I’ve previously written about facilitating sessions designed to elicit new ideas and fresh thinking. But what about the other end of the project development spectrum … when you have to facilitate a session focused on all the detail of an effort?
- Have a designated scribe capture the information on a laptop and project that image on a screen. The benefit is that recording happens much more quickly and you can easily cut and paste sections later. The shortcoming is that you lose the visual of seeing the entire list at once, something flipchart pages posted around the room would allow to occur. You need to decide if this will be problematic.
- Another approach is to make everyone in the group a scribe, giving each participant a stack of scratch paper or large Post-It’s. When individuals think of a detail that needs to be addressed, they record it themselves and pass it to someone who posts it in under the appropriate heading on a wall or flipchart. This helps organize the details thematically as you go, but for some people, recording their own thinking will disengage them from the conversation that is occurring. Obviously you could do something similar electronically with everyone logged into a Wiki or shared word processing file and recording items in that document. And project management software like Basecamp affords you even more options for preparing these planning checklists.
- Regardless of approach, as facilitator you need to maintain tight control on the conversation so that it does not derail into managing any detail or question that is raised. Simply remind people that the goal of this effort is to gather the details and questions, not to manage them. I generally find it helpful to stay physically close to the group and to use my body language to keep the energy high and the focus strong.
- Once the participants generate a comprehensive list of the details needing attention they should organize thematically into categories that make the most sense for future attention. This review and repositioning of the individual items often unearths additional details that needed to be added to the list.
- You can now work with the group to prioritize those items that need to be discussed and resolved first using whatever criteria the group thinks is most important (time sensitivity being one of the obvious filters).
Hope to see you there.