Become familiar with what discourages creativity and speculation and what encourages it.
Listen to team members. Encourage, nurture and paint any picture they wish in their own words. Avoid making judgments, tuning out, listening to your own thoughts or not really understanding the speaker. Work on improving listening skills, especially the non-verbal ones.
Be vigilant, and deal with members who try to dominate with immediate and endless details. While they are brilliant, they can ruin a meeting so try to steer them away without alienation. Avoid the compulsive speaker’s eye during the discussion.
Keep the energy level high. Use your alertness, intensity and enthusiasm to improve the field. Your attitude is contagious. Your body language can stimulate the group to greater enthusiasm.
Use visuals, excursions and dynamic movement to avoid slothfulness. Changing the location renews the group especially when people are tired. It is often like an actual vacation from the problem and people return with fresh ideas.
Keep the pace fast, but not hurried.
Use humour, laughter breaks and laughter exercises.
Surprise the group. Have a plan to shake things up for post lunch sessions, or low energy times.
Make sure the problem owner is getting what he wants.
Let everyone learn the demanding role of the facilitator.
Keep an eye on the climate. Be gentle but firm. Be in charge of process.
The facilitator is like the conductor of an orchestra. Minute to minute he is responsible for getting the best out of team members in a meeting.
The facilitator is responsible for managing the group process so that the problem owner gets what they need. The facilitator keeps this in mind and protects group mates while ensuring discipline.
• Concerned with process only, never involved in the content
• Sets positive climate by:
i) accepting all ideas
ii) writes down headlines of ideas, and solutions
iii) gives everyone a chance to contribute
• Elicits the ideas hidden behind a question
• Manages the time and pace of the meeting
• Ensures the owner’s best current thinking is shared with the group
• Ensures that everybody takes notes of what is in their mind
Participants are the heart of any meeting. All the skills of the facilitator and the constructive responses of the client are designed to help each participant make his unique contribution. To emphasize the true relationships in a meeting the leader is viewed as one who serves the group. The group is, of course, servant to the problem. The problem owner is the problem’s representative and except in matters of behaviour his opinions are honoured. Differences with him are welcome too. They are aired, written down and the decision of how to use them is left to the client.
Dr. Rekha Shetty is Managing Director of Farstar Distribution Network, a unique consultancy company devoted exclusively to innovation and creativity under the brand name Mindspower.She is an author, an entrepreneur and an original thinker. Her long term Innovation Initiative, using 47 thinking tools helps in a steep increase in profits, reduction in costs, while improving customer satisfaction levels and employee participation levels. She is a consultant to ICICI Bank, Ashok Leyland Ltd., Hyundai Motors Ltd., TVS Group, TI Group, Durgapur Steel Plant, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. and other blue chip companies.
In her very first assignment in United India Insurance, she developed a nationally acclaimed advertising campaign. During the last seventeen years, she has specialized in the field of Creativity in Management and developed her own management brand, Mindspower. She was one of Asia’s first women District Governors for Rotary International and was awarded Rotary’s highest Award – Service above Self.
Her fourth book “Innovate! 90 Days to Transform your Business” is under print and will be released by Penguin during May 2010.