Updated: Jan 8
There are a few things that serve as guiding principles when I begin to think about meeting design and facilitation. These have been core to my consulting practice over the last ten years and aspects of them have become clearer as my philosophy on change has evolved.
Align on Purpose & Outcomes - Has the group reached clarity and alignment around the overall purpose and outcomes of the convening? What is hoped to be accomplished or shifted together? Spending time to slow down and have a few conversations to hone in on the specific intention not only focuses the effort but it also gets the group on the same page. Trust is a natural result of this process, which helps group cohesion and team effectiveness. The consultant or facilitator's role is to ensure that these purpose and outcomes are succinct and they guide the development of the session design flow to ensure that they are met.
Facilitate Group Insight Through Engagement - We all know the model of expert-based presentations feels different than the experience of learning paired with interaction and dialogue. Although there is tremendous value in imparting knowledge to others through speeches and presentations, this method lacks the potential of what emerges when we interact together in groups. Insight requires the "digestion" of information. By asking a few key reflection questions, like "what is your reaction to what you just heard?", we can better enable this digestion and new insight to occur. The consultant or facilitator's role is to ensure that there is an ongoing, open and honest conversation in the midst of information sharing, with time and space to process, reflect and ask questions.
Create a Session Design with an Eye towards Process - Session designs for impactful, transformative meetings or events are co- created with a specific focus on group process. Design allows us to deepen self-awareness, interpersonal relationships, and group synergy to do the work at hand more effectively and with more heart. A holistic process addresses (sometimes at the same time) the different layers of the system at hand: self, other, team/group, organization, network, and planet. Being able to weave in and out of these different layers through meaningful dialogue and emergent insight helps to generate a potent field of collective consciousness with infinite capabilities. The consultant or facilitator's role is to guide an impactful design honoring the different needs and levels of system.
Allow Space for Real Time Emergence and Synergistic Magic - Magic is possible if we allow space for it to take form. This is an epistemology grounded in studies including Organization Development, systems theory, complexity theory, and quantum physics. It functions at a deeper level of change, outside of time and space. It is not linear, but emergent and orchestrated through multiple inputs, including that of the experience of the participants. If this process is curated with intention, care, and expertise, the result is not only an effective work product (e.g. focused new strategy, goals and a supportive culture) but an energetic a shift in collective consciousness that releases shared hope and direction towards a preferred future. The consultant or facilitator's role is to nurture the overall process by allowing the system to see, feel and respond to its emergent needs. This is done in conjunction with multiple support teams, dependent upon the size of the meeting or event.
Whether you are designing an ongoing weekly team meeting or a large global transformative conference, these principles can be applied to strengthen your desired impact. Want to learn more? Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo taken from 2017 AODN Conference in Jakarta