A Facilitation Moment 3 – Oops; not my best response!

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.

Two rating scales: one with numbers only and one with a weighted response.

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.

A Facilitation Moment 3 – Oops; not my best response!