unnoticed. Perhaps a little more focus on the question is in order. Continue reading

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Facilitation Aikido: Part II

Case Study #2: Lemon FaceThe second of the participant obstacles you’ll likely encounter, for which Facilitation Aikido can be helpful, is the other side of a Mr. or Ms. Puckers. Whereas Puckers kisses up, this next participant type is scowling…as if recoiling from sucking on a lemon. Naturally, we call this “Lemon Face.” Everything you say is offensive to Lemon Face. Everything the other participants offer is objectionable. Lemon Faces can barely believe their eyes and ears and they will show you their disdain through their ever-present grimace.

Internally, Lemon Face reactions mirror one of three possibilities:

1. A simple lack of understanding of the course material from a lack of clarity on the part of the presenter.
2. Possible style disconnect with which the content is being delivered. Doug is serious-minded, while Amy is lighthearted.
3. A significant difference in values between their internal belief system and any assumptions the presenter makes when delivering the material.

Warning! Some people have permanent, unconscious negative expressions on their face that may look like and be interpreted as disapproval. Often it is not a Lemon Face grimace at all, but simply a look of concentration that is misinterpreted.

In any case, you can determine the Lemon Face trigger by getting a read during a brief one-on-one conversation during a breakout session or even during the main session. Such interventions are very purposeful and underscore the importance of separating the participant from the herd. You are more likely to get honesty and higher personal accountability from a participant once back in the larger group. Continue reading

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Facilitation Aikido: Part I

This week’s article, Facilitation Aikido: Part I, is extracted from Barry Shapiro’s book, Casting Call in the Theatre of Corporate America…the role of the extraordinary facilitator. This book serves as a practical guide to assess, measure and develop facilitators to ensure that their extraordinary impact in the classroom translates to extraordinary outcomes at work, the ultimate stage of modern life.

Barry’s Facilitation Aikido model offers simple laser strategies for intervening on the five most challenging behaviors we typically encounter in groups. He takes a fresh perspective that views energy dynamics and environments as the source of these behaviors. In the coming weeks, we’ll visit all five one of them at a time.

This week, we’ll be working with the flattering Mr. and Ms. Puckers. This is the participant who hides from deeper engagement under a veneer of flattery.

There are five common energy challenges that face today’s Active Facilitator. Energy challenges often mask themselves, or get marginalized, as “people problems.” But the problem is not ultimately with a single person. The problem often involves specific group dynamics.

Under the right environments, all people flourish—even criminals, the physically disabled or the mentally ill. Since effective group dynamics require creating the right environment for each individual participant to flourish, I will present challenges in terms of participant obstacles. Along side each obstacle is a suggested method, described by a mnemonic, to redirect participant energy into more productive directions. These suggested methods make up what I call “Facilitation Aikido.”

Aikido, as you may know, is the Asian martial art of using another’s energy against or with him or her to prevent harm or to generate a more productive outcome. Facilitation Aikido is the application of this philosophy to the group dynamics in your learning room.

Facilitation Aikido interventions will be illustrated through a series of five participant archetypes: Mr. Puckers, Lemon Face, Nostradamus, The Bopsie Twins and The Stealth Bomber. Each week we will introduce an example of each of these including tips to productively intervene on the behavior.

Case Study #1: Mr. Puckers

The first of the participant obstacles that gets in the way of enthusiastic engagement is called “Mr. Puckers,” though it’s not really gender-based. This persona can easily be demonstrated by a “Ms. Puckers” as well. These are participants who kiss up. Everything you say is a pearl of wisdom. They compliment you during breaks or even during the presentation in front of others. Sounds like a great participant…right? Not really. They are often superficially engaged. That is, they put out disingenuous energy. It may be more important for them to show others that they are finding value in the class than it is for them to actually learn or interact in a personally significant way. Consider the following example.

SONG LI: (during our first morning break, she sidled over to Amy who was buttering her bagel)

Amy, I very impressed with your transition between Instructional Designer and Facilitator. It appears you have a natural talent for engaging the participants.

AMY: (smiling and imbued with a shot of desperately needed confidence) Thank you, Song Li.

NARRATOR: At lunch, Song made her way to Amy’s table and complimented her again.

SONG LI: I love the fabric of your shirt. It looks very expensive.

NARRATOR: Amy smiled and volleyed a compliment about Song’s red scarf back. And, at the end of day one, Song rushed back over to Amy.

SONG LI: Thank you so much for all of references during day. Very helping, impressive.

Meet Song Li, whose lips have formed into a perpetual pucker and whose forehead is creased thinking about the specific cause and effect of seemingly insignificant events in the session. Song Li has become Ms. Puckers.

NARRATOR: I’m not suggesting that you squelch Mr. or Ms. Pucker’s positive attitude, I am merely proposing that you can help their actions and energy go deeper and become more meaningful in the session. So, how do we do this?

Here it can be helpful to PROVOKE them with questions or paradoxes.

1. “What, specifically, Song Li, are you finding helpful about the program?”
2. “How, specifically, Song Li, will you apply what you are learning back on the job?”
3. “Why did you choose to make your last comment?

Or use a paradox to PROVOKE PUCKERS. A paradox involves two opposite thoughts or statements that are not normally put in practice at once and, therefore generate cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance, which is experienced as internal tension, occurs when you stand for one thing but do something entirely different.

I currently work with a very conservative organization that manufactures heavy farm equipment and highly values relentless diplomacy and conflict avoidance. During a recent training, not one person challenged the senior leaders, nor did any one question anything that I taught. Imagine an entire room full of Mr. and Ms. Puckers smacking their lips. The sound was deafening. So, I started challenging them by providing paradoxical statements about their behavior and then used myself as a safe model for them to engage.

One strongly reinforced goal of this group was to become “more competitive through the development of more innovative ways of going to market.” Thus, I provoked, “So, on one hand I hear you spouting this goal of increasing innovation, yet on the other hand, I have never once heard you challenge any internal messages from senior management and I have yet to see you challenge even one external idea I’ve taught. You can’t simultaneously have both innovation and complacency. Help me to understand this apparent discrepancy.”

These two mutually exclusive ideas, innovation and complacency, generate cognitive dissonance. Most people find it difficult to keep two diametrically opposed thoughts in our head at the same time. It creates tension, sometimes even including physical tension in the form of headaches, neck strain and anxiety. Ironically, it is this internal tension that can create the energy necessary for us to resolve this thought inconsistency and ultimately help us feel better.

The conscious, though sometimes unconscious, internal dialogue goes something like this. “Hmmm…I believe in innovation, but I am acting complacent. I have three choices. First, I can make excuses for why I am taking a break from innovative thinking and action, second, I can reject the importance of innovation altogether and continue my complacent behavior or, third, I can bring my actions in line with my thoughts and beliefs.” Our role as an Active Facilitator is to help participants examine these three choices and light a path toward action which is aligned with their belief systems. This will decrease cognitive dissonance at the individual level and will foster harmony and alignment at the group level.

This is what we did with the farm equipment client. We built in short discussion periods during the training session in which participants examined the alignment between their values, thoughts, and actions. I created workbook pages in their participant manual which provided the structure for two-person, ten-minute conversations. This way, participants could apply what they’ve learned about alignment by role playing customer conversations. These exercises tested the participant’s ability to maintain alignment between what they thought internally and what they said to their customer externally. As a result of this intervention, managers have begun to generate more innovative ideas about how they can outperform their closest competitor.

About the Author: Barry Shapiro is an extraordinary facilitator, executive coach, consultant, and author of Casting Call in the Theater of Corporate America. He helps individuals and organizations unleash breakthrough creativity to inspire themselves and their people to live more authentically and to perform more effectively. Barry’s vision is to demystify the concept and practice of leadership and make it accessible to managers around the globe so they can improve the world in which we live and work. Learn more about Barry at http://www.BarryShapiroNow.com.

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Inviting Consensus: How to Maximize Collaboration and Reach Consensus in Under an Hour

This week, leadership development expert Dan McCarthy has consented to allowing me to republish his recent post on consensus decision-making entitled, How to Maximize Collaboration and Reach Consensus in Under an Hour. Dan is the author of the award winning leadership development blog Great Leadership whose posts are based on his 20 years of experience as a practitioner in the field of leadership development. I hope you enjoy it and look forward to your feedback.

In my last post, I described 5 decision making options leaders can choose, depending on the amount of time allowed and input and buy-in needed.

This post describes a process a leader can use to help a group reach an efficient consensus decision.

First of all, it’s important to define what’s meant by “consensus”.

Here’s a definition that’s works for me:

Consensus is a decision that every member of the group has had input to,
understands, and is willing to support.

Note that consensus does not mean that everyone agrees with the decision 100%. It mean’s they’ve had their say – and have been listened to – and at the end of the day, are committed to supporting the decision. The final decision is owned by the group.

The leader also needs to decide on a “fallback” method in case the group cannot reach true consensus. Otherwise, in theory if just one person is not willing to support the decision, the meeting can go on forever.

The two most common fallback options are:

1. The group votes, majority rules.
2. The leader decides.

The threat of a fallback is a deterrent – it rarely has to be used, however, having it will motivate a group to give and take in order to reach a consensus.

What follows is a general process to use when making consensus decisions. It’s a way to ensure everyone has a say, generates energy, and can quickly move a group to a decision they can all buy in to and support.
Continue reading

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