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Successful facilitation requires the 4Ps of preparation

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The word ‘facilitate’ comes from the French word facile, which means to make easy or easier. An effective facilitator ‘eases’ the conversation between a group of people that enables them to reach a conclusion or a decision. The facilitator is not part of the group but uses their group facilitation skills to work with the group to help them achieve an identified outcome or result. They challenge views and ensure that all views are heard so that the best possible decisions are made.

Whether it be to facilitate a decision, an outcome, learning or feedback, facilitation techniques need to be applied effectively. An adaptation of Jeff Bracken ‘s work outlining the 8Ps’ of facilitation is:

4 P’s of Preparation

 Working through these questions will help you feel more prepared for and be able to use your facilitation training and skills to gain more effective outcomes.

  1. The first P stands for the purpose
  • What is the purpose of the session?
  • What are you there to achieve?
  • What is the ideal result or outcome?

This information is key as it will provide focus for the session eg. Are you there to gauge people’s current views and thinking or are you there to try and gain consensus on a topic? Knowing your purpose will allow you to plan which facilitation techniques will be of the most use.

  1. The second P stands for participants
  • Who are the participants?
  • Why have they been invited?
  • What skills/knowledge/expertise do they bring?

The answers to these questions will allow you to plan how and when to involve the participants over the course of your facilitation. Eg. If one participant has headed up the project, you might want to involve them more or if you have a group of introverts, you might want to use different facilitation tools than with a group of extroverts.

  1. The 3rd P stands for potential issues
  • What are the potential issues that might arise?
  • What are the biases, preconceived ideas, and other potential barriers 
     to success?
  • What might the sticking points be?
  • What could go wrong?

These questions can prompt you to think about solutions or use processes that minimise the likelihood of them being an issue.

  1. The 4th P stands for process
  • What are the processes to be used?
  • Which processes will deliver the result you’re looking for?

Once you have considered the 4Ps, you are in a solid position to design processes that fit your group or organization’s unique situation and needs. There are numerous facilitation skills that can support decision-making, engagement and open and honest communication. Processes can include activities, tools such as SWOT or DeBono’s Thinking hats or strategies for gaining consensus . Choosing the right processes is paramount to success.

You are also now in a position to put together an agenda that provides clear flow, time allocations, processes and expected outcomes. All that’s left to do is employ your facilitation skills as you work through the agenda.

For more information our facilitation skills course or training on facilitation skills, contact Jill on 1300 850 959

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JEM Management Training

JEM Management Training designs and delivers flexible, in-house management training courses to help  organisations in Perth engage their staff fully in the workplace.

As time is often limited, JEM Training offers flexible half-day management training courses which focus on a specific area of management expertise. These short courses build upon each other over a period of time, chosen by you, to provide ongoing management development.

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