Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0207, June 7, 2005 | 7,000 Subscribers..

Dear friends,

We've all had our fill of meetings that just didn't seem to work. Sometimes, the problems we see in meetings have more to do with the "form" of the meeting, than the behaviors or skills of the leader or attendees.

A researcher named William Daniels researched the differences between "regular" meetings and "task force meetings." He found that the purposes, agendas, structures, membership, requirements, dynamics, processes, and memory systems are considerably different for each of these meeting structures. Hence each type of meeting requires distinctly separate group of operating principles and procedures. This week's article, "Distinguish "Task Forces" From Regular Meetings," discusses and contrasts these differences.

If you are involved or plan to be involved facilitating or managing virtual teams, there's still room in our upcoming 5-day teleclass starting next Monday, June 13th, called
Managing People You Rarely See. This teleclass will be of interest to facilitators and leaders working with virtual groups. Check out the details of this class at the bottom of this issue.

In this Issue:

Feature Article: Distinguish "Task Forces" From Regular Meetings

Book Resource:
The Facilitator's Fieldbook

5-Day Teleclass: Managing People You Rarely See

Have a great week!

Steve Davis


Starts June 13th
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Self-Guided Version
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Self-Guided Version
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Group Management Skill

Distinguish "Task Forces" From Regular Meetings
Know the differences between task forces and regular meetings to make the best use of your group's time and energy.

The Point

Do any of these statements sounds familiar? "These *##&*#$ staff meetings are a waste of time. We never get anything accomplished...I look forward to our regular staff meetings when I feel the need to catch up on my rest...Argggh I hate these meetings. They bore me to tears!"

These all too common sentiments about routine meetings certainly reflect the fact that something is awry. In my experience, poor or nonexistent facilitation is the cause for ineffective meetings. But at other times, meetings fail because their participants are using the wrong meeting form for the work they're seeking to accomplish.

A researcher named William Daniels did a significant amount of work distinguishing the differences between "regular" meetings and "task force meetings." He found that regular meetings (staff meetings, board meetings, management meetings, etc.) reflect the legitimate power structure and authority base of the organization. He found that the purposes, agendas, structures, membership, requirements, dynamics, processes, and memory systems of this type of meeting are considerably different than those of the task force meeting. Hence each type of meeting requires distinctly separate group of operating principles and procedures.


So how does knowing this valuable distinction between task force and regular meetings impact your facilitation? Here are some implications you might want to consider:

- Seek to separate "task group" oriented problem solving work from the regular meeting agenda. This can be done by handling regular meeting stuff first, then have the task group members stay to conduct their meeting, or schedule entirely separate meetings.

- Introduce the distinctions we speak about here to the members of the organization so that they understand the value in employing separate meetings and processes. This distinction offers the opportunity for cleaner, more efficient (read shorter!), regular meetings.

- Steer away from solving complex problems or planning in general meetings. Instead, split off a smaller group of "necessary" participants to handle this work.

- Limit any planning or problem-solving in regular meetings to "initial" brainstorming of ideas or solutions. Assign a task force to handle the details and to come up with recommendations for solutions.

- When creating special task forces, identify those regular meeting participants who should review task force recommendations. This will preclude certain members from potentially blocking resolutions brought to the regular meetings by the task force.

- Task groups should be made up only of those people who have the expertise required to accomplish the purposes of the group. Seek to keep these groups as lean as possible to optimize their creativity and efficiency. 

Daniels developed six different categories of approaches required by regular meetings and task force meetings that are summarized below.

  Task Forces Regular Meetings
Function Superior intelligence. Authorization; Affirmation of organizational values, structures, roles.
Agenda Problem analysis.
Decision analysis
Operations reviews.
Recommendations reviews.
Structure and Membership Necessary experts
5-9 members (or multiple groups of 5-9 members).
All appropriate members of designated group.
All or none at any given level of org.
No numerical limits.
Dynamics Equity; uninhibited access to every intelligence.
Uses the "inclusion activity" to establish equity.
Role differentiation.
Status affirmation.
Use of recognition activities to clarify authorities, roles.
Process 1. Build common data base
2. Interpret data.
3. Resolution.
1. Presentation.
2. Review.
3. Decision.
4. Commissioning.
Memory Flip chart. Publishing. Official records.


This week, think about how the distinction between task force and regular meeting might be employed by your organization.  I'd love to hear you're perspectives and experiences.
Please send us your comments.


The Facilitator's Fieldbook, by Thomas Justice & David W. Jamieson

What is facilitation? Ironically, it's a difficult word that means "to make easy." When applied to businesses and organizations, facilitation means helping people work together in groups and teams to achieve their goals.

Comprehensive in scope, yet extremely practical and to the point, The Fieldbook is perfect for both novice and experienced facilitators. Those new to the art of facilitation will find clear guidance on basic how-to information. More experienced facilitators will discover advanced methods for use in more challenging facilitation situations and simple models for facilitating both large and small groups.

In the Spotlight

Managing People You Rarely See

5-day Teleclass on the Management and Facilitation of Virtual/Distributed Teams

Unlock the potential of your virtual team as an effective distance manager

The Art of Managing an Outstanding Virtual Team. Managing people from a distance isn’t easy.

Do you need to get rapid results from people collaborating across multiple locations? This class will discuss managing remote relationships and frameworks for successfully managing projects across large distances. There are issues created by the geographic distance between team members. But those issues can be overcome, and in fact, the potential of a distance team to accomplish amazing feats far outweighs any logistical liabilities. Project development teams scattered around the country or around the globe can take advantage of the best scientific minds, technical skills and subject matter experts...if they can manage the remote relationships effectively. This course will build remote management competencies by providing a framework for success and applying it to real-life examples. The course contains consolidated information packed into a one-day format.

Benefits to Participating in the Training:

1. Build group cohesion, avoiding the "us and them" trap
2. Establish communication protocols that work for different organizational cultures
3. Obtain organizational support and resources by creating the connections to larger operational goals
4. Include group members' individual goals to create a shared purpose that increases commitment
5. Build a common language for setting goals and project milestones.
6. Clarify roles, responsibilities, and relationships for increased accountability.
7. Collaborate and learn from a community of your peers, all passionate about building and managing virtual teams.

How the 5-Day Format/Training works...
1. You dial into your class every day for 5 days (Mon-Fri) for a 60-minute focused training segment using a conferencing bridge.
2. You work through a learning guide during the 5 days, which accompanies the class as a resource.
3. You will have the opportunity to dialogue with the instructors and your classmates via an online list serve during the course to tap the wisdom of the community.
4. During the week, you may access the instructors via email for help.

Training Agenda...
Here's what you'll be learning and doing during this course...

A Virtual Team Orientation

  • Virtual team definitions
  • Learning the most from this teleclass
  • Basic Recommendations for distributed teams
  • Leadership and management shifts required for virtual work

Establishing shared purpose

  • Why is a shared purpose important?
  • How to build shared purpose effectively
  • Leverage the strength of your shared purpose

Building Trust Swiftly

  • Trust and fear in the virtual workplace
  • Techniques to build trust between co-workers
  • Anticipate and avoid “Trust-busters

Promoting Outstanding Communication

  • A closer look at listening
  • The role of conversations in workplace communication
  • Management communication considerations
  • Communication practicalities: time changes, methods, and options
  • Developing your team’s communication protocol

Designing Appropriate Work Processes

  • Tracking work and projects
  • Reporting status and progress
  • Resolving issues before they become a crisis
  • Receiving and processing information

Consciously Creating Group Culture

  • ·Stages of group development applied to virtual teams
  • Results, Recognition and Renewal
  • Evaluating success and learning from experience

Also included with your training...
In addition to the 5-Day training described above, you also receive:

1. Free Workbook, ($20 value) to reference and to anchor your learning and facilitate commitment to action.
2. Free access to the RealAudio version of the 5-Day training ($69 value).
3. Free Articles and Resources ($25 value):

  • Leading Distributed Teams
  • Connective Management
  • Mistakes Virtual Teams Make
  • Top Issues for Managers of Virtual Teams

The full cost of training/access is only $89 including the free items (worth $104) listed above. Everything you read about above is included. And, we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Non-profits can receive a 20% discount. Contact us for registration instructions.

Immediately upon completion of your registration, you will receive an email with instructions to access the course and free bonuses above. This course is limited to 20 individuals, first come, first served.

June 13 - 17, 2005, 10:00 AM PDT, 1:00 PM EDT (NY Time), 60 minutes each day.

Please click here to register.

One-Day Live Version

Interested in a one-day "live" version of this class offered to your group? Email us to discuss options.

Your instructors

Jessica Hartung, founder of Integrated Work Strategies (IWS) and principal consultant, has spent fifteen years focusing on the relationship between individuals and their work – how business goals can be more successfully achieved while people enjoy the process. She holds a Master of Science in Management from Regis University, a BA in Sociology from the University of Michigan, and is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst (CPBA). She is a member of the International Coaches Federation, which is recognized nationally for maintaining the highest standards in the coaching profession, as well as the Institute for Management Consultants, part of the global community that certifies management consultants in accordance with international standards. Jessica is included in the National Register's Who's Who in Executives and Professionals, 2004 Edition. Jessica has been active in the Boulder business community, providing volunteer services to assist high school students learning leadership skills in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce.

Steve Davis
, M.A., M.S., is an Facilitator's Coach, Infopreneur, and free-lance human, helping facilitators, organizational leaders, educators, trainers, coaches and consultants present themselves confidently, access their creativity, empower their under-performing groups, enhance their facilitation skills, and build their business online and offline. Steve spends most of his time building and running He also publishes a weekly ezine for facilitators called, the Master Facilitator Journal, continues to write ebooks, design teleclasses, and maintain a part-time coaching practice. His breadth of experience spans business, corporate management, engineering, teaching, spiritual psychology, and wellness, offering a pragmatic yet creative coaching foundation. To learn more about Steve, visit his website at

About the satisfaction guarantee
If, for any reason, you are not satisfied with this package, simply email us with a request to refund/credit your credit card in the full amount and we will do so immediately. It's our policy to do this and we honor this in every single case. This policy completely removes the buying risk for you and keeps our customer-satisfaction rates extremely high.


Please contact us with your comments.

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