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The Secrets of Facilitation: The SMART Guide to Getting Results with Groups, New and Revised

ISBN: 978-1-118-20613-3
496 pages
October 2012, Jossey-Bass
The Secrets of Facilitation: The SMART Guide to Getting Results with Groups, New and Revised (1118206134) cover image

The revised edition of this facilitation classic offers a wealth of targeted techniques for facilitators who seek effective, consistent, and repeatable results. Based on Michael Wilkinson's proven SMART (Structured Meeting And Relating Techniques) approach, The Secrets of Facilitation can help to achieve stellar results when managing, presenting, teaching, planning, and selling, as well as other professional and personal situations.

This expanded edition includes new chapters on facilitating virtual meetings, cross-cultural teams, and large groups and conferences. It also provides a series of strategies for engaging teams, additional information about making meetings more productive, and further guidance on preventing dysfunctional behavior. In addition, the book contains a wealth of fresh case studies and an ancillary website with must-have tools and techniques for both the beginner and the seasoned facilitator.

Praise for the First Edition of The Secrets of Facilitation

"One of the single most powerful processes is the ability to successfully lead a group to an impactful, actionable outcome. In The Secrets of Facilitation, beginning and experienced facilitators alike will find tools to take their results to the next level."

Jim Canfield, chief learning officer, TEC International

"This book shares 'The Secrets' that have been the basis of my facilitation practice for over a decade."

Kerri McBride, past chair, International Association of Facilitators

"In my career, I've seen many, many facilitators. Michael Wilkinson is the best. 'The Secrets' explain why."

Len Roberts, CEO, RadioShack

"We have trained over 100 leaders and business analysts in 'The Secrets.' Great facilitation works."

Peter Scott, executive general manager, MLC–National Australia Bank

"At last there is a practical, hands-on guide for anyone who works with groups or teams. This book delivers!"

Ann Herrmann-Nehdi, CEO, Herrmann International, Herrmann Brain Dominance Indicator

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INTRODUCTION TO THE SECOND EDITION xvii

What’s New in the Second Edition? xviii

Case Study: The Secrets in Action—How Two Practitioners Have Put the Secrets to Work xx

INTRODUCTION: A POWERFUL SECRET xxiii

Case Study: Learning the Powerful Secret xxiii

Secret #1—The Fundamental Secret of Facilitation xxiv

Case Study: The Sanitation Workers xxiv

Learning to Apply the Fundamental Secret xxvi

The Principles of SMART Facilitation xxviii

More Ways to Apply the Secret xxxix

What This Book Will Do for You xxxix

Where to Start xl

I. WHAT IS THE ROLE OF A FACILITATOR? 1

Questions Answered in This Chapter 1

Case Study: The Facilitator’s Role in Civic Leadership Groups 1

Sample Scenarios: Group Solutions Needed 3

When Is Facilitation Appropriate? 4

Secret #2—The Secret of When to Use Facilitation 5

Definition: What Is a Facilitated Session? 5

What Are the Responsibilities of a Facilitator? 6

The Soul of a Facilitator 7

When Is Facilitation Not Appropriate? 8

Facilitation: Where Is the Industry Today? 10

What’s Next for Facilitation? 11

Applying the Secrets to Gain Buy-In to a Strategic Plan 13

Facilitator’s Checklist for Understanding Facilitation and the Roles of a Facilitator 14

Exercise Your Skills 15

II. THE SECRETS TO QUESTIONING: DESIGN YOUR QUESTIONS TO GET BETTER ANSWERS 17

Questions Answered in This Chapter 17

Case Study: Starting Questions 17

The Starting Question 18

Secret #3—The Secret of the Starting Question 20

Case Study: The Starting Question to Engage the VP’s Number Two 26

The Reacting Questions 27

Secret #4—The Secret to Guiding a Group 28

Floating an Idea 29

Secret #5—The Secret to Influencing Idea Ownership 30

Applying the Questioning Techniques 32

A Final Note on Questioning 34

Facilitator’s Checklist for Questioning 34

Exercise Your Skills 35

III. THE SECRETS TO PREPARING: KNOW YOUR 5 PS 37

Questions Answered in This Chapter 37

Case Study: The Principals’ Conference 37

The 5 Ps of Preparation 38

Secret #6—The Secret to Preparation: The 5 Ps 38

It’s All About Purpose 39

Secret #7—The Secret Power of Purpose 40

Defining the Product 41

Secret #8—The Secret to Defi ning the Session Product: The 3 Hs 42

Selecting Participants 42

Identifying the Probable Issues 45

Preparing the Process 46

The Meeting Notice 46

Case Study: Preparing for Vision Councils 47

Special Topic: Managing a Sponsor 48

Secret #9—The Secret to Managing a Sponsor’s Presence 51

Applying the 5 Ps 53

Facilitator’s Checklist for Preparing 54

Exercise Your Skills 55

IV. THE SECRETS TO STARTING: INFORM, EXCITE, EMPOWER, INVOLVE 57

Questions Answered in This Chapter 57

Case Study: Kicking off Vision 2020 57

Opening the Session 58

Secret #10—The Secret to a Strong Opening 59

Secret #11—The Secret to Exciting in the Opening 62

Gaining Buy-In to the Agenda 63

Secret #12—The Secret to Gaining Agenda Buy-In 63

Using Ground Rules 65

Secret #13—The Secret to Using Ground Rules 65

Case Study: Avoiding the Executive Feeding Frenzy 68

Using Parking Boards 70

Secret #14—The Secret to Parking Boards 70

Effective Introductions 71

Secret #15—The Secret to Effective Introductions 72

Opening Nonfacilitated Meetings 73

When Should You Arrive for the Meeting? 73

Getting Started on Time 74

Secret #16—The Secret to Starting on Time 74

Applying the Secrets to Starting 75

Facilitator’s Checklist for Getting the Session Started 76

Exercise Your Skills 77

V. THE SECRETS TO FOCUSING: ESTABLISH THE COURSE, AVOID DETOURS 79

Questions Answered in This Chapter 79

Case Study: Facilitating the Senator and the Chief of Staff 79

Secret #17—The Secret to Using Checkpoints 79

Focusing the Group: Using Checkpoints 79

The Extended Checkpoint 83

Warming Up a Group 84

Secret #18—The Secret to Warming Up a Group 84

Delivering Accurate, Clear, and Concise Directions (PeDeQs) 85

Secret #19—The Secret to Giving Clear Directions 85

Keeping a Group on Track 88

Secret #20—The Secret to Keeping a Group on Track 88

Managing Breakout Groups 90

Secret #21—The Secret to Effective Breakout Groups 90

Secret #22—The Secret to Rotating Flip Charts 95

Applying the Secrets to Focusing 97

Facilitator’s Checklist for Focusing a Group 97

Exercise Your Skills 99

VI. THE SECRETS TO RECORDING: THE POWER OF THE PEN—USE IT, DON’T ABUSE IT, MAKE IT THEIRS 101

Questions Answered in This Chapter 101

Case Study: Public Safety Collaborative 101

How Facilitators Abuse the Pen 102

Using, Not Abusing the Pen 104

Secret #23—The Secret to Using, Not Abusing, the Power of the Pen 104

Case Study: The Power of the Pen, ELMO, and Parking Boards 107

Knowing What to Record 107

Secret #24—The Secret to Knowing What to Record 108

Managing the Recording Process 110

Secret #25—The Secret to Keeping the Recording Concise 112

Using Strategies to Avoid Lulls While Writing 113

Secret #26—The Secret to Avoiding Lulls While Writing 114

Additional Techniques for Recording 116

The Seven Deadly Sins of Facilitation 118

Applying the Secrets to Recording 119

Facilitator’s Checklist for Recording 119

Exercise Your Skills 120

VII. THE SECRETS TO INFORMATION GATHERING: KNOW YOUR TOOLS AND HOW TO USE THEM 123

Questions Answered in This Chapter 123

Case Study: The Retailing Conference 123

Understanding the Major Information Gathering and Processing Functions 125

Understanding Processing Groups 126

Understanding Processing Order 127

Gathering and Processing Information 127

Secret #27—The Secret to Gathering Information 127

Gathering Facts 128

Secret #28—The Secret to Getting the Details 129

Categorizing 130

Secret #29—The Secret to Categorizing 130

Inquiring 133

Secret #30—The Secret to Q&A Sessions 133

Generating Ideas 136

Secret #31—The Secret to Generating Ideas 136

Prioritizing 138

Secret #32—The Secret to Prioritizing 139

Reporting 143

Secret #33—The Secret to Reporting Back 144

Getting Feedback 145

Secret #34—The Secret to Getting Quality Feedback 145

Additional Information Gathering and Processing Strategies 147

Applying the Secrets to Information Gathering 150

Case Study: Facilitation in the Classroom 151

Facilitator’s Checklist for Information Gathering 152

Exercise Your Skills 153

VIII. THE SECRETS TO CLOSING: REVIEW, DEFINE, EVALUATE, END, DEBRIEF 155

Questions Answered in This Chapter 155

Case Study: Polling for Agreement at the Close 155

Secret #35—The Secret to a Strong Close 157

Reviewing Activities Completed and Personal Objectives 157

Confirming Commitment to Decisions Made 158

Secret #36—The Secret to Confirming Commitment to Decisions 158

Clearing the Issues List 163

Secret #37—The Secret to Clearing the Issues List 163

Assigning Actions 164

Secret #38—The Secret to Assigning Actions 164

Defining What Can Be Communicated About the Session 165

Evaluating the Session 167

Ending the Session 169

Debriefing 169

What If the Session Is Running Behind? 170

What If the Session Is Going to Run Over? 171

Delivering a Partial Close 171

Facilitator’s Checklist for Closing 172

Exercise Your Skills 173

IX. THE SECRETS TO MANAGING DYSFUNCTION: CONSCIOUS PREVENTION, EARLY DETECTION, CLEAN RESOLUTION 175

Questions Answered in This Chapter 175

Case Study: The Chairman and the COO 175

Dysfunctional Behavior—What Is It? 177

Secret #39—The Secret to Understanding Dysfunction 178

Techniques for Conscious Prevention 180

Secret #40—The Secret to Preventing Dysfunction 180

Techniques for Early Detection 183

Secret #41—The Secret to Detecting Dysfunction 183

Techniques for Clean Resolution 185

Secret #42—The Secret to Resolving Dysfunction 185

Recommended Responses to Various Dysfunctions 188

When the Unexpected Happens 196

Secret #43—The Secret to Responding When the Unexpected Happens 197

Responding to Mistakes and Attacks 198

Case Study: Making a Mistake as the Facilitator 198

Secret #44—The Secret to Responding to Mistakes and Attacks 199

Rewarding Functional Behavior 201

Lesson Learned 201

Applying the Secrets to Managing Dysfunction 203

Facilitator’s Checklist for Managing Dysfunction 205

Exercise Your Skills 207

X. THE SECRETS TO CONSENSUS BUILDING: CREATE AND MAINTAIN A CONSENSUS-FOCUSED PROCESS 209

Questions Answered in This Chapter 209

Case Study: Consensus on Values 209

Defining Consensus 210

Secret #45—The Secret to Understanding Consensus 211

Deciding How to Decide 212

Secret #46—The Secret of Five-Finger Consensus 214

Understanding Why People Disagree 215

Secret #47—The Secret to Understanding Disagreement 215

Secret #48—The Secret to Resolving a Level 3 Disagreement 221

Filling Your Toolbox of Consensus Building Techniques 223

Secret #49—The Secret to Resolving a Level 1 Disagreement 224

Secret #50—The Secret to Resolving a Level 2 Disagreement 231

Case Study: Improving Customer Delivery Times 234

Secret #51—The Secret to Using Weighted Scoring 236

Revisiting the Family Vacation 241

Applying the Secrets to Consensus 242

Secret #52—The Secret to Gaining Consensus on Wording 242

Facilitator’s Checklist for Consensus Building 244

Exercise Your Skills 245

XI. THE SECRETS TO ENERGY: SET THE PACE, ANTICIPATE THE LULLS, REACT ACCORDINGLY 247

Questions Answered in This Chapter 247

Case Study: Learning the Impact of Energy 247

Understanding the Impact of Energy 248

Secret #53—The Secret of Energy: The Three Es 248

Projecting Energy from the Start 250

Secret #54—The Secret to Starting with Energy 250

Case Study: The Low-Key Facilitator 253

Adjusting to the Lullaby Times 253

Secret #55—The Secret to Adjusting to the Lullaby Times 254

Maintaining Energy During the Session 254

Secret #56—The Secret to Maintaining Energy 255

Case Study: A Team Building Mistake 258

Using Team Building Activities 259

Secret #57—The Secret to Using Team Building Activities 259

Crossing the River: My Favorite Team Building Exercise 260

Facilitator’s Checklist for Energy 264

Exercise Your Skills 265

XII. THE SECRETS TO AGENDA SETTING: ADAPT YOUR AGENDA TO ADDRESS THE NEED 267

Questions Answered in This Chapter 267

Case Study: Pay for Performance 267

Understanding Process 268

Using Standard Agendas 269

Secret #58—The Secret of Standard Agendas 269

Customizing the Agenda 273

Secret #59—The Secret to Customizing the Agenda 274

Developing an Agenda from Scratch 275

Secret #60—The Secret to Developing an Agenda from Scratch 275

Knowing Your Process Cold: The Facilitation Guide 277

Secret #61—The Secret to Knowing Your Process Cold 277

Estimating and Tracking Time 279

Secret #62—The Secret to Estimating Time 279

Applying the Secrets to the First Meeting of a Task Force 281

Facilitator’s Checklist for Agenda Setting 284

Exercise Your Skills 285

XIII. THE SECRETS TO FACILITATING VIRTUAL MEETINGS: KEEP EVERYONE FOCUSED AND ENGAGED 287

Questions Answered in This Chapter 287

Case Study: The Virtual Strategy Monitoring Session 287

Secret #63—The Secret to Preparing for a Virtual Meeting 293

Choosing and Preparing Your Technology 293

Preparing for the Meeting 294

Starting the Meeting 295

Running the Meeting 296

Secret #64—The Secret to Engaging People Virtually 297

Special Cases 298

Facilitator’s Checklist for Virtual Meetings 300

Exercise Your Skills 302

XIV. THE SECRETS TO FACILITATING LARGE GROUPS AND CONFERENCES: USE THE POWER OF PROCESS TO GUIDE AND ENGAGE 303

Questions Answered in This Chapter 303

Case Study: Facilitating a Thousand People 303

Facilitating Large Groups 305

Secret #65—The Secret to Facilitating Large Groups 305

Facilitating Conferences 307

Case Study: Facilitating a Conference on Spirituality 307

Secret #66—The Secret to Facilitating Conferences 310

Secret #67—The Secret to Managing Time with Speakers 312

Facilitator’s Checklist for Facilitating Large Groups and Conferences 314

Exercise Your Skills 315

XV. THE SECRETS TO FACILITATING CROSS-CULTURAL GROUPS: RECOGNIZE YOUR OWN BIASES TO BETTER ADAPT TO THE CULTURE OF OTHERS 317

Questions Answered in This Chapter 317

Introduction 317

Understanding Cultural Competency 318

Secret #68—The Secret to Facilitating Cross-Cultural Groups 323

Applying the Secrets to Cross-Cultural Groups 333

Case Study: What Is the Objective? 334

Case Study: Facilitating the Strategic Plan for a Caribbean Government 336

Case Study: Facilitating for Morehouse 347

Interrupting the Effects of Institutional Power Through Facilitation 351

Facilitator’s Checklist for Facilitating Cross-Cultural Groups 364

Exercise Your Skills 366

XVI. THE SECRETS TO BUILDING AN INTERNAL FACILITATOR CAPABILITY: BUILD THE CASE, RAISE AWARENESS 369

Questions Answered in This Chapter 369

Introduction 369

Case Study: The Pull Strategy at Hydro One 370

Case Study: From Training to Something Bigger at Direct Supply 377

Case Study: The Facilitator Development Program at Saudi Aramco 379

Best Practice Strategies 385

Secret #69—The Secret to Establishing an Internal Facilitator Cadre 386

Exercise Your Skills 394

XVII. SPECIAL TOPICS 395

Questions Answered in This Chapter 395

Apply the Secrets to Running a Simple Meeting 395

Applying the Secrets as a Meeting Participant 402

Secret #70—The Secret to Guerrilla Facilitation 402

Applying the Secrets to Very Small Groups 404

Applying the Secrets as a Consultant or Subject Matter Expert 405

Case Study: The Strategy Firm and the Nonprofit 406

Becoming a Certifi ed Facilitator 408

Facilitator Neutrality: Fact or Fiction? 412

EPILOGUE 417

RESOURCE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS 419

Leadership Strategies—The Facilitation Company 419

The FindaFacilitator Database 420

The International Association of Facilitators 420

The International Institute for Facilitation 420

Training Courses in Facilitation 420

Recommended Books 424

70 Secrets of Facilitation 427

Acknowledgments 431

The Author 433

Index 435

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Michael Wilkinson is founder and managing director for Leadership Strategies–The Facilitation Company, which specializes in facilitation training and in providing facilitators to lead executive retreats and task forces. He was named Facilitator of the Year by the Southeast Association of Facilitators in 2003 and is author of four books.

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