I was talking to a CEO of a mid-sized company about an upcoming high stakes meeting – a hugely important meeting with alot riding on the outcome. He asked me, “Why should I hire a professional facilitator?”
What he is really asking is “What are the benefits? What value do you provide and is it worth the investment?”
In the big scheme of things, when you factor in the direct and indirect costs of your meeting, hiring a facilitator is a great investment in securing a successful outcome.
In the 2004 book The Wisdom of Crowds, author James Surowiecki hypothesized that groups are far better at making decisions than individuals as long as four conditions are met:
- The group must have access to a diversity of views that ensures a full range of possible outcomes.
- The participants must act independently of one another so each point of view is valued in the same way.
- There must be a decision-making process where the group can arrive at a collective judgment that is a product of deliberation rather than compromise.
- The decision is made drawing on the local knowledge.
These four conditions speak directly to the value of facilitators:
1. Few groups are likely to meet these conditions; however, facilitators can provide guidance on group composition to include diversity of views.
2/3. They invite participation and encourage a robust dialogue, moving a group past compromise into a collaborative consensus.
4. The facilitator, by definition, believes that the knowledge is resident within the room, and draws upon that local knowledge vs. insinuates himself into the content of the conversation.
When you use a facilitator, you:
Are More Productive. 50% of all team meetings in North America are considered to be a waste of time due to lack of clarity, scope creep, wandering generalities and lack of action. Having a facilitator guide the process provides focus and a sense of deliberateness to the conversation.
Save Time. By investing in a facilitator, you will actually spend less time in meetings, re-hashing what was said and doing “damage control” outside the actual meeting.
Have Better Results. Whether the group is developing a plan, solving a problem, creating a new product or service, the quality of the decision is inherently better. The facilitator ensures all opinions are heard, that there is no process loss (where the best solution(s) are held back and not adopted by the group). A good facilitator aims for a collaborative consensus – that the decision has been thoroughly discussed and vetted – and everyone is willing to support and live with the decision.
Increase Commitment. A facilitator believes the answer lives within the collective intelligence of the team. Because the team works through the solutions and strategies (with a little process help from us) they own the solution. They believe in the plan and implement it wholeheartedly – and the probability of successful implementation increases dramatically.
Have Less Stress. Facilitators focus on the process so you don’t have to. You can fully engage in the content of the discussion, knowing full well that the team expert/facilitator is carefully attuned to all aspects of the team process. That’s just one more thing you don’t have to worry about!
Create Better Relationships. At the end of the day, you not only want people to feel good about the results achieved, but feel good about the people you worked with. You don’t have to love each other, but there should be a high degree of respect and trust. Facilitators are highly skilled in managing the team dynamic to ensure a collaborative, supportive environment.
How do we do this? We are consummate professionals, bringing a treasure trove of tools and techniques and experience to the table.