1. Establish desired outcomes.
Every successful facilitation begins with a clear statement of purpose and desired outomes. We work with the executive sponsor to ensure that this purpose is clear, and to develop a measurable set of outcomes.
2. Interview participants and review relevant information.
We review relevant documentation and interview all participants—or at minimum, the key players—to gain a better understanding of the environment and issues that might emerge; and to build working relationships in advance of the session.
Depending on the purpose, and particularly for larger groups, we might have participants respond to a short survey or, in some cases, an extensive “data gathering” questionnaire.
If our engagement involves facilitating a planning process (strategic, brand or marketing), we will often interview and/or survey employees, clients, customers, members or donors.
3. Create the agenda.
We work with the executive sponsor to craft an agenda that will achieve the agreed-upon outcomes, recommending tasks, questions and approaches. The agenda specifies what takes place, along with the allotted time and order, and identifies items that require participants to work individually, in dyads or as members of small groups.
4. Develop and circulate a briefing package.
We summarize the interview and survey results, along with other relevant information, highlighting common issues and concerns. Distributed prior to the meeting, this summary provides context, and allows participants to quickly focus on the critical aspects of the topic at hand.
5. Facilitate the session, assuming one of two roles:
- In some situations, we take the role of a neutral and unbiased expert in facilitation process. Our mandate is to draw out and record the knowledge of the participants involved in a conversation, help them synthesize that knowledge into a rational set of conclusions and decisions, and provide an environment in which the key stakeholders can take ownership of, and commit to, the choices they have made.
- In others, we are both facilitator and consultant. While our mandate is very much to draw out, record and help synthesize, when wearing our consultant’s hat we offer insights and specialized knowledge to help focus the conversation and ensure the outcome is exactly as agreed upon.
6. Follow up with a written summary and debriefing.
We document decisions made and actions that will be taken, identifying those responsible and the time allocated to an action’s completion.
We hold a debriefing session with the executive sponsor following the session to review the results in relation to pre-established outcomes, and to identify the action items that will require follow up by ourselves or others.