illuminating pathways to change

Monthly Archives: February 2015

Have you ever been seduced by a bacon sandwich?

pigOh Dear. This sounds like so many “off-sites” I hear about or have attended and sometimes I’ve been asked to facilitate / engage in this sort of event. I suspect I have been deceived by piggies in my time in an attempt to bring home the bacon. Have you ever been seduced by a bacon sandwich?

Comments welcome.

10 steps for getting more people to like your pig…

  1. Invite all the people in charge of your pig to an off-site meeting.
  2. Start by stating what most people in the room already know: potential customers are not as enamored with your pig as they used to be. Then passionately demand that…

After the Groan Zone

A recent workshop run by me (Rhonda) – final stretch on Day 3 of a project conducted over a month. It was a joy to see how it all fell into place so quickly at the end. Here the group is working in pairs generating specific tasks for a timeline – converting the strategy they had been developing into a plan. It took a lot of argy-bargy to get to this point. I think what helped was reasonably healthy work relationships AND inserting team development with the Klein Group Instrument as part of my overall intervention. So there was very intentional focus on both task and relationship and encouraging of initiative from those in the group who scored lower on this scale. The group has high Positive Group Affiliation that stood them in good stead when in “The Groan Zone“. I used an interesting range of process methods and fortunately had different work stations in the room which helped with the shift of thinking for different phases.?Combining strategy development and team development in the one intervention is an excellent way to get traction for delivering on strategy and plans.

How to Get More Movement into Your Force Field Analysis

Participants on Illuma’s Foundations of Facilitation training workshop working up their dynamic version of a Force Field Analysis is a practise session (2014)

Participants on Illuma’s Foundations of Facilitation training workshop working up their dynamic version of a Force Field Analysis is a practise session (2014)

You’ve probably experienced a Force Field Analysis activity in a meeting. Someone draws a line down the whiteboard or flipchart and scribes as the group thinks through the issue. People sit and call out ideas while the scribe frantically tries to capture everything. After a little while the whiteboard looks like a dog’s breakfast – there’s no room for any more information, there are lines all over the place and people can’t make sense of it. As the diagram becomes messier participants start to disengage and before long even the scribe loses the plot … I’m actually describing an earlier version of myself here :-/

Force field analysis is a key process tool for many disciplines including project management, organisational development and change consulting. For years I struggled with a way to facilitate a group through the process so that it was engaging and people could visualise and understand the changing dynamic as we worked through the framework.

This is the model I hand out or show on a slide as a means of explanation.

This is the model I hand out or show on a slide as a means of explanation.

Over the years I’ve developed my own way of working with this essential tool for change. Often I start with a physical demonstration of how a Force Field Analysis is essentially about movement. Group members become the driving and restraining forces trying to budge the person representing the current state. This can be a bit of fun before we get down to the real work. Firstly we define the present /status quo (represented by the centre line), then define the desired state or success – what we want in the future. The next step is to identify restraining forces and driving forces and sometimes I include a ranking activity. Then we develop actions to remove or reduce the restraining forces, increase the driving forces or convert a restrainer into a driver (thus getting maximum acceleration for minimum effort).

But it was still me doing the scribing – and I found it difficult to maintain an overall sense when working up close and personal with the whiteboard or flipchart. As the facilitator I needed to be able to maintain the bigger picture.

When training facilitators I always include a Force Field Analysis as a process for a practise session. And when training facilitators I always have one or two sticky walls ready for a range of activities.
One day I started to use a sticky wall that allowed the group members themselves to create, move, rank, delete etc. They became much more engaged, the Force Field Analysis process became much more dynamic and I could stand back and better facilitate the process rather than being locked into scribe role.

Group members’ work during strategy development event I facilitated January 2015 (part way through the process)

Group members’ work during strategy development event I facilitated January 2015 (part way through the process)

I started to notice how much more creative and engaged people were. One day in one of my facilitator workshops a participant decided to make different sized arrows to represent different “strengths” of a force. The colour of the paper took on a new meaning. Scheduled action plan started to be built on an adjacent sticky wall. The act of removing a restraining force (aka written on A5 paper) was not just visual but physical and in some way this was more symbolic and satisfying.

So why not try getting a bit more real action next time you facilitate a group using Force Field Analysis. Contact us for more information about Illuma Consulting’s Foundations of Facilitation Training Workshops. Click here for flyer and dates of next programs.

Foundations of Facilitation

  • Canberra 11 & 12 May 2015
  • Melbourne 19 & 20 October 2015

Note: Kurt Lewin developed the principle of Force Field Analysis in the early half of the 20th Century. There’s a wealth of information on the net including scholarly articles on Lewin’s work and a myriad of images for different ways people use the model.

When the wisdom isn’t in the room

in favourOrganisations can invest tremendous amounts of money, energy and time trying to build “cohesive” teams. Team development is one of our core offerings at Illuma. But when it comes to teams at Illuma we don’t necessarily equate cohesive with effective. When sticking together means not challenging each other’s thinking cohesiveness is dysfunctional. We look to strengthen the team’s capacity to challenge each other’s thinking and surface underlying conflict and differences.

A couple of weeks ago when running facilitation training Rhonda mentioned that one of the key roles for a facilitator is to “protect” the outliers and work with processes that encourage diversity of thinking.

Who has experienced what is shown in this cartoon?

You may often hear facilitators say “the wisdom is in the room” but that is not necessarily the case as this article suggests* I’d like to think that a good facilitator works to mitigate the amplifying errors effect mentioned in the article.

Professional facilitators have a range of processes to encourage diverse thinking and challenging of perspectives. A facilitator should be working to develop group relationships that can withstand conflict and robust dialogue and should help the group hold the discomfort of ambiguity rather than leap to solutions.

The article resonates with me as a facilitator and I’m sure I’ve fallen prey to just about all the traps in the many years I have facilitated meetings.

Your comments are welcome – the link to the article is also on our Facebook Page where you can leave a comment or a question. You may need to scroll down to 10 February 2015. And of course you need to “like” the page to leave a comment … a not so subtle way to drive you to Illuma’s Social Media  

* Illuma subscribes to Harvard Business Review. You may or may not be able to access this article. But well worth the $8.95 investment to purchase the article.

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