Facilitating…the art of making a task easier.

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Objective –  The objective of this event was to gather people for a focused conversations to confirm assumed conclusions.  A large committee had been working on future plans for this association and had developed several assumptions.   An event was planned specifically to invite participants to provide their opinions on questions.   The participants that would be answering the questions range from having no previous knowledge of this committee’s plans to being intimately familiar with the plans and process.

The room was set up in tables of 8-10 people per table.  Attendee list was sorted and assigned to tables to force participants that have arrived together from the same state to not sit at the same table.  Facilitators in charge of each “project” were at assigned tables.  One facilitator lead per table.

After the group had completed their meal, dishes were cleared away and the overview of the event was described.   The facilitators at each table had 15 minutes to conduct a focused conversation on their particular topic. The questions had been reviewed to not be “leading” questions and as open ended as possible.  The intent was that the results of the questions  would confirm or deny assumptions.

After 15 minutes, time was called and the facilitators from each table, moved one table to their right.  They were then able to start anew with another set of participants.  The participants had name badges on and an indication of what state they were from.  This additional information gave some insight to the individual table facilitators as to the background of the discussion from the participants.  It became apparent to them that larger states had different outlooks than smaller states.   It was also apparent to them that a large percent of their assumptions were not true.  Additionally, discussion from the group resulted in the fact that there was a great need for better communications all around and that basic knowledge that was assumed, was not understood.

The recap of this event was that it was very worthwhile and the insights gained by this committee will save them time, energy and instilled in them the importance for communications as well as a “predicted” response to the end results of their efforts.

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