Minahan Group
Organization Strategy & Design


Interesting and pertinent ideas and articles by the group and others.

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Facilitator's Role

A client wrote and asked:

How would you see your involvement in the new team start up?

To which I replied:

A lot of it is up to you. Things that I would normally do in advance of an event like this include:

  • interview the members of the new team in advance, getting to know each other and typically something about hopes and fears;

  • work with you to develop an outcomes statement and be clear about your expectations for the event;

  • work with a "design team," probably 2-3 people from the team, to develop a draft agenda;

  • do some ghost writing for you about the event, both to send around in advance and to use at the event;

  • work with your admin person on the venue, equipment, supplies, and logistics;

At the event, I typically

  • convene the event, referring to you for vision and purpose;

  • help to create a safe environment for people to learn and take risks;

  • contribute technical expertise to design of events and activities;

  • manage the time boundaries and equalize the air time of participants;

  • test for clarity of understanding during communications;

  • assure that activities and discussions are focussed and achieve the intended results;

  • model empathic listening and responding;

  • confront violations of agreed norms;

  • represent the "voice" of the unspoken perspectives, if needed;

  • assure that the overall event achieves the intended outcomes.

Some of these could be done by you or someone else on the team, but being responsible for them, and trying to participate in the event, and observe the participants and their interactions with you and each other becomes more than is humanly possible. That's why the smartest executives I know take themselves out of the organizing role, and let themselves off the hook for managing the agenda and the process, and just observe and be a participant.

I hope that helps. I'd be interested in your reactions.