This is NOT Cool – Blog 86

I got up on Saturday and went to co-facilitate the session as agreed during the week.  When I got to the session the guy said, “We conducted that session after dinner last night.” I was stunned since the venue was one hour and 30 minutes from my house, in a rural area.

I responded “This is not cool.  It is Ok to have the session according to the client’s needs but you could have sent an email or called to tell me that I was no longer needed.”

He then suggested, “You could have called,” and went on to blubber about the arrangements that we made and that both internet and mobile access were limited at the venue.

I noticed that as he spoke he did not look up from his computer, he made no eye contact with me and he never apologised.  Instead, he offered that I stay for the morning session since he was discussing the 12 principles of innovation to which I said, “No thank you.  I have no reason to stay.”

His last comment in our less than five minute exchange was that I should call his office on Monday so that we could arrange a meeting later that day.  I responded that I won’t be calling him, since I had never done so before.

Then I left the room.

As I drove home, I decided that I would invoice him for the time spent discussing the workshop as well as my driving time, to communicate the value of my wasted time.  Since I truly believed that he would not pay the invoice, this would be an indisputable unresolved matter that would  naturally end the relationship.

Later in the evening as I sat on my friends’ verandah I was reminiscing about how my connections work.  The people in my life show up for me, we make plans and more or less stick to them.  We are considerate and courteous to each other, when we mess up we apologize and move on.

This morning when I got up I had a good laugh at myself.  “Can you imagine getting dressed for dinner and when you get to the restaurant your date is burping and saying that he had the meal without you.  Do you then send an invoice for the time you spent traveling to the restaurant or the time spent deciding where to eat? Will you date that person again if they pay the invoice?”

As I laughed at the ludicrousness of my previous decision I felt more  aligned with how I feel when with my friends and I knew exactly what I should do.

  • I am not going to invoice him for my time.
  • I am declining from giving attributes to his behaviour.
  • I am not responsible for making excuses or figuring out how or why it happened
  • I do not want to work with someone who will not call to say the game has changed.
  • I do not want to work with someone who can’t apologise for an oversight.
  • I am not going to work with someone who can’t look me in the eye.
  • I am not going to work with someone who ignores my feelings.

The most important decision that I have made is that I am still going to reach out to new persons and build new connections. I also accept that not all of these will be a good fit for me.

What do you accept in your professional life that differs with your personal life?  What would it be like if you aligned the two?

Redefining Service – Blog 85

I am reflecting on the two days that I spent facilitating strategic sessions. I notice how my practice is changing and how differently I show up in front of a group.
My first thought is that I did not stick to the script. Before I do a facilitation, I carefully plan an agenda, with all the games, icebreakers and activities to make the points, to bring the team to realization and at times to wake them up. This time I did not use the games that I planned, because the team was not ready for them. Instead of following my carefully planned agenda I let the team lead and followed the twists and turns that they presented during the workshop.
I also did not achieve the objective. I am results oriented and before the session, I work with the team lead to agree desired outcomes. My belief was that at the end of the strategic session, the team should leave with strategies or projects that they are going to embark on over the next two or three years. These are the things that will address an identified issue, resolve a problem, grow the business or take the business to a whole other level. Not so this time. At the end of the session, there were no plans or projects. Yet, the team lead was satisfied. His team had dealt with issues that previously were unnamable. Together they had defined and understood a nebulous issue that was hampering productivity and together were able to name it, and make it tangible and real.
The third thing I noticed is that I pushed back and challenged harder than before. I am always polite with clients saying,”Thank you,” for contributions. Today I called them on contradictory statements, pushed for the truth and even questioned whether a team member was being the devil’s advocate or misaligned with the team’s overall objectives
As I ponder on what made the difference I realized that I relinquished control of the process to participants and became a follower in the process. For once, the participants guided the process.
I also carefully listened to the participants. When they were quiet I did not force a game on them, when they were silent I listened to their expressions and when they were pensive I left them to think.
I can only conclude that I have become a greater servant of the team. I think that while my intention was always to be of service to the team, I always pushed my agenda. I gave myself ticks in the box for the games and activities that were done and praised myself for wittingly thinking of a game that matched the situation. Today as I truly matched the mood and pace of the team, and stayed with them where they were at and did not shift their focus to where I wanted them to be or where I thought they should be I was truly in service to the team. What a different session.

Do you serve from a position of what they need or what you think they need? What would it be like if you changed perceptive?

5 outta 5 = 100%

Now that’s a score that I like!  What I appreciate is that Connie got the point of the book! It’s not only for the initiated.  Anyone who works with Teams – as a trainer, or facilitator or a coach – will find value in Change or Die – The Business Process Improvement.  Enough of what I think.  This is what she says:

I have to admit I thought this book was for strategists — the intellectual process types. However, while reading the Vision/Goal section, I thought this is a 21st Century reference manual for Executive Coaches. There are excellent questions for coaches to ask their business clients throughout this book. As a trainer, there are insightful activities and workshop tools that I can integrate into my training, i.e. “making excuses activity.” I am looking forward to using this book in my executive coaching practice and in designing my workshops, classes and webinars. – Connie Kadansky Pheonix

It’s not about me

When I stand in front of the room, in my facilitator shoes, I have no friends, I am only vested in the process. All I want from the workshop is that the participants achieve their desired outcome. It really is not about me. If the group says “Hey, your attitude does not work for me,” then I have to stop, take check, make changes and move on.

I think that people are so unaccustomed to the person in front the room not having an ego that they mistake my demeanor as what and who I am. I am only the process keeper, my job is to keep the participants focused and the process moving. If the session is good and the outcomes achieved, it is not a compliment to me, it is a compliment to the group and how well the group worked together. It is a hard sell, most persons do not believe me – it’s a strange outlook. My behavior is consistent around facilitation, eventually the non-believers will understand – it’s just the way that I am when guarding the process. It’s really not about me

Script writer facilitator needed

I am here at home struggling with the script for my website. I did a first draft of the script and received great feedback from Lorijo and Connie. Yet still I struggle! It’s pretty annoying, I know what I want to say and how important it is to say it well but all the words seem trite and do not POP. I want the website to be awesome. I want it to reflect my passion for Business Process Improvement and how I use faclitation to service individuals, teams and organizations. Yes, I also want it to intrigue people to use my skills to propel themselves and their businesses towards their Vision.
After many scratches on the paper I decided that
1) I do not have to do this on my own – there are loads of people who make a living doing this
2) I need to find someone who understands what I am saying to work with me
3) I want someone who will write what I what to say in a way that captures my voice and conveys what I want to say
And now I am laughing. It sounds like I need the services of a facilitator to work collaboratively with me on this one. Exactly the type of service that I want to offer. I just had an AHA moment. So if you kmow any facilitators who can assist me generate an awesome script that sounds like me – send them my way!


Remember that great party you went to? Yeah, the one where the music was pumping and everyone was having fun, the one that you could stop talking about for days after. What really made that party fun? The fact that everyone was having fun.
A great meeting is like a great party, where everyone participates. Everyone contributes to the discussion and follows the set rules and willingly works towards achieving the deliverable. (Perhaps not everyone is having fun.)
There will be positive and negative contributions, as all voices and opinions are shared. Attendees speak up and say what they think. They want to be heard. At the end of it, everyone leaves thinking that the meeting was a good one. I voiced my opinion. I was listened to and I contributed to the deliverable.
What was the last great meeting that you went to? Tell me…What made it a great meeting?

7 Habits of Effective Meetings

Develop these Habits on a meeting by meeting basis and I promise you will see remarkable improvements in the effectiveness and efficiency of your meetings. ( If you don’t tell me what went wrong and I will gladly assist).

HABIT 1: Set a clearly, defined DELIVERABLE that manages team’s expectations and immediately focuses participants’ thoughts. Share this before the meeting; any disputes about its relevance can be settled prior to the meeting.

HABIT 2: Develop and distribute the AGENDA before the meeting so that members know what they are going to do at the meeting and can anticipate the next steps. The agenda is the meeting’s road map.

HABIT 3: RULES set the tone and define acceptable behaviour at the meeting. Participants should assist in rule setting for early buy in and to encourage participation.

HABIT 4: Limit the number of ATTENDEES to a manageable number by inviting only persons who will make a real contribution.

HABIT 5: PARTICIPATION will occur when each attendee feels comfortable and safe in the meeting. When the attendee is satisfied that his/her opinion is considered and understands why and how the decision was made commitment to the outcome is guaranteed.

HABIT 6: The WRAP UP serves as a last call for any dissenting opinions. Reiterate all decisions and develop next steps or action plans.

HABIT 7: NEUTRAL LEADERSHIP is critical to the success of any meeting. The facilitator will lead the meeting, keep people in check, remind stragglers of the meeting’s deliverable, determine the techniques that will solve problems and document the decision or meeting outcome.

What do you drive?

Now that we know what a facilitator does, we need to know when to use one.  Any situation where more than one person needs to come to an agreement possibly needs a facilitator.  The importance of the decision or the level of contention between the parties will heighten the need for a facilitator.  While I can give many business examples, I will share with you a couple’s decision.                                                                                       Husband has a steady income job, wife is self employed. Wife’s business is doing extremely well and wants to buy a new car.  She wants a BMW.  Husband disagrees; he thinks that a Tucson is suitable. Back and forth with the pros and cons until I stepped in.  I asked “What are the criteria for the car? The absolute must haves.”  After they identified safety, price, reasonable maintenance, gas consumption, the wife piped up – “the bling factor”.  The husband exploded “This is your first car.  You want a BMW because the women in your support group all drive expensive cars.”  My job at that time is to have the parties decide if first car or to be like all other business women is a criterion for decision making.  (Also to work on cooling tempers before we can move forward to a decision.)  We ranked the criteria from most to least important – reasonable maintenance (most), safety (least, since they agreed that more or less all the cars were safe).  The cars were reviewed using the criteria as the filter. The Tuscon – no bling factor – and the BMW – high maintenance –  were thrown out, and new options were brought into the mix.  The couple did not have the information for the new options – since their focus was on the Tuscon and BMW.  They now needed to do some home work on the market option.  Now wife drives a cute Jeep that expresses her success and husband thinks it’s a good first car.

End note – Facilitation opens groups up to completely new ways of thinking that gives the group much more choices.  More choices translates to better decision, fit for purpose, that every one can live with.

What is a facilitator

It’s a question that always comes up ” Max, what exactly does a facilitator do?”  I say “Think of me as a crossing guard. The person dressed in a bright colored life jacket holding a stop and go sign in his / her hand. ” ( I am not a school crossing guard, I rarely work with kids)My clients are at point A and want to get to point B.  The way across is busy, filled with traffic. Each time they try to cross,  some group members dart to B, others lose temper and decide not to cross, and some lose interest in crossing.  The result, the group does not receive the benefit of getting to B.

A crossing guard uses her signs, stops the traffic, tells the group when it’s safe to cross and ensures that all of the group reaches point B, more or less at the same time.  Some group members may stop in the middle of the road to tie shoelaces or are afraid to cross.  The guard encourages these persons to stay with the group, helps the group wait on stragglers, and eliminates distractions so that the group can move forward together.

Simply stated: A facilitator gets a group from Point A to Point B, uses methods and techniques to remove obstacles and distractions that prevent groups from having effective outcomes.