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Meeting Design and Facilitation

A lot of organization development work happens in meetings. (See Eileen Broer’s article, What Happens Behind Closed Doors at Management Retreats.”) Meetings are expensive. Each of us has been to meetings that were ineffective. Hopefully, each of us has had the experience of being in a meeting that exceeded our expectations. Often the most effective meetings are due to professional facilitation. Working with a facilitator allows the meeting leader to focus on the content, while the facilitator focuses on the process. Human Dimension staff work with the meeting planner before, during, and after the meeting to:

  • Get clarity about the true objectives of the meeting.
  • Identify who to invite and how to invite them in order to ensure that the right people are at the meeting to (1) make it productive, and (2) ensure that the people who will implement the decisions will have enough energy, information and organizational support to be successful.
  • Identify pre-work.
  • Keep the group on track during the meeting.
  • Create a safe environment where neither people nor their ideas are attacked.
  • Draw people out. Help people to communicate what they are afraid to communicate, or what they don’t know how to say. Model risk taking.
  • Make decisions by whatever process will be most effective. Guide the group through appropriate problem-solving and decision-making processes.
  • Decide which issues to keep open for discussion and which issues to resolve outside the meeting.
  • Decide when it is time to stop discussion and start coming to conclusions — not too soon and not too late.
  • Clarify and stay focused on their objectives.
  • Suggest intervention strategies that help the group become aware of its issues.
  • Use disciplined, standardized approaches to conducting its meetings.
  • Resolve conflicts and find win-win solutions — in the meeting and outside the meeting, as appropriate.
  • Handle difficult issues, such as subgroups, hidden agendas, unfinished business between people, and people who will not compromise.
  • Synthesize ideas for the group.
  • Make meaning — pull the real issues out of five minutes of seemingly unconnected discussion.
  • Help the group identify behaviors and norms that will improve its effectiveness, and identify behaviors that are impeding its progress.
  • Make sure key points are recorded so they are not overlooked.
  • Make sure an “action register” is developed, distributed, and followed up, so things progress and come to closure.