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

Invitation and Call for Paper: Manage Agile 2019

Call for Paper for Manage Agile 2019 conference, to be held in Berlin in November 2019, is open until June 30

Image of abragad

Alessio Bragadini

Web community manager of agile42, trying to post relevant, informational, fun bits of content on the blog and social networks

Peter Hundermark One on One with Klaus Leopold

Watch Peter Hundermark on Klaus Leopold's Lean Business Agility channel

Image of abragad

Alessio Bragadini

Web community manager of agile42, trying to post relevant, informational, fun bits of content on the blog and social networks

Scrumtisch July 2019

The Berlin Scrum User Group meets on July 4th at agile42, Gruenberger Str. 54, 10245 Berlin.

Image of aballer

Alexandra Baller

agile42 Team Assistant

Leading a Logistics Provider Company Agile Transformation

agile42 Turkey helped implement an agile way of working in the IT department of an international Leading logistics provider company

Image of figen.yalcinkaya

Figen Yalçınkaya

Nowadays companies need to know agile principle for their sustainable development. As an agile trainer & coach; I support new agile teams, for developing agile mindset in order to achieve high performance. This includes challenging their working practices and embarking on continuous improvement, Which is main principle of agility.

ORGANIC agility at Fast Growth Icons Berlin 2019

Video of the Fast Growth Icons Berlin 2019 keynote by Andrea Tomasini

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 :-)