Trust the Power of the Group in Facilitation

A funny thing happened in a recent session I facilitated.  As I often do when I work with groups, I reminded the participants to take care of others and to take care of themselves during our time together.  For those of us who experience hundreds of meetings, this step can also take the form of setting up ‘Rules of Engagement’, identifying ‘Expectations’ or ‘Reminders’.  As a meeting Facilitator this is an essential and powerful tool in preparing the discussion.

I was working under a very tight timeline and needed to get the group engaged and collaborating as quickly as possible.  Because of this challenge, I opted to express to this group of people, who had never worked together before, what I expected from them.  I was more directive than I usually like to be, but that is the route I chose that morning.  For example, I suggested that they needed to be open to receiving ideas that might be different from their own, I stressed the importance of giving all of those around the table an opportunity to express their views and asked them to trust the brilliance and power of the group at their table.

At the end of the session, while receiving participant views on their experience of generating solutions to problems and issues that they identified, one of the participants mentioned that she was blown away by the power of the group that she was working with.  She went on to explain that even though we were working under tight time constraints, and had a lot of outputs to identify as we worked through the iterative process, the members were able to leverage their collective knowledge, experience and the willingness to get to where they needed to go.  And they did it together, quickly with attention and focus!

This confirmed to me, once again, that as a Facilitator, what may be obvious to me can be amazing to others!  These comments confirmed to me that magic happens when a few simple ingredients are combined.

Here are a few ingredients I would like to share about bringing groups together for efficient, effective group discussions:

  • Identify a topic that is of interest and brings passion to those who are gathered to discuss it.  Make it compelling and make it true.
  • When the right people gather at the right time, a lot can be achieved. Choose carefully.
  • Create the conditions that will optimize success. Clarity of purpose and clarity of expected results will bring efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Trust the brilliance and the power of your participants and watch the magic unfold!

What other ingredients would you suggest are essential to create magic when you bring people together?

Have you experienced and truly leveraged the Power of the Group?

What are your Rules of Engagement?  If you don’t use ‘Rules of Engagement’ what do you call that step?