by Steve Roche

A case study

Jane is a senior manager who decides she will shortly need a workshop to bring together the key people to discuss and plan the launch of a new product. She contacts Chris, a trained facilitator within the company.

Chris arranges a meeting, with the main aim of agreeing the workshop objectives and the specific outcomes that would make it successful for Jane. They discuss who should be there and the probable agenda items.

Chris also explains the facilitation role and what will be expected of Jane as owner.

Over the next couple of weeks, Chris and Jane agree a final list of participants, outline agenda, timings and inputs. Chris contacts everyone to confirm their attendance and check they understand their role and will be suitably prepared. Chris also makes all practical arrangements for the venue, facilities and catering.

On the day, Chris sets the scene, gets everyone to introduce themselves, describes the process, covers logistics and timings, agrees objectives and outcomes, finalises the agenda, formulates the ground rules, and then begins the first item.

Throughout the event, Chris continually monitors progress, checks people’s states and intervenes whenever necessary to resolve problems, check relevance, explain the process and forward the action.

Key point

Note the proportion of time spent by the facilitator before the day and at the start of the event. The more effort that goes into preparation, the better the result.

To complete the event, Chris checks that all major agenda items have been addressed, that the objectives have been met, that all issues have been addressed, that actions have been assigned an owner and a date for completion, and that the event finishes on time. Anything not completed to plan (including timings) is renegotiated with the participants.

After the workshop, Chris reviews feedback. He may arrange to send out documentation and to follow up on actions. The final task is to check that Jane is happy with the result.