You are part of the problem

May 31, 2015

Wait – I am not! No way, I am not part of the problem. If he was more co-operative or if she would stop beating a drum, this meeting would not have been hi-jacked. Does this sound familiar? Even a little bit? Even if you didn’t say it out loud?

One of the more eye opening experiences that I have had, was examining
my mindset, as I dissected a facilitation that I had performed. It was surprising, shocking really, to discover how impactful mindset is to the eventual outcome of the facilitation.

As a leader you have heard that you should ask for the views of others before you share your own (in the interests of not biasing the discussion of course); that you should always go into a meeting knowing what you want the outcome to be; that you need to be cautious about being frank with your opinions. The idea of being open, unscripted or unplanned is … well…risky.

As a result, you tend to walk into a meeting with firm ideas of what the ‘script’ will be in this discussion. You may be thinking “I already know the answer” or “I’ll share only what you need to know” or “this group is hopeless”. And when you do, you are driving the meeting down an narrow path.

The casualties of this approach are transparency, curiosity and full participation because your mindset says “I know the best approach”. Participants are thinking “wow – he/she was SOOO not interested in another viewpoint” and suddenly, in spite of your best intentions, you are part of the problem.

As a facilitator and a leader, the notion of transparency as an enabler was a real ‘aha moment’. When you relax your assumptions, state your views and why you think them AND genuinely seek feedback, you add to the knowledge in the room. Your transparency allows people to make informed decisions about what is relevant and what should be shared, increasing the knowledge in the room. Your genuine curiosity encourages participants become accountable for their role in the discussion. You create a climate for more effective discussions. Now – you’re part of the solution.

While the process of self examination was admittedly uncomfortable, there was a liberty that came with being able to say “I might be part of the problem and here’s why I think that. What do you think?”

A great article on this subject by Roger Schwarz who has developed and trains this approach.