Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Facilitate … around the bends in the road!

Change!  Flexibility!  Uncertainty!  These are often common experiences in facilitation processes.  I and a colleague are in the midst of an exciting and challenging process with a large organization.   Over the past three months, the process was taken many unexpected twists and turns.   I feel like I am driving a snazzy sports car on a straight road and then suddenly climbing into the mountains on hairpin curves. 

 The changes are legitimate:  new information coming to light, clearer articulation by the client of the desired results, changes in people to be consulted, etc.  During a recent conversation that my colleague and I held with the client, I realized that we had employed several “driving” strategies to help all of us navigate the bends in the road.

 Start over and drive a different route … As the consultants/facilitators, my colleague and I encouraged the client to go back to the start of the journey.  What had been clear in terms of desired outcomes and process was now possibly changed due to the new information.  We would likely end up at the same destination yet would possibly go a different route, make different stops, and visit different people along the way.

 Have an emergency road kit … We discussed whether the client needed consultation or facilitation services.  What needs to be in the road kit?  How much expert knowledge about the information was required?  Who could best provide it?  Was our role to learn the information or to facilitate discussions about it?  Did we need to know about  the internal combustion of the car?  Or was our role to ride shotgun (be the passenger and back seat driver) and suggest different ways to drive and ways to observe the scenery?

 Invite different passengers … We talked about the passengers for the road trip.  Who was most needed to give direction to the journey (guidance and leadership), to share stories along the way (content and information), and to take care of the gas, food, etc.  (logistical supporters)?

 Enjoy the ride … Our client, my colleague and I all agreed that we would wholeheartedly enjoy the changing road trip, particularly the bends in the road!  Often a detour or side trip proves to be the highlight of a journey.  We will move forward, secure in our ability to change the process to obtain the best results from the best people. 

 My facilitation blog question is:  What are your experiences in “bends in the roads” when consulting and facilitating?  How did you successfully navigate them?