“PAC₃E”: Engagement in facilitation promotes creativity

This is the last of INIFAC’s (inifac.org) six overarching facilitator competencies: Presence, Assessment, Communication, Control, Consistency and Engagement.

Number 6 is Engagement: “Master Facilitators know and use multiple techniques for engaging a group, problem solving, decision-making, promoting creativity and raising energy.”

1. Facilitator knows and uses multiple techniques and tools for problem solving and decision-making.

How do you engage a group? In our previous installment we introduced Leadership Strategies’ “IEEI” technique: Inform, Empower, Excite, Involve. (https://www.leadstrat.com/tuesdays-master-facilitation-tip-ieei/). This works. So does your personality. “Work the room” before the session starts. Talk personally to each person. Be real. Show you’re interested in them and care. (If you don’t care, don’t fake it, hand the facilitator’s P-E-N off to someone who does.) Call on people by name. Spark dialog.

2. Facilitator knows and uses multiple techniques and tools for problem solving and decision-making.

Lean has great techniques for problem solving (5 Why, Root Cause Analysis, A3) and decision-making (Choosing by Analysis using A3) and the larger world has even more available. As you grow in your facilitation skills you want to learn more of these and find ones that work best for you and your teams.

3. Facilitator knows and uses multiple techniques and tools for promoting creativity.

Every person in your meeting has a big, creative brain just waiting to burst forth. You, as facilitator are the liberator of those brains! Maybe the process you need this time is “brainstorming” in which everyone is encouraged to write on a post-it ANY idea no matter how zany. No criticizing or censoring until all creative ideas are out there. Or maybe it’s as simple as giving everyone one or two minutes to write their thoughts on the current agenda topic and then go Round Robin and share them and discuss. If the meeting is virtual, use Miro or Mural with their virtual post-it functionality to post ideas, then “clump and dump” those with affinity to get some order in the responses. Liberating Structures has ideas like 1-2-4-ALL (https://www.liberatingstructures.com/1-1-2-4-all/). And if you’re working with a team over several years and want to “spice up your meetings” my colleague Michael Wilkinson offers “49 Ways” to shake things up: https://www.leadstrat.com/49-ways-to-spice-up-your-meetings-2/. Some are wackier than others.

4. Facilitator knows and uses multiple techniques and tools for impacting energy.

The energy in the room starts with you, the Facilitator. Your voice, your enthusiasm, your movement around the room, calling on individuals, encouraging, setting time limits – all of these impact the energy in the room. Fluorescent lighting saps energy. Rooms without good ventilation sap energy (and are dangerous). If the group is losing energy have them stand up! Raise their arms. Move around. Take a 10-minute break and go outdoors for fresh air…everyone…required.

Facilitate! Free the creative beast lurking inside all those great brains on your team!

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