Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0297, April 10, 2007 ....
 


Dear friends,

I find it ironic sometimes that while I strongly believe in the importance of facilitation and very much enjoy doing it, there are certain elements of being a member of a group that I dislike. In fact, I'm anything but a joiner. I tend to move away from any long term involvement with groups. Why is this? Do any of you feel the same way? I feel that this is an important thing to explore with us being group leaders after all. And that's what we do in this week's article, "I Hate Meetings," where we explore some of the pitfalls of meetings and what to do about them. I look forward to your thoughts on this subject.

Have a great week!

Steve Davis
Publisher and Founder of FacilitatorU.com


 
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The Point


I hate groups
Know and beware of the pitfalls that can befall groups.

Group Process Skill


I find it ironic sometimes that while I strongly believe in the importance of facilitation and very much enjoy doing it, there are certain elements of being a member of a group that I dislike. In fact, I'm anything but a joiner. I tend to move away from any long term involvement with groups. Why is this? Do any of you feel the same way? I feel that this is an important thing to explore with us being group leaders after all.

Group Shortcomings

There have been many documented reasons of late to dislike groups such as:

  • None of us is as dumb as all of us. Groups tend to descend and cater to the lowest common denominator. In other words, in trying to be inclusive, group function falls to the level of the least capable participant. English author and statesman T.B. Macaulay, put it this way, “Groups of individuals are far more likely to err than individuals. Groups give reign to instincts which individuals acting alone are forced to keep in check.” Smart people just seem to leave part of their judgment at the door when they go into a meeting. (Kieffer, George David, The Strategy of Meetings, Simon and Shcuster, 1988.).

  • Group work is messy and complex. Because group process is more complex than your typical one-on-one conversation, they require a lot more time and effort to achieve a decision or a conclusion.

  • Groups are subject to group think. Most of us feel a need to be accepted by the groups we affiliate with. Over time, our need and desire to be accepted my overshadow our willingness to express ourselves authentically. Or, unpopular ideas, opinions, or attitudes in the eyes of the group culture may inadvertently marginalize or inhibit your participation.

  • Group outcomes often descend to the lowest common denominator. When subject to the collective attention of a group, we're more likely to fixate on data, ideas, options in the interest of consensus than engage in deeper more expansive exploration that we might perform on individually. See this article citing these findings in several studies.

  • Groups exert cultural influences. Every group has a culture of some kind. By culture, I mean there are certain norms, stories, and senses about what's acceptable, what isn't, what's right and what's wrong, etc. As we evolve as human beings in cultures, we will offer our greatest gifts to our communities by cultivating the ability to transcend and include any culture of which we are part. From this perspective, we will be more objective in what we bring to each group.


Application



Here are some tips for navigating the world of groups, many from which you may want to make a swift exit!

Know your strengths and use them. Coming from this perspective, you will gain and the group will benefit by your participation in it. Remember the movie, "Ocean's 11?" iN In this film, 11 brilliant thieves, all successful in their own right, came together to pull off the heist of the century, then went back to their own lives. I'm not suggesting you join a group for this purpose, but the principle is the same. Joining a group only to take from it, or only to give to it, is a non-sustainable proposition.

You're willing to leave the group at any time when mutual benefit ceases to be realized. When your purpose with a group is complete, feel free to move on. If you need any group to feel good about yourself, support groups perhaps excluded, the group will be better off if you get your needs met elsewhere.

Assure your groups are willing to hear and if appropriate, act, on contrarion opinions and ideas.
Any group that is stuck in dogmatic and rigid thinking is by definition a stagnant entity that can't well respond to the dynamics of life, much less group process. Unless you're comfortable in a tight container such as this, you'll do well to move on.

Group norms are fluid versus "institutionalized" making it possible to incorporate and acknowledge necessary changes.
These are the types of groups I most avoid! I suppose they're helpful in some instances, but for one fueled by creativity and innovation, I tend to feel stifled by groups set on monitoring, setting, and following policy.


Action
 

What do you hate about groups? What do you do about it? Just reply to this email and tell me what you've learned or need to learn.

Resource


Always Postpone Meetings With Time-Wasting Morons,
by Scott Adams

This is the first compilation of Dilbert comics, featuring Dilbert comic strips from the late 80's. Most of the humor is at home -- away from the office and features Dilbert with Dogbert. So, despite its title, there is very little office satire. At 112 pages with typically 3 comic strips per page, there are plenty of laughs. The comics featuring Phil the Ruler of Heck are hilarious. William McMichael (Audubon, NJ, USA)

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In the Spotlight

 

The Improvisational Facilitator

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A week after the course I have found myself talking about and actually using the techniques taught! The experiential based learning really worked for me and I learnt whilst having fun – always a good way to retain new learnings. The course has provided me with a toolkit of great techniques to improve my own facilitation, as well as some enjoyable exercises to use with delegates. I have nothing but praise for both Sue and Steve, who walked their talk with their own facilitation skills – they simply flowed through the course with grace and intelligence. The content, the materials and the facilitators is 5 star stuff and I highly recommend it to any facilitator.
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Skills and attitudes for the new facilitator or group member who wants to get their group into serious motion.

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The week of April 16th, 10-11am Pacific time daily.

25 Actions You Can Take to Empower Any Group

This class will meet for five consecutive weekdays April 16-20, 2007 to cover 25+ facilitative actions you can take to empower and move groups forward. This course is for beginning facilitators or group members that simply want to know more about facilitation so that they can make the groups they are a part of more effective. By attending this class, you will:

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