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How a digital environment for facilitators opens up the virtual floor to insightful ideas and produces great action

In 2016, I was lucky enough to train to become a Group Chair with Vistage, the world’s largest peer group for CEO’s and business leaders. This came at a time of transition for me, as I stepped back from running a successful B2B Fintech business and looked to find a way to put 40 years of business experience to work in support of fellow entrepreneurs.

I learned a lot of things very quickly in the Vistage community, the most important of which was how to facilitate meetings effectively with groups of highly talented and experienced CEO’s. This was a very different experience from running my own business and leading from the front, as I had for more than 25 years.

Here is my take on great facilitation

Great facilitators don’t dominate, they listen and lead, often with little more than a knowing look, or a raised eyebrow – and the results can be extraordinary. Great facilitators, like great coaches, don’t provide the answers, they draw them out by encouraging the teams they work with to openly question and challenge one another, whilst always remaining supportive.

The essential steps

  • Build each session around an open question and make sure the aims of the session are realistic and achievable – we won’t find a solution for global peace in one session, but we might solve questions such as, how can we fix our sales process?
  • Establish situational awareness by providing contextual information so all participants understand the background to the question the session is built around e.g. what has been tried already? why is the outcome important?
  • Solicit ideas – Once situational awareness has been established, open the floor to ideas and suggestions based on the experiences of the participants
  • Encourage debate- The best ideas often surface when there’s honest and open debate amongst the group. Facilitators must manage this process carefully: timing, the context of the discussion and personality types are important factors to be aware of
  • Distil the ideas into a commitment to action so everyone leaves the session with a sense of value in having contributed, and a clear plan

Connecting with Enswarm

Shortly after training with Vistage, I was introduced to Joe Kay, the founder of a new digital Team Intelligence platform called Enswarm. Joe created Enswarm to enable teams to work together effectively and remotely in a digital environment, freeing us from the tyranny of timetables and meetings.

What fascinated me about Enswarm was that it offered the opportunity to digitise facilitation. The challenge was to translate my business facilitation skills into a digital environment, so technology could enable participants to contribute remotely across different time zones in anonymised format.

As with physical facilitation, there is no single way or method to achieve great outcomes and every facilitator will add their own value with their own unique set of skills. But what I have confirmed is that facilitators or team leaders can use Enswarm to pose questions, provide situational awareness, open the virtual floor to ideas and distil well reasoned actions.

As each session progresses, freed by an anonymous interface, a rich set of ideas and suggestions emerges with participants rating each contribution, free from the influence of human bias, groupthink or office politics. And as with physical facilitation, the real magic comes at the end, with all ideas rated by the group and the best ones tagged as actions, confirming Enswarm’s claim that it turns questions and challenges into ideas and ideas into actions.

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Be part of the new frontier of Facilitation

I have been able to facilitate great sessions on Enswarm and in doing so, have developed a datum, or benchmark as a starter’s guide for facilitators. But Enswarm offers facilitators a blank canvas of unlimited flexibility on which to add their own brand of magic.

If you are an experienced facilitator with a thirst to explore new ways and new mediums which will allow you to extend the reach of your practice, I would strongly recommend you engage with Enswarm. I am sure you and the groups you facilitate will be amazed by the experience and the new horizon this technology offers.

To experience this revolution in facilitation, click on the link below to sign up as my guest on Enswarm and I will share my guide on how to run great Enswarm sessions as soon as we onboard you.

Once you have facilitated a session on Enswarm, please let me know how you get on!