Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0247, March 14, 2006 ....

Dear friends,

We can scarcely go a day without hearing the importance of change and innovation in our organizations, both large and small. While we're called to distinguish ourselves from the background noise of the status quo, once we do, our innovation, in time becomes commonplace and we are compelled to innovate yet again. This is the force of evolution at work in the business world.

This week's article, "Facilitate a Climate of Innovation," draws on the work of Brian McDermott and Gerry Sexton in their book, "Leading Innovation," where they call on
today's leaders to improve the structures and processes of human interaction. This is exactly the promise of facilitation and facilitative leadership and a wonderful validation for this skill set that we explore each week. Read the tips and perspectives they offer to building a climate of innovation and realize that these fit squarely in the center of your skill set as a group facilitator.

Business Development Items...

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Need a Telephone Bridge Line? Two fellow coaches and I are looking for a fourth, and possibly a fifth person to share the yearly lease of our telephone bridge line which renews April 1st. If you or someone you know is interested in this, please contact me for details.

Have a great week!

Steve Davis


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The Point

Facilitate a Climate of Innovation
Know that facilitation paves the way for innovation

Self-Facilitation Skill

We hear a lot today about the importance of innovation in our enterprises. We're called to distinguish ourselves from the background noise of the status quo. Once the majority catch on to the current trend and begin to replicate it, change is required once again. This is the process of evolution at work in the world of business.

In the forward to the book, "Leading Innovation," by Brian McDermott and Gerry Sexton, Leonard Schlesinger says that "To meet the critical challenges of innovation, today's leaders must improve the structures and processes of human interaction. This is exactly the promise of facilitation and facilitative leadership and a wonderful validation for this skill set that we explore each week!

Here are some of the perspectives they recommend for leaders seeking to foster innovation in their organizations. As facilitators, we'll recognize these things that we do everyday in our groups.


What role does Facilitation play in Innovative Leadership?
The following tips from "Leading Innovation" validate the fact that facilitative practices foster a climate of innovation in organizations.

  • Rather than trying to change people, help them become more of who they already are. Faced with the pressures to control the course of an organization, leaders are often tempted to control their people's actions too much. McDermott and Sexton say that Gallup research shows that "...leaders who excel at getting great performance from the people they lead don't try to re-wire people or try to put in what was left out. Instead, they try to draw out the gifts and energy already there, just waiting to be tapped." This speaks to the "Appreciative Inquiry" approach of exploring and building on what works--a solution/strength focus versus a problem/weakness focus.

  • Constantly define and communicate the desired outcome and free people to figure out how to get there. This is one of the key roles we play as facilitators. We help our groups define their desired outcome, remind them when they're off course, and design environments to help them get the results they're after.

  • Cultivate and maintain relationships with your people. McDermott and Sexton say that the relationships leaders have with their people is a critical factor needed to build a workplace where people excel. With regard to attrition they say that "People don't leave companies--they leave managers." They go on to say that "In nearly every employee satisfaction survey we have ever seen, challenging and meaningful work are consistently critical factors in ensuring people feel positive about the work they do. Challenging and meaningful become clearer and stronger the more you involve people in decisions that affect their work." A clear vote for Participatory Decision-Making.

"There is no answer. There never was an answer.
There never will be an answer. That's the answer."
--Gertrude Stein--

  • Quit looking for THE answer. McDermott and Sexton include the quote above in the context that there just aren't any single simple answers to life's complex questions. As facilitators we know that there are many ways to view all situations, problems, and solutions which all depend upon the context and perspectives within which we explore them. This is why keeping our sites on our desired outcome is so important, and the very stuff that makes constant innovation possible. Holding the vision we seek to fulfill molds our actions, sometimes even our circumstances. And infinite answers we can derive from a single question provides the stuff of future innovations.

Facilitative practices pave the way for innovation. Knowing this, feel confident that your facilitative skill set is an asset to any organization seeking to become more innovative.


I look forward to your comments, insights or feedback about this article - just click reply and type them directly into this email.


Leading Innovation: Creating Workplaces Where People Excel So Organizations Thrive, by Brian McDermott, Gerry Sexton

From the first quote by Kahlil Gibran in Chapter 1, McDermott and Sexton show us how to immediately give ourselves permission to celebrate the innate skills and talent of those who work for us. Then, they show us how, by delivering concrete models of implementation and the research to back it up. Far from ignoring the societal trends of bullying and conforming particularly espoused by television shows such as Donald Trump's, "The Apprentice," or "The Weakest Link," the authors expose the long term danger of trying to quash the freedom for all of us to create, think, and deliver new and 'innovative' ideas in the workplace. They remind us that an organization is nothing without the people who work there; that its success depends on leaders who can galvanize employees by directing their efforts with strategy that venerates ingenuity and enterprise. --Dina (Connecticut)--

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In the Spotlight

Secrets to Designing Dynamic Workshops from Scratch

5-day teleclass for facilitators, trainers,
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with Steve Davis and Marion Franklin

April 17th-21st, 2006, 10:00 AM Pacific, 1:00 PM Eastern (NY Time), one hour each day.

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  • Have you been talking about developing and offering your own workshop but don't know where to start?

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  • Are you confused about all the pieces that have to be in place to design and deliver a great workshop?

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This class covers all the elements of workshop design using a simple, well-organized, and proven approach. This course, that you can take from the comfort of your own home or office, is for facilitators, trainers, coaches, who want to design relevant, engaging, experiential workshops for groups using a simple, proven formula that's easy to apply to any workshop topic.

Many thanks for a great experience. I received enough value before the first class to justify all of my costs – and it just kept getting better! I am now really looking forward to creating and delivering my upcoming workshop on retirement success -- can't honestly say that was true before the workshop. -- Doug Leland, Executive Coach & Retirement Specialist

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