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Lean Team Facilitating Skills
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The facilitator's job is multifaceted. He or she is expected to help the team accomplish their goals by overseeing the group decision-making process, while at the same time helping the team develop as a working unit. Basically all the skills and disciplines necessary to be a good fa­cilitator can be described using the word P.O.I.N.T.: Plan, Observe, Intervene, Nurture, Teach.

PLAN, Observe, Intervene, Nurture, Teach

Plan the team agreement: A lot of unnecessary problems teams can experience can be avoided with good planning. Planning should begin in the first stages when a team begins meeting. Everyone comes to the team with different needs, expectations, and ideas about how the team and the team meetings should be run. The facilitator can help the team by facilitating a team "agreement." This agreement will be the rules by which the team will operate. Anything that is important to the mem­bers should be discussed and included in their team agreement. A typi­cal agreement will include issues such as

• We will start the meetings on time.
• We will have and follow a timed agenda.
• We will not interrupt one another.
• We will discuss team problems at the meetings only.
• If we cannot gain consensus we will vote and live with it.
• We will carry out assignments on time.
• We will evaluate every meeting using this agreement.

The most important thing about the team agreement is that it be­longs to the team. They own it! It is not a list of to-do's put together by someone else. It is the team's creation and something they agree needs to happen for them to work successfully together. In a sense, it is the team's first decision together. The facilitator can help the team with this agreement by leading them through a process of generating a list of their concerns and then a discussion about each item. If the mem­bers agree that an issue is important, it will be included on their agree­ment. The team agreement becomes the team's behavior goals for each meeting. It helps the team work to become more efficient with each meeting. Without a team agreement there are no agreed-upon rules so in a sense anything goes; and anything probably will. The team agree­ment becomes one of the facilitator's most effective tools for guiding the team back on track when they have swerved off the course they set for themselves.

Plan the meeting structure: There are three things that all suc­cessful teams do well.

1. They work well together (teamwork).
2. They follow a step-by-step approach to problem-solving (process).
3. They make effective use of their meeting time (discipline).

A disciplined approach to the team meetings will pay huge divi­dends. One of the most important agreements a team will make is how their meetings will be structured. The facilitator's role is to help the team choose and follow a good disciplined process. An example of a good meeting process for teams looks like this:

• Review last meeting's minutes.
• Review this week's agenda.
• Execute the agenda.
• Summarize the meeting (action register).
• Plan next week's agenda together.
• Evaluate the meeting.

Plan the agenda: Once the team agrees on the meeting process, the facilitator can help the team before the meetings by assisting the team in the planning of their agenda. The better they plan the meeting time, the better their chance of making that time effective. Here are a few tips for good meeting planning.

• Solicit items for the next agenda before ending the current meeting.
• Prioritize the agenda items according to importance.
• Recruit a team member to lead each agenda item.
• Help each agenda item leader plan the methods and tools and time needed to accomplish the agenda task.
• Ensure that agendas are distributed before meeting.

Working up front to help the team plan the team agreement, agree on the meeting structure, and plan each meeting agenda will pave the way for the team's chances of developing and working successfully. If you want to get off to a good start, PLAN, PLAN, PLAN.

To Be Continued


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