Monday, January 24, 2011

Another tool--the Facilitated Discussion

After a meeting with a client, my friend and colleague Pam complimented me on having "lots of arrows in my quiver." She meant that I had many methods to choose from, when customizing a program. Wow. I love that. As the psychologist Abraham Maslow said, "If you only have a hammer, you see every problem as a nail." Last month I wrote that coaching a few employees may be more appropriate than training the entire group. Another awesome tool is the facilitated discussion.

Facilitators use structured questions, exercises, and specific debriefing patterns to help a group productively explore issues. Techniques such as "The Workshop Method" or the "Affinity Method" are useful to:

•Channel and guide participant input
•Integrate diverse and creative ideas
•Build an informed group consensus
•Develop purposeful, workable solutions.
If the team's dynamic is dysfunctional or simply unknown, a facilitated discussion can uncover root causes and create action plans. Because members feel listened to, they are motivated to participate and follow through on these plans.

But make no mistake: facilitated discussions are alive with both promise and risk. They create a venue to hear the real struggles and hopes of the participants. Rather than applying a formula, these structures allow us to deeply listen to the real situation and work with it. We may have to tolerate uncertainty and discomfort. Deeper levels of conflict may be exposed. But, just like the rigors of creating better health--we need to persevere through discomfort to arrive at healing. The pain is the precursor of new potentials and creativity.

© 2011 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

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