RE: Meeting Times
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Sat, 14 Jun 1997 23:55:49 -0500
I agree, but I also realize that facilitation takes practice. If a group
rotates facilitators regularly (like every month) then individuals don't
have a chance to improve and excel at facilitation. I suppose a group could
assign facilitation to a core group of individuals. This would require the
rest of the group to trust the core group's agendas.

I would reccomend creating a faciliation team of 3-5 people, and getting those 
folks to work to become expert faciliatators. Its a huge amount of study and 
work to become excellent at facilitation and should be specialized. The group 
will benefit from it enormously. This group nevers sets the agenda, they just 
implement it, using planned and proven process techniques that they study and 
learn how to use.

On the flip side, I think participants need to follow a facilitator's cues
or instructions. I have noticed that one facilitator cannot force a group
of adults to stick to the agenda or follow meeting rules. Afterall, if a
member misbehaves, can you make that member leave? Participants must choose
to follow the rules (or the facilitator) to allow the meeting to run smoothly.

I find groups work best when they have a common denominator of understanding 
of the groups process. If a member misbehaves, they may not understand what 
the impact of their behavior is on the group, so having a clear group process 
and reminding people of it is the task of the facilitation team. Also, as part 
of each meetings facilitation plan, you anticipate members behaviors and have 
a plan ready for them. 

> Stuff falling off the agenda is either because the facilitator is not doing 
> that job well, or because the group does not want to deal with that issue 

Or, the group has a LOT of issues that must be discussed deeply with the whole
group present. In our case with Wasatch Cohousing, our biweekly general 
meeting is the time when most or all members converge to the same place at
the same time. Those of us with e-mail access try to discuss proposals before
dealing with them in meetings, but only half our households have e-mail 
As a result, many "discussion" items end up on the agenda, which often pushes
some items off the agenda.

I would advise most groups to evaluate how they use large group time. Most 
that I sit in on use their large group time on agenda items that are really 
small group things. Everybody does not have to be involved in every single 
decision and discussion. There are some things its good to have everybodies 
ideas on, others it just gets in the way. This is an area many groups can save 
themselves lots of time.

Also managing large group discussions effectively is a faciliation task. There 
are techniques to getting the most value out of discussion time that well 
trained facilitators and groups use. So instead of incomplete and time 
consuming discussions, you get things to proposals quickly, and effectively. 
Many groups I work with spend 45 minutes to an hour discussing a particular 
issue before even begining to come up with a proposal. You can do this much 
faster, much more effectively and cut your meeting times in half or less. 

Iam not just making all this up, I teach these techniques, they work.

Rob Sandelin
Facilitation Resources

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