Facilitating…the art of making a task easier.

Today I facilitated a group of 23 association members including Board, Past-Board, Committee Chairs, Committee Members and in-active members. There may have been a few non-members too. Our goal today, was to revisit our Mission, Vision, Value, Goals and Objectives. Most of you are probably saying, how can you do that in a day? Well sometimes you just have to do with the time that you are given to accomplish the task.

In the group, the most senior member had been in the industry for 56 years. The newest member had been in the industry for 3 years. Our participants ranged both in career category, demographic and age. Of the 23 people, 15 knew each other well. The other 8 were somewhat familiar with the other volunteers.

Being familiar with this group, I knew they would try and multi-task with their phones unless I get them 100% engaged in this process. Secondly, I needed to keep their hands busy so that they would not reach for their phones. Each person was given a personal size container of play doe. The type of play doe you give your children. It was awesome. People would be molding the play dough as they spoke, negotiated and discussed. Some of them were creative with the play doe. Some even made mission related icons from it. We capture pictures of the creations. You could hear the laughter and the smiles as they discussed and created.

We additionally had seating assignments for the participants. The current Board members were dispersed among the groups of 4-5 members in each group. After each step of the work accomplished, we celebrated, took a quick break and the board members all rotated one table to their left. That way, the had the opportunity to lead and participate in a variety of conversations with new participants each time.

Another consideration was allowing the most conversation and dialog possible in the least amount of time. Knowing that everyone would want to be heard and we didn’t have time to listen to each individual one at a time, we used group dynamics to filter down ideas. Groups brainstormed at each step, and narrowed their own choices to the limited few. The group then combined the top choices from each group and eliminated duplicates.

It worked very well and was not at all redundant to the group as I had feared. In fact, after the first couple of rounds, their expectations made them more efficient.

Lastly, during the introductions, we asked each participant to also list their super hero name on their nametag. Although we did not take the time to call out each of the names during the introductions, many of them were called their super hero names by the participants in their working groups. I’m sure that many of their “super hero” names will follow them for years to come.

All in all, it was a great day, full of energy, participant, great snacks, hot breakfast and working hot lunch. Although we would have liked to take the group overnight for a two day retreat or spread this out over a few sessions, we achieved our mission in a fun and engaging way.

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