Facilitators are the ‘catalysts’ that can move people, teams and thus organisations towards collaboration and synergy.

The facilitation processes.
When I got involved in Facilitation, way back in 2007-08, I discovered that Facilitation processes could be well integrated  in Leadership and Team Building programmes. I began with the ‘Divergence’ and ‘Convergence’  process in 4 difference settings
in a few ‘Leadership and Team Building’ workshops.

I was already using flip charts in my Outdoor trainings. But having experienced some finer points of use of flip charts in IAF I experimented did some magic in adding value to my training programmes.

This was an experiment which led to such impactful results that it is now a norm I follow regularly.

We had a corporate group from an automobile company. The focus group was a team from a plant that manufactures propeller shafts. The group size was 17. After an initial context setting and deriving the ‘desired outcome’ I used a flip chart to capture what the participants thought were important characteristics of a ‘TEAM”. Then, I gave everyone two coloured pieces of paper and said, “Focus your thoughts on what ‘you’ think are the two most important characteristics of a team that you need to build or strengthen or reinforce in ‘your’ team. Write one idea on one paper.” Now each team had to brainstorm and arrive at the 4 most important characteristics of teams bring in more harmony in the team that could lead to better performance. The selected points were put up on the ‘Sticky Wall’. The Team leaders came up and initiated a discussion and this led the group to decide 4 most important team characteristics they needed to focus on, thereby converging the 12 ideas into 4.

On the Flip Chart we captured what the participants thought were the important characteristics of a good Team.
The teams selected important ones and placed them on the sticky wall (left)To summarise,

  • the team came out with what they thought a good team must be. I, as a facilitator, added two points they missed out, in the
    end. That was also done in a suggestive mode and when they all nodded I added them on the flip-chart.
  • The points on the flip-chart (their own creation, or can I say their recipe) were to be taken as a guideline. They could consider
    additional ones in their group discussions.
  • Everyone had two chits to write on – so equal opportunity
  • Everyone ‘had’ to write two points – so 100% participation.
  • The convergence happened because everyone had to convince or be convinced. In many cases they voluntary withdrew their point voluntarily, agreeing that others’ points carried more weight.
  • The 4 most important characteristics of a team were arrived at by ‘them’ with no ‘gyan’ by the facilitator. That led to ‘ownership’.

Lessons for future

These are some lessons we learnt in the first experiment which will be applied in future.

  1. In Jigsaw, while giving instructions, it is good to clarify that each person will be required to speak up and explain a chart which he would have heard from another person, about. This will caution them to be more attentive.
  2. Observer is a good idea. He can patch up for something that was left out. In fact there should be a static observer (from the original group) who should stay static.
  3. Ask for questions in the end. For example, in this case, ask whether anyone thinks that a suggestion made can be improved upon / modified.
  4. Also encourage participants to add anything after having gone through all the charts.
  5. The trainers challenge may be ‘time’. In any case even if some voids remain, this process covers
    so much more ground that that small loss is acceptable.