Facilitation and urgency

In decision making/strategic discussion meetings, the difference between good facilitation and great facilitation comes down to one idea – urgency. A sense of urgency embodied by the facilitator makes meetings feel vibrant and useful.

While some of this is an art, there are 4 things we can do to increase urgency when we facilitate:

(1) Replace decks with docs + pre-read time: 2 reasons – higher information density and a removal of the dependence on the pace of the presenter.

(2) Replace “round-the-room” discussions for groups >7-8: If you want to hear from everyone, give folks time to type out their notes on a shared spreadsheet and then read each other’s notes. It is at least 3x more efficient and a lot more effective.

(3) Structure brainstorms: Break each brainstorm down to: (a) solo idea generation + input into spreadsheet, (b) Read each others ideas and vote (or discuss in small groups), (c) discussion of salient points in the larger group. The more the structure, the more the value + energy.

(4) Actively stop discussions that involve <50% of the group: Everyone will appreciate it. If it helps, consider keep a rough mental note of the cost of the meeting – it’ll definitely remove any reluctance to stop these discussions. :-)

Urgency is as much about these tactics as it is about a mindset – a mindset that adds a ton of leverage across any team/organization. And, if we’re somehow able to combine urgency with light heartedness/humor, we end up having a multiplier effect on the productivity of those around us.