August 30, 2012

Facilitation Friday #34: A Motion for Emotion


“What we need now to advance this idea is emotion.” So said the chairman of the meeting I was attending. But just before I was ready to spring from my chair and offer an enthusiastic “Let’s do it!” the woman next to me politely called out, “So move.” Apparently what the chairman had actually said was, “What we need now to advance this idea is a motion.”

After a bit of reflection, however, I decided what I first thought had been said was actually what we needed to advance the idea. Here we were, a committee of people entrusted to make a significant decision, and we were almost completely lacking in energy and conviction for the idea we had just approved. The project we had voted on was going to require great effort, yet we seemed passionless about it.

That’s one of the challenges in organizations when we focus too much on reaching decisions by consensus. While often a sound standard for decision making, consensus can sometimes produce decisions that offend no one, but excite very few. In our desire to have everyone support a decision, we can reach a conclusion for which we lack the conviction needed for actual implementation. 

Conflict about ideas (as opposed to between personalities) and passionate deliberation about them is a sign of a mature and healthy organization and normal in collaborative efforts.

When making major decisions we might want to measure the level of commitment and passion held by the individuals charged with implementing the idea … say by asking them to indicate their reaction on a scale of 1-10 (1 low, 10 high). If the range of responses does not seem sufficient, we need to (1) discuss what it would take for them to have the requisite passion and commitment, or (2) shelve the idea in pursuit of one that will attract more interest and energy.

Making decisions just to have decisions made doesn’t serve individuals or organizations well if people aren't committed to their implementation or their potential.

Making decisions that have the conviction and passion required to truly advance programs and services should more often be our standard of success.

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Every Friday in 2012, I post information and insights about effective facilitation, sharing some of the content and thinking I provide in the one-day and half-day facilitation workshops that groups often engage me to present.  You can find previous posts by searching for the tag: facilitationfriday.

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