Good facilitation skills are essential for many IA tasks and projects. The ability to successfully guide internal colleagues as well as external groups to shared, valuable outcomes serves a wide range of project needs – achieving stakeholder and team consensus, creating a clear vision for IA strategy, refining a taxonomy, to name just a few.
Careful and detailed planning will define the goals for the session, identify the right participants (and ways to handle a group composition you cannot select and tailor), and create a clear but flexible framework by which to navigate the session. These provide the necessary foundation for any facilitation session, but cannot strictly dictate direction. Navigating any group of individuals with their own perspectives and ideas to a shared definition of success is likely to be challenging. A successful facilitator has to bring a delicate balance of skills and qualities to each session:
- guiding the group towards the outcome without forcing a direction
- leading discussion flow using the framework while adapting to serendipitous findings
- encouraging participation while managing personalities and agendas and minimizing disruptions
At the end of the session, you want participants to have a shared sense of ownership of the outcome and a clear recognition of progress toward the larger goal the facilitation session is serving.
The flow and pace of every session will be different, so adaptability and flexibility are also critical skills for a successful facilitator. Planning and practice certainly help. This workshop will build activities around real-world scenarios from the presenters own experiences that participants can use to plan for and guide their own work.
At the end of the session, we will explore approaches to summarize and analyze the findings, from a summary and synthesis at the end of the session, which provides participants with an immediately valuable takeaway, to analysis of outcomes across multiple sessions to share with a broader group of stakeholders.