Approaches for changing meetings for good
Here are approaches I highly recommend to increase the engagement and effectiveness of your meetings and events
Some are easy to learn and can be implemented immediately
Others take longer to master
All these approaches are powerful, inclusive, versatile, effective and well worth exploring.
For quick links, visit our Resources page
Liberating Structures are activities that foster engagement by encouraging everyone to participate -- not only by speaking up but also by co-creating the content and outcome.
For example, Ecocycle Planning can help your group capture the big picture of a topic, relationship or challenge and determine next steps.
If you'd like to experience the three most versatile Liberating Structures or try out the Ecyocycle, I'd be happy run a short demonstration for you. Or, I can introduce Liberating Structures to a group by working on a particular issue or challenge the group faces. Contact me to discuss options.
Appreciative Inquiry and the SOAR Process
Appreciative Inquiry is a collaborative and highly participatory approach that groups can use to identify their strengths and shared aspirations. Appreciative Inquiry helps groups see problems and challenges as opportunities so they can co-create a better future. It rests on the belief that an organization can be recreated by curious, creative and engaging conversations.
When planning for the future, groups can focus on their Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations and (desired) Results (SOAR). The SOAR process is a positive alternative to the traditional strength, weakness, opportunity and threat (SWOT) analysis. To learn more about the SOAR process, visit this website.
Integral Facilitation is a holistic framework that enables a facilitator to be aware of all the things going on in a meeting: what the group is doing, how it is doing it, what is going on relationally within the group, and what the facilitator is experiencing.
To learn more, read this Intro to Integral Facilitation
I'm a certified teacher for the Journey of Facilitation and Collaboration 5-day leadership immersion experience based on Integral Facilitation. I teach a shorter course introducing integral facilitation on the Damascus Project Network.
Convergent Facilitation is an effective decision-making process that builds trust from the beginning, surfaces concerns and addresses them, and turns conflicts into creative dilemmas that groups feel energized to solve together.
To learn more, read this introduction to convergent facilitation and what I've learned from practicing it. I highly recommend checking out the Convergent Facilitation website and reading the book The Highest Common Denominator: Using Convergent Facilitation to Reach Breakthrough Collaborative Decisions by Miki Kashtan.
Clean Language is a set of questions and a way of asking them that enables the listener to really focus what a person is saying and what it means to them. Developed by the late David Grove, these questions are easy to learn and highly versatile. Clean Language questions can help you explore differences of opinion with great curiosity and respect, at home and at work.
To learn more, read this two page introduction, The Benefits of Clean Language for Better Communication.
For tips on using Clean Language every day, find suggestions here.
To learn how Clean Language can be used while facilitating meetings, visit this website.
For a more in-depth look, read Clean Language: Revealing Metaphors and Opening Minds by Wendy Sullivan and Judy Rees or From Contempt to Curiosity by Caitlyn Walker, who also offers Clean Learning.
Positive agreements are a legitimate alternative to contracts, which are typically worded negatively to avoid what the parties don't want and are rooted in fear. I prefer to develop positive agreements with clients up front about what we want, how we work together, who is responsible for what and how we will amend the agreement as things come up (because they will). I believe that taking the time to develop a clear agreement up front minimizes the likelihood of misunderstandings and costly conflicts later. Learn more about my preferences here.
To learn more, read The Book of Agreement by attorney Stewart Levine who describes 10 essential elements for agreements and provides 30 model agreements you (we) can emulate. You can order the book here.