The success of a session can hinge on one moment of facilitation. A facilitator recognizes these moments and responds appropriately for the benefit of the group. This post is the third in my Short Series of Facilitation Moments; stories of my “well done” and “oops” moments.
Last month, I posted a story about a “well done” moment when a participant challenged me. 😀 In this story, I write about a moment when I was less successful in a similar situation. 😒 Thankfully, this moment did not derail the session. However, my response took up time which the participants could have used more productively.
I facilitated a session with an organization to create a 50-year vision and develop five-year strategic goals. We held an inspiring discussion about the 50-Year Plan which ended with excitement. Using a consensus method, the group then produced six goal statements.
To set priorities, I suggested a Gradient of Agreement method.
🔸 On the wall, I placed a rating card next to each goal.
🔸 Each participant using a checkmark would rate each goal on a scale of 1 (lowest priority) to 5 (highest priority) using the criterion of how the goal would advance the organization towards the 50-Year Vision.
🔸 We would quickly see the results.
A participant challenged me, saying that the rating system would not work unless numerical weights were used.
🔹 I invited him to explain his method which he did.
🔹 I explained my intent with the simpler 5-scale method. He insisted it was flawed.
🔹 I asked the group of 14 participants to discuss which method they preferred. This took almost 30 minutes.
What We Used
The first individual was adamant and I finally asked the group if they were agreeable to using his method. They were and we continued with his weighted rating system. Did it end with a significantly different result? No, and as such, I could have facilitated this discussion better.
What did I do that DIDN’T HELP?
✖ I let the discussion go on (and on) too long. I gave too much time to a decision that wasn’t significant in terms of the result.
✖ I favored the importance of the individual over the collective more than was necessary.
What WOULD I DO in a similar situation?
✅ I would shorten the group discussion about the preferred method to five minutes and if necessary, vote.
➡ Note: This approach would not work if the method proposed by a participant would significantly change the group dynamics or the outcomes. That would be a different “in the moment” decision for a facilitator and would require a group discussion about the significance of the change.
I’d love to hear your facilitation moments: successful and not.