July 26, 2018

It’s not the meeting’s fault that it sucked!

The Artful Facilitator is a new program to master the art and science of facilitation and turn them into Magic

We’ve all been in meetings or other sessions which have sucked all our energy, haven’t we? I know I have. Sessions where people have been on their laptops or checking email on their phones and not paying attention to the proceedings. What about when 1 or 2 people dominate?

We’ve also experienced meetings where everyone is in love with the shape of the problem; when the time allotted for the session is over and no decisions have been made. So they decide to have another session to make some decisions... or they rush through some meaningless actions causing the meeting to run over, making people late for their next session. And let's not forget the group of people, impatiently waiting outside the room to start their meeting…?

Contrary to this, a meeting or a session that is skillfully facilitated:

  • Engages everyone in the room;
  • Lets all the voices be heard;
  • Remains focussed on its purpose; and 
  • Unlocks wisdom and creativity beyond your expectations.

The contrast between the two is huge. We leave the second one with a sense of achievement; feeling our time has been well spent, something worthwhile has been achieved, and we maybe even feel energized.

The Artful Facilitator

What is it that makes the difference? 

It starts with having some facilitation tools & techniques (the science), however that only takes one so far. The magic really happens when we have developed the art of facilitation, and when we blend that with the science.

When this magical combination happens, these are some of the things that we will begin to notice:

  • Everyone quickly shifts into a state of ‘being present’;
  • Participants contribute from their strengths and their hearts;
  • Ideas are generated and solutions may be found;
  • Constructive disagreement takes place;
  • Clear decisions can be reached with buy in from everyone;
  • Real outcomes are achieved faster;
  • Trust, collaboration and accountability grows; and
  • New effective behavior results and continues beyond the session.

To access this magic, we need to look inside ourselves. Only then can we develop our art.

Imagine you have had a tough sprint and you now need to facilitate the retrospective. You know it is not going to be easy. Take the time to prepare for the upcoming session by following this 4-step process:

  1. Take responsibility for yourself. Many times we go into sessions when we are feeling defensive. Defensiveness is the quickest way to a failed session. You begin to take responsibility for yourself by acknowledging that you are feeling defensive. It’s that easy.
  2. Identify the triggers that are making you lose your neutrality. Losing your neutrality might take you into ‘push’ mode and you risk making the session about you, when it should be about the group. Spend some time reflecting on these, draw (yes, draw!) each one on a separate sticky note. Now put them all in a box and lock them in your desk drawer...you can collect them later.
  3. Now you are ready to begin to understand the others who are going to be in the room. If you are feeling defensive, what might the others be feeling? Reflect on this using empirical evidence of what happened in the sprint and the interactions between the team. Put yourself in your team’s shoes and try to see how they see the sprint, what it means to them, and what they want for the next sprint.
  4. Now you can plan your retrospective… and you already know how to do this.

All of this is done before the session. A wise man once told me, “For every hour of the session, you have to spend 2 to 3 hours preparing. So if your session is 2-hours, you need to spend 4-hours preparing.”

To master the art and science of facilitation book yourself on our upcoming new program The Artful Facilitator, where we help you to develop the art, we add more tools to your toolbox, and we guide you to create the magic. The workshops are designed for deep learning, and the practice of your new skills; and the coaching in between will support you in implementing your new skills in the workplace.

The program starts on 15 August 2018 in Johannesburg and early bird pricing is now active. Click here for more information.

Image of gianamar

Regina Martins

I aim for continuous improvement in my personal and professional lives and my daily mantra is to be a better version of myself today than I was yesterday. I am a Certified Scrum Professional®, Certified Scrum Master®, and an avid Kanban practitioner.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Image of gianamar

Regina Martins

I aim for continuous improvement in my personal and professional lives and my daily mantra is to be a better version of myself today than I was yesterday. I am a Certified Scrum Professional®, Certified Scrum Master®, and an avid Kanban practitioner.

Latest Posts

Complexity, Chaos, and COVID-19

Applying Cynefin & Complexity Thinking to navigate the COVID-19 crisis: a panel webinar on April 2

Image of davesharrock

Dave Sharrock

Agile coach passionate about getting things done; helping teams exceed expectations, delivering organizational excellence, and all while having fun doing what they do.

Active Listening

Notes and video from the webinar run on March 20, 2020

Image of pascal

Pascal Papathemelis

Pascal has worked as an agile project manager/scrum master/facilitator of various developments in size and type for almost two decades. His focus is on people and practical approaches in order to deliver value. Currently Pascal is working at agile42 as an agile coach on a journey to help organisations and individuals grow, improve and become more efficient in a sustainable way.

A message from agile42 at time of COVID-19 epidemic

Our commitment to reducing to the minimum the risk of spreading of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Image of marion

Marion Eickmann

I am one of the founders and the executive director at agile42. I have supported strategic product development and leadership development for longer than 15 years. Since 2007 I have been realizing local and global agile projects with agile42's international team successfully. You like to talk about: ORGANIC agility, complexity, resilience, organizational culture & Agile? Just send an email :-)

Leadership Behaviours

Notes and video from the webinar run on March 13, 2020

Image of simsab

Simon Sablowski

Simon has spent several years working as a software developer, ScrumMaster and CTO. He is dedicated to shortening feedback loops to accelerate learning and strengthening team collaboration to maximise synergies. At agile42, Simon enjoys coaching and training teams and organisations that desire to attain higher productivity, continuous innovation and extraordinary performance.

Growing great upcoming ScrumMasters

We helped organize Scrum training for a new generation of students at the IT University in Copenhagen, Denmark

Image of giuseppe.desimone

Giuseppe De Simone

Giuseppe De Simone is a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST), Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC) and Certified Team Coach (CTC), passionate about helping individuals, teams and organizations become more productive by embracing Agile values, principles and practices. He is one of very few to be accredited from the Scrum Alliance as an educator of the Certified Agile Leadership and Path to CSP programs.