(Adapted from my book, The Secrets of Facilitation, 2nd ed.)
Throughout a facilitated session, you use three parking boards to track important information:
- The “decisions list” identified decisions or recommendations made by the group during the session.
- The “issues list” included topics that need to be discussed later in the session or entirely outside the session.
- The “actions list” documented actions to be performed sometime after the completion of the session.
At the end of the meeting, review all three parking boards, starting with the decisions list.
The goal of the decision review is to remind the team of the decisions that have been made. In addition, you can use this review to strengthen the commitment to action, identify potential issues, and develop strategies for overcoming those issues.
Smart Facilitators use four steps for reviewing the decisions list. After completing the first step, you may choose to do one or more of the other steps, depending upon the amount of time you have available, the importance of the decisions, the need for commitment to action, and the level of resistance expected from others outside the meeting.
Method 1: Simple Review of Decisions
The most straight-forward method for reviewing decisions is simply to read through the list of items on the decisions list and asked, “Does this list fairly portray the decisions we made in this meeting? Were there any other decisions that we made?”
|Sample Decisions List:
1. If internal candidate identified in advance, allow for fast-track hiring process based on 14-day internal posting
2. Provide interviewing training to all hiring managers and interviewers
3. Scan resumes into computer to permit searching
4. Permit departments to be involved in screening process at their discretion
5. Provide avenue for giving signing bonuses to attract top candidates
Method 2: Document Decision and Benefit
After reviewing the decision list, you can help ensure that the team members understand the value gained by documenting benefits of each decision.
- Make sure your decisions on the decision list are numbered.
- Create a two-column chart, with the first relatively small, about four inches. Label the first column “Decision” and label the second column “Benefit.”
- Place a “1” in the first column and asked the following question.
Facilitator: Now that we have reviewed the decisions, let’s take a minute to document the benefits of each of these decisions. This is important because, more than likely, one or more of us will be asked to explain why we made the decisions that we made. By documenting the benefits of each of our decisions, it will help ensure that each of us will be delivering the same message throughout.
Let’s take a look at this first decision. It says…Let’s assume that this decision has been implemented. Think about the impact of this decision on the organization. Think about what we’ve gained by getting this decision implemented. Let’s identify a couple bullets. What are the benefits of implementing this decision?
- Continue until the team has documented benefits for each of the decisions.
By tracking and reviewing the decisions made, every person in the meeting will have a clear understanding of the results of the meeting. By also documenting benefits, the participants will have a common vision of the value gained by the decisions. This common vision can be beneficial as participants communicate to others the reasons for the decisions.
|Creates a fast-track process for internal candidates, while still making the position available to others in the organization|
|Increases likelihood of identifying stronger candidates and eliminating weaker candidates; reduces risk of legally inappropriate questions by interviewer during the interview process|
Method 3: Barriers and Potential Strategies
After documenting decisions and benefits, consider having the group identify potential barriers to implementing the decisions.
Facilitator We have identified the benefits of each of our decisions. These are important benefits to achieve. At the same time however, there may be barriers that are going to stand in our way of getting these decisions implemented. These may be internal barriers, external barriers or other things that get in the way of these decisions moving forward. Let’s build a list of these. What are the barriers that might get in the way of these decisions being implement?
Sample Potential Barriers:
- After recording all of the potential barriers, create a four-column chart labeled “Barrier | Strategy | Who | When,” with the first relatively small, about four inches.
- Place a “1” in the first column and asked the following question.
Facilitator: These barriers can certainly make it difficult to successfully implement the decisions we have made. It’s important, therefore, that we take proactive steps to attempt to minimize the impact of these barriers. Let’s walk through each one and determine what strategies we can take to address them.
Let’s take a look at the first barrier. It says…Let’s assume that we must prevent this barrier from negatively impacting the implementation of the decision. Think about the things we can do to prevent the negative impact. What actions should be taken? Who needs to be involved? What can be done? Let’s build a list. What actions can we take to prevent this potential barriers from impacting the decision?
- Document each success strategy identified by the group.
- Once all the success strategies are documented, ask the group to decide who in the room should lead the implementation of each strategy. Have the leader of the strategy commit to a date by when the strategy will be completed.
Our experience suggests that the Barrier/Strategy discussion is most needed with organizations in which there is considerable resistance to change.
If you do document barriers and potential strategies, we believe it is important to first identify the benefits for each of the decisions. By documenting the benefits first, the team will more likely see the value of overcoming the barriers. If barriers are identified without documenting benefits, it is possible that the team can get so discouraged by the barriers they have to overcome, that they begin second guessing the value of the decisions.
|Hold a management briefing on the recommendations and benefits to gain buy-in for implementation||Robert||Within 3 weeks|
|Hold briefing for supervisors to ask their help in defining what they would want to see in the interviewing training; have supervisors select three to serve as an advisory team for HR in developing the training||Sandra||Within 6 weeks|
Method 4: Polling the Jury
In several types of facilitated sessions, it is essential to have a confirmation of agreement from all participants before beginning the implementation of solutions. Sessions related to strategic planning, issue resolution and process reengineering are three types in particular in which it can be helpful to ensure that you have the agreement of all involved.
One method to ensure you have full agreement is to poll the jury.
- At the beginning of the session, define consensus, “I can live with it and support it.” (See Chapter X., “The Secrets to Building Consensus,” for a sample dialogue for defining consensus.)
- Also at the beginning, indicate that at the end of the session you will ask all participants if they can live with and support the solutions created.
- After reviewing the decisions made, and optionally, the benefits, potential barriers and success strategies, go around the room asking each participant,
Facilitator: Can you live with and support these decisions?
- If any concerns are raised, you might ask the participant the following.
Facilitator: What is the minimum amount of change you would recommend to the group in order for this solution to be something you can live with and support?
- Alternatively, if you believe the concerns might be less severe, you might first ask the following.
Facilitator: Will these concerns prevent you from living with and supporting the solution?
- If changes are recommended, suggest a time limit for discussing the recommendation and ask the participants if they are willing to enter into the discussion.
- Once resolution is reached, ensure that you still have the consensus of the prior participants before continuing to poll the jury.
Facilitator: We just heard a suggestion of a change to one of the actions. Let’s review it…Any questions or concerns about incorporating the change?
Get more information and training about reviewing decisions and closing a meeting with impact – visit Leadership Strategies’ website.
Certified Master Facilitator Michael Wilkinson is the CEO and Managing Director of Leadership Strategies, Inc., The Facilitation Company and author of The Secrets of Facilitation 2nd Edition, The Secrets to Masterful Meetings, and The Executive Guide to Facilitating Strategy. Leadership Strategies is a global leader in facilitation services, providing companies with dynamic professional facilitators who lead executive teams and task forces in areas like strategic planning, issue resolution, process improvement and others. The company is also a leading provider of facilitation training in the United States, having trained over 18,000 individuals.