Hello MFJ Readers. This issue, includes an article written by
Susan Parks entitled,
Power of Introductions," that
explores how introductions
can help develop relationships and trust, and provide
information to help a group form and norm.
In our resources section, we introduce a new book authored by
MFJ reader, Gayle Hudgens etitled, "Collaborative
Spunk: The Feisty Guide for Reviving People and Our Planet,"
which looks at empowering
ordinary people to become "leaderful"
and to co-create joyful, just, and viable communities wherever they
Also please check out our new "Magic
Meeting Mug." This is a great little gift
and tool to running more effective meetings by empowering those
that attend them.
If you or your colleagues are interested in submitting an
article for consideration, please email
your ideas. I'd love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading!
Power of Introductions
be powerful information-gathering and trust-building tools.
As all facilitators know, one of
the most critical factors to successful sessions is open, candid
discussion by all participants. Yet this type of discussion is
often difficult to achieve. There are several barriers:
participants may not work together or know each other, there may
not be a level of trust or knowledge of individual expertise, or
participants may have a one-dimensional view of each other.
Effective facilitators must break
these barriers so that the objectives of the session can be met.
To do this, all three components of group dynamics - tasks,
relationships, and processes - must be addressed. Since
facilitators and participants are most familiar and comfortable
with tasks, it is where we spend most of our time and effort.
Yet, most team theorists agree that between 5% and 10% of the
entire time that a group is together should be spent on
"team formation" activities - those related to group
process and relationship building. If this is done, then the
time spent on tasks - brainstorming, consensus building,
decision making, analyzing - will be more effective.
An easy way for facilitators to
pay more attention to group processes and relationships is to
use the effective but often overlooked tool of the introduction.
Introductions serve many purposes. At a minimum, they provide
basic information (name, department) and define roles (job
title, responsibility). At the most, they provide insight
(expectations, feelings, expertise) and engender friendship and
trust (values, interests, personal life).
There are many types of
introduction exercises from which to choose. Here are a few:
- Ask participants to state their
names, area of responsibility, # of years with the company,
expectations for the session, and a one-word description of
themselves. Write the expectations on a flip chart; keep a
running total of the # of years of experience.
Purpose: a low risk introduction to use when the group
is first getting together; provides participants with basic
information; gives group a sense of the group's total
experience level; gives the facilitator insight into what to
- Pair up the participants,
preferably with people they don't know. Ask participants to
interview each other on several topics: name, title, expected
contribution to the session, family, home, hobbies, interests.
Each interviewer introduces his partner to the group.
Purpose: a fun, non-threatening way to get participants
to open up more and to get to know each other on many levels,
including non-work areas; especially useful if the group is
going to meet over a long period of time; encourages
individuals to put "skin in the game" during the
session by focusing on what they bring to the table.
- Ask participants to share an
observation about a previous session - something they learned,
a question, a metaphor to describe their feelings, or a symbol
that describes the progress of the group.
Purpose: a way to build on relationships, provide
continuity between sessions, check for understanding,
demonstrate expertise, provide insight into how participants
are feeling and relating to each other.
- Provide participants with a
situation: "If you had a dinner party and could invite
anyone (living or dead), who would it be? Why?" or
"In your next life, what (animal, person, thing) would
you like to be reincarnated as? Why?"
Purpose: provides sharing of values and interests;
helps others to know how they think, feel and make decisions;
a fun way to help people be seen in a "non-work"
Some tips on using
- Do some sort of introduction at the start of each session.
- Start with "low risk" introductions, until the group has "jelled"; gradually move to introductions that reveal more about the participants.
- Pick people from various locations in the room when soliciting volunteers; don't "go around the room" and let the person at the very end of the line get nervous waiting for his or her turn.
- Make introductions fun and non-threatening.
- Listen to what is said, and use the information to ensure session success.
In summary, introductions
accomplish many things for the session participants - they break
the ice, help form relationships and trust, and provide
information to help the team form and norm. For facilitators,
introductions also add value by providing insight into
participant personality, interest level, and biases. They
encourage buy-in to the process and assist in the review of
concepts and issues. Introductions are powerful tools that every
facilitator should exploit.
Written by Susan Parks
Communications Programming Inc.
Practice employing one of these
introduction methods the next time you're running a group. I'd
love to hear what happens for you. Please email
me your comments.
Spunk: The Feisty Guide for Reviving People and Our Planet
by A. Gayle Hudgens, Ph.D.
Dr. Hudgens, founder of the firm, Sustainability
Coaching, is known as the Cultural Creative Coach. Her book is
an exciting, powerful, and sound alternative to the personal,
social, ecological, and economic violence plaguing our world,
Collaborative Spunk empowers ordinary people to become "leaderful"
and co-create joyful, just, and viable communities wherever they
are "planeted." Readers will discover they can have
fun and find meaning in the process.
Published by SOS Press, a division of Sustainable Obtainable
Solutions, an emerging nonprofit in Montana
dedicated to the sustainability of public lands and the plant,
animal, and human communities that depend on them.
Share your favorite "Introductions" with us.
Please send us
descriptions of your favorite Introductory exercises to ../contact.html
and we'll share with you all the inputs