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Focus on Facilitation Basics for Effective Technical Collaboration


Facilitation basics are essential for effective collaboration among technical professionals and senior management.  JD Solomon's newest book discusses the basics plus five techniques to move your facilitation from good to great.
Facilitation basics are essential for effective collaboration among technical professionals and senior management.

Facilitating technical problems and related assessment tools is difficult because the process is all about data, logic, and application. The effort concerns the specifics, and the room contains experts or specialists with decades of experience. Technically trained professionals frequently differ in their interpretations of the facts. The solution to effective collaboration is to treat the facilitation as a specific independent role and to do the basics well.


Facilitation Defined

The role of the facilitator is to guide the participants, not dictate or instruct. Furthermore, the facilitated result must be created, understood, and accepted by all. These two aspects make the facilitator role fundamentally different from that of a work division manager or subject matter expert.


Facilitation Basics

There are a few basic responsibilities that every facilitator should understand and apply:

  1. Prepare in advance—who, what, why, where, and how.

  2. Plan and distribute the agenda.

  3. Define objectives at the beginning of the event.

  4. Establish expectations with the executive sponsor and

  5. participants.

  6. Guide the group in presenting and sharing information.

  7. Provide closure and reiterate action items.


Don’t Get Distracted

Facilitators can often get cornered into a wider range of activities, such as notifying participants, reserving meeting space, bringing snacks, and providing session summaries.

There should be a recording secretary and a coordinator for any type of multisession facilitation, including a technically oriented event. Roles and responsibilities should be identified and assigned before the first session.


Technically Trained Professionals

Technical professionals are often asked to “lead” teams through the application of assessment tools, such as Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA), Root Cause Analysis (RCM), and Reliability Block Diagrams. The mistaken assumption is that you will be a good facilitator because you are the smartest person in the room or in charge of other people.


Technical Facilitation Solutions

The solution is to take the facilitation role seriously by treating it as a dedicated, craft-oriented role. These five actions are essential for successful facilitation and collaboration.

  • Understand the formal definition of facilitation and the role of a facilitator.

  • Develop soft skills and hard skills that are needed as a technical facilitator.

  • Execute the basic responsibilities of a facilitator.

  • Avoid wasting the limited time you have with participants.

  • Prepare for inevitable disruptions.


Facilitating with FINESSE

Facilitating technical problems and related assessment tools is difficult because the process is all about data, logic, and application. The solution to effective collaboration is to treat the facilitation as a specific, independent role and to do the basics well. Some FINESSE and CATERing also help!



Excerpts from this article are taken from Facilitating with FINESSE: A Guide to Successful Business Solutions.


 

Communicating with FINESSE is a not-for-profit community of technical professionals dedicated to being highly effective communicators and facilitators. Learn more about our publications, webinars, and workshops. Join the community for free.


 

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