The value of facilitating workshops
Six essential advantages
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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