The value of facilitating workshops

Six essential advantages

You’ve probably already heard that facilitation is great. But why? What's the actual value of it? Facilitation can break down unproductive meetings and provide effective ways of harnessing the collective brainpower of stakeholders, building consensus, and solving complex challenges.

1. Harnessing the collective brainpower of stakeholders

The biggest challenges facing organisations today, such as digitalisation, green transitions, changing customer patterns, and harnessing data, are complex and can’t be solved by single individuals or isolated disciplines. Instead, we need to engage a multitude of disciplines, experiences, and competencies. This requires effective ways to communicate and collaborate. Facilitation by an external party can bring clarity, help stakeholders understand each other, harness the collective competencies within a organisation.

Facilitation by an external party can bring clarity, help stakeholders understand each other, and ensure everybody's on the same page

2. Securing all stakeholders' views and experiences are represented

People rarely speak an equal amount of time in meetings. Hence, ideas, experiences, and perspectives aren’t represented equally. There are many reasons for this, from corporate hierarchies to gender biases and personality traits (e.g., introversion vs. extroversion). Regardless of the reasons, a facilitator can help steer the conversation and ensure that everybody gets to share their thoughts.

This is essential, as to solve complex challenges, it's necessary to take multiple stakeholders' perspectives into account. Skillful facilitation and selected methods can help achieve this, resulting in a broader understanding of the problem, and possible solutions, improving the overall quality of outputs, and securing that everyone feels heard.

3. Increasing time efficiency by establishing a structure for the work

Meetings are time-consuming and typically rather inefficient. According to research from Harvard Business Review, we spend an average of 23 hours per week in meetings. At the same time, some 71% of senior management consider them unproductive and inefficient. They disrupt workflows and take time away from the deep work necessary to solve complex challenges. However, when using facilitation, we can become more efficient, establishing a clear structure and goals for the conversation.

4. Going from loose talks to concise and actionable ideas

When dealing with complex challenges, abstraction and vagueness are comfortable – but not very effective. A simple exercise like writing an idea down on a small pitch card, as we did for the Confederation of Danish Industry's Strategy Seminar, can be helpful. These need to be self-explanatory and are a powerful way of making ideas tangible and concise. By making ideas precise, the dialogue about them also becomes more constructive, and it minimises potential miscommunication.

Pitch-cards are a powerful way of making ideas tangible and concise.

5. Establishing consensus and buy-in with stakeholders

Effectively executing an idea depends on choosing what to do and what not to do. This, unfortunately, means that it's nearly impossible to satisfy all stakeholders, which complicates things when everyone’s buy-in is necessary to move forward.

Through facilitation methods, such as dot voting, it’s possible to build consensus for an idea or approach, prevent that it's only the highest paid participants' opinion that matters (so-called HIPPO-effect), and secure that all participants contribute equally.

6. Building trust within the team

Last but not least, a well-facilitated workshop is not only a time-effective way of achieving a goal but also an opportunity to get away from the computer screens, change pace, and spend time with colleagues in a different context. A workshop is serious business but with room for laughter and casual chats, which increases psychological safety and creates connections between participants.

Sounds interesting?

Jasper Vangsgaard

You should talk to Business & Service Designer
Jasper Vangsgaard
+45 301 14 113
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