Facilitate … with careful measurements … like a tailor



The only man who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew every time he sees me, while all the rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them. George Bernard Shaw, author.


I read this quote recently and thought about the way I could apply it to facilitation. Like a tailor, I want to measure each situation anew every time I facilitate, whether it is many times with the same group of participants or facilitating the same approach or technique with a new client.

I recently facilitated a strategic planning process for the third time with an organization. Ten years ago, I facilitated the development of its first comprehensive strategic plan; then, the first renewal of the plan five years ago; and now, the second renewal. Each time, I, the board and staff members have carefully measured anew – what has happened, what has changed, what is needed, what are dreams and realities.

Ten years ago, our measurements said that we needed an intensive and wide-ranging stakeholder engagement process. We asked clients, staff, board members, funders, and community partners to tell us what they liked and disliked about the organization and what they hoped would happen in the future. We asked them to help create a vision, mission and philosophy. We held day long workshops, used surveys and individual interviews, researched similar organizations, conducted an environment scan and trend analysis. The end result, to use the tailor analogy, was a closet full of new clothes.

Five years ago, the measurements changed. The organization had achieved tremendous success and we did not need to conduct the same breadth of stakeholder engagement. We celebrated successes, identified what was meaningful and relevant in the vision, mission and philosophy, asked stakeholders what had worked well and what need to change, and set new goals. The end result was the removal of old and unused clothes in the closet, the repair of favourite items and the addition of a few pieces of high-quality sparkly new clothes.

This year, as we renewed the plan for another five years, the organization continues to thrive and excel. Many measurements are the same: mission, vision, philosophy, goals. However, the Board and Staff identified that the strategic plan contains too many outcomes and strategies and we decided to simplify and prioritize. The result is a streamlined, fully functional closet with the essential clothes, that is, a concise and precise strategic plan with the important goals and strategies to guide the organization for five years.

My facilitation blog question is: How do you measure anew in your facilitation role?



Facilitate … with careful measurements … like a tailor