Discussion Highlights: If sponsors want guarantees: You can assure them that every issue that people care deeply about and are willing to take responsibility for, will be addressed and worked upon--within time limitations of event. You can't guarantee WHAT will happen--something will! Client has to relinquish control of specific outcomes for this process to work.|
Pre-planning with client/sponsor is important. As Facilitator, offer and explain several different methods that might be appropriate, including OST. (You don't have to name the method you'd like to use. You could say, "I have a way we can meet your needs (of documentation, etc.)." According to needs/boundaries of sponsor, choose the method. If OST, assure the sponsor there won't be unmanageable chaos; however, this will be a different kind of meeting. Identify what are the unconditionals, the givens? Identify them up front to create the boundaries available. When crafting the invitation, make sure it's honest. Craft it carefully; send it widely. Tell potential attendees that this won't be a traditional kind of meeting; this may be very inviting to some attendees, and uncomfortable for others. Know your population. You may need to give people some time to change, to be willing to accept this kind of process. As Facilitators, we create the opportunity for people to come--that's our responsibility, however, we are not responsible for who comes nor the outcomes.
Reflection Circles: If using a speaker, figure out three to four questions to ask participants before the speaker speaks. Ask participants to reflect on speaker's message: What had meaning for them? What are the next steps to bring these ideas into the organization? Ask them to write out their responses and ask these same questions again after the speaker--that is the evaluation of speaker. Information about Reflection Circles is available on John Engel's web.
Can you get to action outcomes in one day? It was suggested that there is a big advantage for attendees to sleep on it. Can do an evening session and then can go deeper the second day, or re-convene after people have a chance to work on it (for days/weeks). How do you sustain energy for evening sessions? Feed them first (or allow time for people to get their own food).