Do you ever need to run sessions with your teams to identify solutions to problems, or find a way to move forward?
Maybe you run these brainstorming sessions fully equipped with a supply of different post-it notes and pens, and brown paper to stick on the wall. But have you experienced sessions that start well with everyone coming up with lots of ideas, and then, when it comes to actually deciding on what to do next, the energy just disappears and the session ends with a lot of potentially good options not getting actioned.
This is symptomatic of when the ‘facilitator’s job’ isn’t quite finished and something else is needed. It could be that the items identified are too high-level or not very well defined; in which case these need to be broken down into smaller chunks and clearly explained.
Relative Prioritising and Sizing
Following the brainstorming, consider including the technique of ‘relative prioritising and sizing’. This is a technique often used in an Agile/SCRUM environment, but I have found it to be invaluable in many different situations. It is a way of quickly mapping out the relative priority and complexity or size of the items identified, so that decisions can be made about what to action.
Rather than thinking about what the priority of each item should be, or estimating the work involved, the items are placed on a scale, based on how they sit in relation to other items on that scale. The idea is that our brains are quicker at determining comparisons than worrying about calculating actual amounts. For example, you don’t need to know the exact weights of an apple and a melon, to immediately realise that one is most likely to be about three times bigger and heavier.
As you can see in the image, the horizontal axis represents the size or complexity of the task. The vertical axis represents priority. Ask the group to place each of the items identified during the brainstorming session on the matrix. Lots of discussion around why one thing is considered more or less complex, or higher priority than another, will help increase the shared understanding amongst the group. When all the items have been placed, decisions can more easily be made on which items will be actioned, by who and when.
The next time you find yourself in a brainstorming session, consider adding-on this facilitation tip to help with better decision making on what actions to take.
Click here to download a reference guide about how to use this technique.
APMG-accredited Facilitation Certification
If you found this useful and are looking to advance your facilitation skills, we are running an APMG-accredited Facilitation Certification course in March. This highly interactive workshop includes both the Foundation and Practitioner exams. You will learn the skills needed to become an effective facilitator, covering a broad range of practical facilitation tips, tools and techniques and leaving you capable of stepping into a wide variety of situations and getting brilliant results from your teams.
Find out all the details of our next facilitation course here
We’ve only got a few places remaining so don’t put it off – make 2018 the most productive and successful year yet for you and your team.
Here’s a timelaspe video taken at one of our previous facilitation courses of a group in action working with problem solving tools and techniques.