When facilitating a complex issue, I often find myself either drawing, introducing, or explaining a conceptual model to help sharpen the team’s thinking.
Let’s say the team is talking about their target customer. The conversation may start with a bit of brainstorming and then the ideas categorize themselves. The categories are then talked about in such a way as I hear terms such as “sweet spot,” or the “bullseye,” that’s when I’ll draw a rough version of a bullseye target and confirm (or deny) the categories.
Perhaps, during a conversation, they have settled on an “answer” and it seems that they need to think through the ramifications of their decision more thoroughly. You can introduce a conceptual model to have a more robust discussion. I like to use Kurt Lewin’s Force-Field Analysis where I draw this “T-chart” and the group determines the driving and restraining forces.
Finally, you might be observing a team dynamic and share a model to explain what you are observing. For example, it is not uncommon for teams to embark on a new initiative with high hopes. Once they get into it, they realize it’s not as easy as they thought! This would be a good time to share Bruce Tuckman’s model on the stages of team development:
I also show this corresponding productivity curve to assure them that what they are going through is normal and natural. But they have to get through a few hurdles to achieve team success.
There are a bazillion models out there…many of them emanate from the trusty consultant’s two-by-two matrix. My favorite matrix is this quick decision matrix that enables team members to discuss two variables of an item: