A Glorious Disaster

My recent Glorious Disaster I walked into a leadership team workout for a Fortune 100 company this week and was absolutely shocked with the mindset of the people in the room. I knew that these were very smart people in a successful company with each of them responsible for departments with budgets into the tens of millions. Yet, the attitude was clear as I began, “Go ahead, lets’ see if you can teach me something.”  As we covered guidelines and expectations, arms were folded and a snide comment emerged, “So, are we going to fall into each others arms today?”[…]Read More…

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Workshop Leader Nightmare

Anyone who leads workshops or provides training will relate to this recent nightmare of mine.  I literally had a dream about it last night and just had to share it... Last November I had the opportunity to provide our Mindset of a Legend training to 25 HR executives from GE.  This is, quite frankly, the opportunity of a lifetime. If these HR folks liked it, we would be able to provide mindset training to thousands and even TENS of thousands of smart people. So, major pressure but I was definitely up to it. Until I walked in the room... GE[...]Read More...
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Front Loading

Front-loading an experience is making clear the purpose of an activity, session, workshop, retreat or meeting prior to actually doing it.   If participants clearly understand the purpose or lesson upfront, that topic will repeatedly show itself during the action component and potentially make it easier to identify during dialogue or discussion. Front-loading can include a wide range of tools.  Below are a few: how you set up the activity, content you provide immediately prior, essentially ‘priming’ them to spot that topic a Full Value Contract, the goals for the activity  Peer Introductions having the group read a book on topic, which[…]Read More…

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Raising the Collective Bar

  Take a moment and think of a large spider web.A spider web is very similar to organizations.  If you are looking directly at it, you will see many different strands connected together in a concentric circle – see left. Now, turn the top edge of the spider web toward you 90 degrees so the web is now horizontal to the floor. Now you are only seeing a single, solid line. This is how many efforts can be seen at work in your organization or group. Your workshop is simply one of many events that occur throughout an employee’s life[…]Read More…

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What if…. someone dominates the debrief?

  What you will See: One person answering most of the questions One person talking excessively. Most participants remaining silent. Likely Causes: The person wanted to show that he or she has the correct answers. Other participants are afraid to differ with the dominant person. The person may dominate the work environment and this is simply reflective of the work environment. How to Prevent it: After the dominant person answers, ask ‘What else?’  This will signal you are looking for alternative possibilities to create discussion. Be patient and wait for additional responses. If you expect one person to dominate, consider[…]Read More…

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What if…. someone gets overly competitive?

  What you will See: Taking the activity too seriously. Bending the rules or cheating. Extreme efforts to win or do better than others. Overly discussing the activity afterward with a focus on strategies and missed opportunities rather than on learning opportunities. Likely Causes: A naturally competitive environment in the workplace like a sales force. Naturally competitive people. Too much focus on the activity from the facilitator. Work environment filled with silos and butt-covering How to Prevent it: Focus the group’s attention on the activity’s purpose and learning goals when introducing it by front-loading the activity. For a naturally competitive[…]Read More…

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ABC’s Debrief

Used by our staff with great results for years and is based upon 10 years of research of legendary people. This debriefing model reflects the process that leads to a legendary life. This is incredible simplistic and easy to remember.  We hope you find this valuable. Awareness, The question - "What Do We Know?" or "What Are We Focusing On Right Now?" Beliefs, The question - "Why Should We Care?" Courage, The question - "What Do We Do Now?" ABC Methodology Level 1 - the mindset shift. Here you will challenge beliefs, change perceptions and perspectives and invite courageous action[...]Read More...
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Four Rules to Keep in Mind as a Facilitator

Of all the elements in experiential learning, the facilitator has the greatest impact upon the ultimate success or failure of the program. You’re Facilitative vs. Directive. Good facilitators know that they’re not here to “fix” anyone. They understand that they don’t always need to have all the answers. As a facilitator, you see your job as one where you help the participants expand the horizons of their awareness, and facilitate them taking responsibility for their actions, past, present, and future. You’re not a “know-it-all.” Being the facilitator doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be the “authority” on the subject[…]Read More…

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Qualities of a Facilitator

There are literally hundreds of qualities that are useful, both as a facilitator and as a human being.  For example, being a good, active listener!  Just because something is not mentioned below does not mean we do not need to remember the other powerful human skills we possess. Leader FOCUS Provide a focus for the group. STIMULATE Encourage constructive debate between group members. SUPPORT Bring out information from introverted members of the group and to allow new ideas to be submitted without judgment. PARTICIPATE When the group is interacting poorly or in the wrong direction the facilitator must be willing[…]Read More…

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The Simplest Debriefing / Questioning Method

For a SUPER simple method, and perfect for beginners, check out the ‘What’ Method.  The questioning strategy could not be more simple: What? So What? Now What? What? Get full description and discussion around the experience. “What happened during the activity? “ “What did you / the group do?” “What were your reactions?” So What? Add meaning and create dialogue. “So what does that mean to you?” “So what does the way the group responded mean for our work environment?” Now What? Create application for what was learned. “Now what?”  Seriously, you can ask that simple question! “Now that we[…]Read More…

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Why ask questions as a facilitator?

  This may seem like a no-brainer, but I want to take nothing for granted! There are two core skills that will help you become an effective facilitator, in ANY setting. First, be a good active listener and observer. Next become skilled in the art of asking the right questions in the right way at the right time. There are several ways you can do this. You can – if you feel you have all the answers and want to impress everyone with your knowledge – simply give ‘the answer’. Or you can seek participation and give group members the opportunity[…]Read More…

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Paraphrasing

  What is paraphrasing? Paraphrasing is repeating what somebody has said, using your own words. Why use paraphrasing? Benefits for the facilitator The technique forces you to listen very carefully, because when the person has finished speaking, you know that you will need to repeat what was said. In addition, you have the opportunity to find out whether you really understood what was said. Benefits for the speaking person Paraphrasing has both a calming and a clarifying effect. It reassures the speaker that his or her ideas are worth listening to. And it provides the speaker with the chance to[…]Read More…

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Facilitative Behaviors

The key to a good facilitation is to let the group discover the lesson that is appropriate.  As the facilitator, do not manipulate or guide the discussion with leading questions to get the group to discover what YOU feel is important. Introduction: One thing to always remember as a facilitator:  the quality of your closure is greatly influenced by the quality of your communication during the closure. In this section, the facilitative tools covered will enable you to work with any group, or through any structure experience.   Challenge yourself to master the following as a facilitator: Start-up Techniques are facilitative behaviors[…]Read More…

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MSU

Almost every one of us has a graduate degree from/in MSU – Making Stuff Up! I typically poke fun at myself and say, “I am not sure how many of you know, but I have a Ph.D. in MSU!  Did you know that?  Yeah, MSU – Making Stuff Up!“ We constantly make stuff up.  With a lack of information, we fill the gap.  And we almost never have ALL the information, so we MSU. In a ‘team’ or group context, it would be MSU about other people: I know why Jane didn’t forward that memo to me.  She is mad[…]Read More…

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Clarity Techniques

Facilitators use these techniques to reflect verbiage back to participants.  Do not judge their words, simply be a mirror for them to judge their own words.  Be careful not to ‘throw’ the responses in their face and always be polite, saying “Excuse me” if you need to interrupt. [threecol_one][/threecol_one] [threecol_one]Person Uses:[/threecol_one] [threecol_one_last]Facilitator Responds:[/threecol_one_last] [threecol_one]Universals[/threecol_one] [threecol_one]All Every Never[/threecol_one] [threecol_one_last]“ALL?” “Every?” “Never?”[/threecol_one_last] [threecol_one]’Rules'[/threecol_one] [threecol_one]Should Shouldn’t Must Can’t[/threecol_one] [threecol_one_last]”What would happen if…?” “What causes or prevents…?” “Must?” “Can’t?“[/threecol_one_last] [threecol_one]Non-Specific Verbs[/threecol_one] [threecol_one][/threecol_one] [threecol_one_last]”How specifically?“[/threecol_one_last] [threecol_one]Non-Specific Nouns[/threecol_one] [threecol_one]We It[/threecol_one] [threecol_one_last]”Who specifically?” “What specifically?“[/threecol_one_last] [threecol_one]Quantifiers[/threecol_one] [threecol_one]Too Much Too Many Too Expensive[/threecol_one] [threecol_one_last]”Compared to what?“[/threecol_one_last] [threecol_one]Statements[/threecol_one] [threecol_one]I don’t[…]Read More…

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Start-Up Techniques

Start-Up Techniques are facilitative behaviors that create, continue or re-start a safe environment for learning. In the beginning: Get agreement on the collective focus of the group/team. By saying, “What would this group like to create today?” [hr] Inform the group that they are responsible for how well the workshop goes. By saying, “Ask yourself and give yourself an honest assessment, ‘How am I showing up right now? Is my current attitude going to help or hinder the group?  Will it help myself?’” Consider using a story like the Two Wolves to help participants emotionally connect with being present. [hr] Create guidelines or[…]Read More…

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How to ask GREAT Facilitation Questions

  Questions During the Debrief The debrief is the most difficult aspect for non-facilitators because it feels SCARY! Look at FIMAGE and honestly assess yourself.  But in truth, the debrief is the best part of the activity and what leads to a learning opportunity versus playing a silly game. Below is some basic information about questions.  If you want more structure, consider reading about different Debriefing Methods. Tips for the debrief: Beginning the debrief is the most difficult part.  If you are unsure how to start, simply ask: “What happened during the activity?” Remember!  DO NOT ask simple answer questions. […]Read More…

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Sage in the Stage vs Guide on the Side

Actually, I am not even sure you could call this ‘Facilitation’ but many people are put into a facilitator role without considering what the role requires. I am talking about the facilitator being the ‘Sage on the Stage’. Being a facilitator means you have quasi leadership in the group. Inexperienced facilitators take this opportunities to show the group how smart they are! Many times, these ‘Sages’ ask leading questions designed to drive the participants to a desired end. And in participants reaching that end, they feel very smart and smug. This is manipulation, NOT facilitation. I know this very well[…]Read More…

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Workshop Leader Nightmare Part 2

Yesterday I wrote about a nightmarish workshop setup I walked into and had to improvise on the spot. You can read about it here if you missed it!   Making lemonade from lemons... I quickly popped in an Altoid, just in case, for the people in front of me, took a deep breath and got started. After a very short introduction and brief about why we were together, I quickly changed the order of my content.  Instead of providing them with key content, I went right into an individual activity called Choices, which shows the value of alignment with the[...]Read More...
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Preparing the Group

Preparing the group for a great experience takes some planning and preparation. They will be walking into the room with all kinds of baggage: Will we have to role-play? How many phone calls am I going to miss? Is this going to be boring? Traffic is going to be hell going home tonight!  When are we getting out of here? I have so much work to do, I don’t have time for this. Here we go again… How many times are we going to cover the same crap? How much more stuff can I make up? There are many different[…]Read More…

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Ideas to Follow Up on Workshops

  Following up on your session is incredibly important to helping participants.  See Raising the Collective Bar about why.  Below are some ideas: Follow up with them with recent articles and personal notes to keep them motivated. Send them the new ground rules established in the workshop, if applicable. If your group is geographically close, post these ground rules everywhere, but just one rule on a sheet of paper so the one idea stands out.  Move them around from time to time. Run a short activity or exercise on a regular basis.  Remember, you are practicing being a ‘team’, or[…]Read More…

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What if…. the debrief gets out of hand?

What you will see:  A gripe session Arguing or fighting Discussion moving off the topic Side bar discussions Likely Causes: Poor questioning from the facilitator Unresolved team issues How to Prevent it: Be careful of using activities when therapy is a more useful and honest solution. Do not use activities when you are seeking to change the behavior of one or two individuals Avoid questions that will put any single person on the spot. Avoid questions (and activities) that pit one individual against another. What to Do… Step in and stop the discussion before more damage is done by asking[…]Read More…

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What if…. participants don’t join the debrief?

  What you will see: Lack of eye contact with you, especially after you ask a question. Minimal one-word responses to your questions Shoulders shrugging Silence Likely Causes: They did not understand your question You haven’t given them enough time to formulate an answer. They fear embarrassment of a ‘wrong’ answer in front of you or your peers. They are angry about something – may be unrelated to the activity. How to Prevent it: Ask questions slowly and with patience. Pause after each question.  This pause may feel like an eternity to you, but it will give participants the time[…]Read More…

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What if… someone does not want to participate?

  What you will see: Rolling eyes: Lack of eye contact with you, or used negative body language Negative comments about the activity or the experience Direct comments they do not want to participate Likely causes: Past experiences that were unproductive or unpleasant Not understanding the purpose or value of what you are doing How to prevent it: Be clear about the purpose Be sure the purpose of the activity is relevant to the group and the challenges of the group What to do: Unless it is critical, don’t make a big deal of it. Remind them this is a[…]Read More…

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Debriefing Methods

Since facilitation is about the process, not content, you had better understand the process.   The closure, or debrief, is the process by which we reflect on experiences and discover how they link to different aspects of our lives.  This is when real learning takes place.  Closure is not simply asking random questions.  The questions you ask create a path that allows members of your group to think through an experience from beginning to end.   While the experience is important, it is the process of learning that is more significant.  Since each of us experience things in a different way, it[…]Read More…

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Responsibilities, Challenges and Abuses of Facilitators

The facilitation techniques included in this membership site will help you in all three critical areas below: The Single Greatest Responsibility of a Great Facilitator: Creating a safe and comfortable space for self and group discovery.  Learn how to set up an environment and deal with difficult people to fulfill your greatest responsibility. [hr] The Single Most Abused Role of a Facilitator: Using the opportunity to ask questions that get participants to answer the way you want.  In other words, manipulating the conversation in the debrief so self-discovery cannot happen.  Learn how to ask GREAT questions that create dialogue. [hr][…]Read More…

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What is a facilitator?

Strictly speaking, a facilitator makes a process easier.  A facilitator does not add or subtract from the process, but helps bring about an outcome by providing guidance and assistance. “How” something happens is just as important, if not more important, than “what” happens.  The process of communication, team building, leadership, etc. can change the outcome, so spending time understanding and improving the process is incredibly valuable. A great facilitator helps participants experience and discuss the “How” so better choices can be made to the process and create a better outcome. At their best, a facilitator is like an artist – an[…]Read More…

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Discussion vs. Dialogue

As a facilitator, how do you intentionally select between the two  First, we need to understand the difference between them.  Below are two, of many, views on dialogue and discussion. What do I Know? What is Dialogue? David Bohm wrote in his book, On Dialogue, dialogue “will make possible a flow of meaning…out of which may emerge some new understanding…which may not have been in the starting point at all.”  He goes on: “A dialogue can be among any number of people, not just two. Even one person can have a sense of dialogue with himself.” Dialogue requires: A complete[...]Read More...
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Probing

  What is probing? Probing is asking follow-up questions in order to gain more understanding, such as: Can you explain further? Could you put it in another way? Can you please tell me more about that? But why, how, who, when, where? Anything else? Probing is rather like peeling away the layers of an onion The objective is to move towards the center of the onion This means that by probing the facilitator can get closer to the real reason behind something or gain as much understanding as possible. [hr] Why is probing an important skill for a facilitator and[…]Read More…

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DIGA – Experiential Learning Cycle

There are several debrief methods to choose from and DIGA is one we used while training hundreds of facilitators to be more effective because of the simplicity of the questioning that could lead to marvelous discovery. DIGA was first introduced in 1975 by University Associates as a simple method to focus a debrief: Describe Interpret Generalize Apply While I now use our ABC’s debrief, I still have DIGA as a backbone because I have used it successfully so many times. If you are every stuck, you could always start with the word and you were guaranteed not to ask a[…]Read More…

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Maintenance Techniques to Get People Back on Track

  Facilitative behaviors used during a discussion to help people get back on track: Throw-Back: Team Member: “It is not possible get through this obstacle!” Facilitator: “If it was possible, what would need to happen?” [hr] Share Observations: Facilitator: “It is very quiet.  What does the silence mean?” [hr] Review Group Agreements: Facilitator: “Remember the ground rules we discussed as we begin to talk about this event.” (If there were any established.) [hr] Check-In: If a group is really struggling or people are becoming very frustrated, interrupt the activity and ask: “So what are you doing right now that is[…]Read More…

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Don’t ‘We’ on Yourself!

A fun way to keep the debrief light is to start getting people to notice how often we use the non-specific noun ‘We’, which we all do frequently when really we mean ‘I’. It is one particular way to spread around the responsibility and not take accountability for our own actions, opinions, failures and successes. Listen closely. When a person says ‘We’, when it should be ‘I’, stop them politely and say: “Don’t ‘We’ on yourself’.  Who specifically?” The group will catch on quickly and join in the fun.  However, watch that it does not take away from the meaning[…]Read More…

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Join or Judge

This a powerful technique to check in with people and help them make better decisions. Join or Judge is similar to Help or Hinder, but is *just* different enough to merit providing this for you and this is better used by pulling a person aside for a moment. Many people would rather sit back and criticize – judge – instead of joining in and stepping ‘outside their comfort zone’ and ‘Join’. Do not be upset by this.  It is completely natural and normal because we have been taught that judging is perfectly acceptable behavior while joining is mocked, “Looks like[…]Read More…

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Story of Two Wolves Legend

The Two Wolves Legend is a great parable to help participants make a conscious decision to actively participate. An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.” “The same fight is going[…]Read More…

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Help or Hinder?

Helping or Hindering what? The answer to this question is something that you need to answer in every area of your life.  Once you have determined what it is you would like to create, you can then begin to see how what you are doing is contributing to or taking away from that dream. This works for your work groups, each member of your ‘team’ or group and even your family members. Understanding what the desired outcome is, and recognizing that every action taken will contribute to or take away from that outcome, is a powerful realization and an awesome[…]Read More…

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