"Facilitator's Guide..." gives real solutions to meeting issues in a logical, easy to follow format. Especially helpful was the Open Discussion section which gives insight on why the "groan zone" is so critical to fueling innovative ideas within a team. It's easy to read and easy to use as a reference tool. Graphics are simple and to the point. I highly recommend this book to anyone who leads, facilitates or attends meetings!
First the good: People have often a hard time in trying to understand each other and finding a win-win solution for their common problem. The resulting solution they propose usually doesn't stick very well and the process of finding a good solution will start again. This book gives you tools to get through the most difficult phases in group-decision-making, so the decision made can be a good one. It will take longer, but that is to be expected. All in all a good read, and a useful book to use as a reference manual. The bad: This book also contains a lot of open doors, explaining skills like paraphrasing and mirroring. But having all together in one book is useful. The ugly: Very cheap paper, size is a bit awkwardly large. But the book is cheap to buy and the page size is easily photocopied (which is allowed for facilitation-use).
All in one package are tools for training, helpful hints for group leaders, the dynamics and processes of decision-making, group process skills, agenda design, discussion techniques and more. The authors are obviously masters of their craft, and using their guidelines will undoubtedly enhance the effectiveness of facilitators and workshop leaders. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ The book is visually accessible, with one idea per large page, each page a diagram of the presenting issue. In teaching about the dynamics of group decision-making, for example, the text and illustrations move through various stages of divergent thinking, through the "groan zone" of differences and diversity, to arrive finally at convergent thinking and a group decision that is truly participatory. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Groups and their leaders, being human, inevitably get stuck. For this dilemma the authors provide not just skills for problem solving, but "mindsets for problem solving," encouraging the examination of attitudes, values, and underlying philosophies of cooperation, competition, inclusion, expedience and sustainability. With such a checklist we might not only solve any current group crisis, but also avoid future problems by shifting the underlying causes of conflict. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ The authors are very trusting of groups and their members. There is no blame on membership or leadership when meetings or workshops are not flowing smoothly. The authors state that "Difficult dynamics are treated as group situations that can be handled supportively rather than as individual personalities that need to be fixed." Advice is given for encouraging members to to work together to tackle "any pattern they may wish to change." This volume does not focus on specific issues such as prejudice, stereotyping , and social oppression; this is a training manual in generic group process. It is a well stocked tool box out of which groups can draw what is needed to address their particular group issues. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ If you are a group leader or member, this book will help improve your understanding and performance. If you are a professional trainer, consultant, or educator, this Facilitator's Guide will likely enhance your skills, smooth your rough edges, and increase your effectiveness. That alone seems worth the price. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~by Paula Green; published in Fellowship July/August 1997; used with permission.
OK, I'm biased. I'm Sam's brother. But I saw this gang work on this book for YEARS. They brainstormed an underlying theory of group dynamics that drove meetings. By 1983, when I came to California and started attending their meetings, this theoretical work was well underway. The crowd working on it was a collection of psychologists and several other professionals (legal, computing, writing, etc.)
By 1983, they were already training people to be facilitators and recorders.
As the facilitator training developed into a powerful 15-session class, they polished a remarkable set of self-contained slides. The slides illustrated techniques, insights, and overall models of how agreements are reached and how discussions are (or aren't) progressing.
Once the slides were in good shape (for teaching purposes), they spent five years turning them into pages of a remarkably clear, practical, and insightful book.
This is a valuable book for anyone who wants to create and run meetings that promote worthwhile discussions and result in genuine agreements.
After having read about 30 facilitation/negotiation books, I have to conclude that this is the best. A lot of thought has gone into both the process and the presentation of the facilitation process in this book. I always recommend this book to my teaching assistants and often give them a copy free of charge. If you buy just one book in this area, make it this one! By the way, I have no connection whatsoever with either the authors or the publishers involved. I just believe that this is far and away the best book for facilitators. Not only does it have the best ideas, but it also has the best visual presentation of those ideas!
A good read for people that facilitate change and learning processes, and wonder how to invite participants into a 'brainstorm' beyond the obvious. It give a 3 phase model (divergent, groan and convergent) and connected to that a set of methods, that give people trust in a process, that respects diversity of opinions.
Bought it 6 years ago and still find myself using it from time to time.