FoCuSeD™ Introductory Facilitation Skills – Online Class

FoCuSeD™ Introductory Facilitation Skills – Course Description

How significant is the value of Facilitation? A Collaboration Revolution is coming and you need to be ready with the needed critical skills for success: self-awareness, teambuilding and trust, communication skills, critical thinking, innovative problem-solving, and collaborative solutions – facilitation skills in business and in life. As we move towards an era when outsourcing is commonplace, co-creating, co-working, and the gig economy increases, these skills become more critical. The ability to bring people together and accomplish good work – group facilitation skills – is a skill-set that cannot be outsourced and is transferrable from one role or business to another. Increasingly, these skills are being included as core competencies in many job roles because people develop better ideas that benefit the greater whole. These are the most important skills to develop in the 21st Century.

My FoCuSeD™ Facilitation technique is a unique approach to structured facilitation and the state-of-the-art in structured facilitation methodology. Until FoCuSeD™, facilitation techniques have been either about “process” or “people” skills. FoCuSeD™ contains a unique concept for developing structured agendas with an understanding of the two parallel developments occurring, “the workshop/meeting process and the emotional group cycle”, that must be holistically planned to achieve collaborative useful solutions – the ultimate structured facilitation technique.

My FoCuSeD™ Introductory Facilitation Skills online class is self-paced learning. This class covers skills that supplement your job skills. I provide you with detailed people tools to ensure collaborative useful solutions and I give you effective leadership, business, and interpersonal skills that build your confidence and enhance your ability to be successful. Students also receive a PDF version of FoCuSeD™ Introductory Facilitation Skills book and a digital, sharable class Certificate of Completion.  This sets the foundation for your group facilitation skills. I cover:

  • What is facilitation and when is it used.
  • What do facilitators do?
  • “How to” present yourself effectively.
  • “How to” actively listen.
  • “How to” ask effective questions.
  • “How to” improve your communication.


For additional information – online course description

Also available:

    • FoCuSeD™ Facilitating People and Conflict – Online Class – $125 US
    • FoCuSeD™ Holistic Facilitation Process Design | Problem Solving – Online Class – $125 US

The Future Requires a Collaborative Skill-Set

I’ve been reading about automation, technology, robotics, AI, big data, etc., and I find these emerging trends interesting and useful, but what does this mean for future jobs?

I know these emerging trends are going to replace many future jobs, but what is overlooked is that people’s input will still be needed for the work technology cannot do. Technology has its limitations, it cannot:

  • Actively listen to understand meaning and enable effective communication.
  • Think creatively to create innovative ideas and solve problems.
  • Think critically to turn data into meaningful information and then knowledge.
  • Develop collaborative teams.
  • Build trust and understanding within groups.

So, what this means is that we need a broader set of skills that are transferrable from one role or business to another – Group Facilitation Skills. As a Group Facilitator, people tell me that they work better face-to-face because, as helpful as technology is, it is a barrier to collaboration. Interpersonal communication is 56% non-verbal and that is lost through technology. People need to chat to develop a social connection. This connection helps them build trust and understanding.

Technology helps with large volumes of information, repetitive tasks, analysis, etc. If we embrace it and use it to provide us with assistance, then it becomes a useful tool and if we don’t, then it becomes a barrier. Speaking with my father, a portrait photographer, he said that because of the proliferation of digital cameras in our phones, anyone can capture an image, but they cannot compose the image – that requires human input. He is right and this is applicable to all technology.

What this means for future jobs is that regardless of what you do, what will set you apart and keep you viable are Group Facilitation skills – these universally applicable skills are important to your success. Technology cannot replace this collaborative skill-set because it cannot duplicate interpersonal and social interaction or group facilitation skills.

Common Process Don’ts

In planning a workshop / meeting agenda, there are many processes you can use, but there are also some that should not be used – Common Process Don’ts.  These provide no effective way to make an objective decision.

Common process don’ts that Facilitators should refrain from using.
Pros and Cons
Pros and Cons is a common process don’t used by many Facilitators.  Synonyms are:
  • Pluses and Minuses
  • Advantages and Disadvantages
  • For and Against
  • Strengths and Weaknesses
When one person is deciding between two or more choices, Pros and Cons work well, but when used with two or more people, Pros and Cons are ineffective.  Why?
  • pro for one person can be a con for another.  In this situation, one wins by attrition – you wear the other person down. Example: In selecting a place to live, “an average annual temperature of 72° F” would be a Pro to someone who wanted a moderate climate year-round while it would be a Con to someone who wanted four distinct seasons.
  • There is no effective way to compare.  Do you count how many pros versus how many cons?  Are all weighted the same?

Instead – use Objective Criteria – criteria that can be measured and a prioritizing process to decide between the choices.

Subjective Criteria
Subjective Criteria is another common process don’t used by many Facilitators.  Subjective criteria, e.g., “I like it”, “Management Discretion”, “Vendor Viability”, etc., are meaningless because they mean something different to every person.
Instead – use Objective Criteria – criteria that can be measured.

Two Lists at Once
Two Lists at Once is another common process don’t.  When Facilitators ask questions of participants such as, “What can we do to keep the office open or what do we do if it closes?“, they are asking two questions that require two separate lists.  The problem is that the people will begin listing items for the first question, but as soon as someone lists an item for the second question, they focus on the second list, forgetting the first list.  The Facilitator also has to continuously ask to which list the item belongs.
Instead – ask one question at a time and develop one list at a time.
Accepting only Two Choices
Accepting only Two Choices is another common process don’t.  Facilitators are often presented with having to facilitate between two choices – this is win-lose no matter how you word it because there are never only two choices.
Instead – use Win-Win – you generate as many choices as possible, including off-the-wall choices, and then use Objective Criteria and a prioritizing process to select one out of many.

Paradigms – Challenge and Be Creative – “Headlines”

This PET challenges paradigms and is very useful in describing complex concepts.  An analogous way to help people express complex issues in a non-threatening manner.  Note: This can also be used to develop Visions, Goals, or anything that is complicated to express.
  • To express complex issues in a non-threatening manner.
  • To enable people to describe complex concepts.

Do the following:

    • Break the group into small groups of 4 people each.
    • Explain the rules:
      • Each small group has 20 minutes to create the headline they would like to see on the front cover of “X” (the periodical you selected in preparation) 20 years from now.
      • Write the lead paragraph behind the headline.
      • Write these on flip chart paper – give them markers.
  • Watch what they are doing – they may have questions – ensure that they are clear.
  • After 20 minutes, reconvene the small groups.  Ask each small group to read out their headline.  Capture key ideas and key words used, ensuring that they key are the ones that they want you to capture.
  • Once done, see if one of the headlines stands out to the group.  If so, start with that and incorporate the key ideas and words from the others.  If not, start fresh until the group likes a headline.
    Note: Capture, in bullet points, the key ideas and key words that explain it.  Do not worry about word-smithing the headline.
  • Summarize.

Debriefing Questions:

  • “What patterns or ideas do you see in the headlines?”
  • “What are the headlines telling you?”
  • “How will you use this in the rest of the meeting?”

Structured Thought Processes

A key competency for a Facilitator is the ability to Plan Appropriate Group Processes.  A well thought out process (agenda) makes the difference in enabling participants to achieve their goal.  A poor process leaves the group struggling.  A process that mirrors a structured thought process enables the group to progress without missing key ideas.

Structured thought processes organize the thoughts of the people enabling them to methodically think through a problem, make a decision, prioritize a list, etc.  These help when you are designing a process and/or when the people get stuck on something.  Knowing the basic structured thought patterns helps.  Some basic structured thought patterns are:
  • For Problem-Solving:
    • Symptoms – Cause – Solution
    • Problem Statement – Objectives – Solutions – Select Solution
  • For Setting Direction:
    • Vision – Goals – Objectives – Tactics
    • Why – Where – How – When
  • For Defining Actions:
    • What – Who – When
    • What are we Doing – What are the Barriers – What do we want to Accomplish – How do we get There
    • Overall Goal – Steps to reach Goal – Sequence of Steps

Note: These help without missing critical components, such as “Overall Goal”.

Questions to Think About 
The following questions will help you think through the process to ensure a well structured thought process.
  • Are the potential Participants disagreeing about Objectives?
    • Yes – have them define the Overall Goal.
  • Are the potential Participants disagreeing about Criteria?
    • Yes – have them define a clear Objective.
  • Are the potential Participants disagreeing about which is first, second, etc.?
    • Yes – have them agree on the end result – the Outcome.
  • Are the potential Participants stuck on how to solve a problem?
    • Yes – Have them agree on a clear Problem Statement.
  • Are the potential Participants disagreeing about Priorities?
    • Yes – have them define the Overall Goal or Objective.
Note:  All structured thought processes build top-down, i.e., they begin with a broad, overall understanding and delve into the details.