Most of the strategic workshops I’m commissioned to facilitate are for big personalities with diverging views. If everyone had a single viewpoint to begin with, there’d be no reason to workshop the topic. Participants come because they want to, have to, or wish to be heard. Often their minds are made up before we even open the creative debate.
My role as a facilitator – refined as years have passed – is to encourage ideas and views to pour forth within, nonetheless, a structured methodology that guarantees the highest standard of workable material at the end of said workshop. Some participants are happy to take instruction for the exercises and activities laid out before them – carefully construed and prepared. Others resist the order, and would prefer a more free-wheeling approach… Some people have so much to say, they forget they are not the only person in the room. Others would love to have a say, if their colleague/s would let them.
The job in this case is intervene with diplomacy, to cut the over-talkers off at the pass without anyone taking offence. A hard earned skill, noted with respect by other participants.
Whilst managing personalities, ideas and time, I’m most concerned with getting diverging views to converge with enough of a consensus to suit everyone, as well as the project aim. Typically the people in the room all have to subsequently go on to sing from the same song book, in harmony, to get whatever results are required. Without consensus of views converged, we may as well have forgone the workshop. Without a structured methodology to wrangle diverging views, there is no convergence possible.
Is my approach successful? A good measure is when a guest participant asks at the end if I’d be interested in helping with another completely different project where facilitation is key. Yes I would!
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© Amanda Yensa Manor 2016