How Decisions are Really Made

In the city where I live, there have long been calls for the creation of fenced, leash-free dog areas. I’ve been involved in facilitating a few of the meetings about them — over years, not months. The community engagement that went into planning these dog parks was extensive, and support for the initiative was robust.

The first one was installed last year, with at least one more about to be constructed. And now the local Council has voted to remove the one and cancel the rest, pending further study.

Why? Because some of the neighbours who live close to the new dog park are very unhappy.

So what happened? Continue reading “How Decisions are Really Made”

Physician, Heal Thyself

I am currently participating in board meetings of the International Association of Facilitators, in my new role as Regional Director for Canada. Seventeen of us have gathered for three days in Kuala Lumpur.

We’re right in the thick of things, but two insights I’ve gained so far:

  1. Even a bunch of facilitators can struggle with getting stuck in the weeds, and it happens predictably in the early afternoon. (But that’s a post for another day!)
  2. It is both hard and good for me to be a participant sometimes.

Continue reading “Physician, Heal Thyself”

Opening the Black Box of Decision-Making

It’s no wonder people can be cynical about the value of stakeholder engagement. They submit their ideas and never see them again.

We’re getting better at engaging people, better at assuring them their input matters, better perhaps at telling them their input is being considered alongside other inputs, and occasionally better at telling them what was eventually decided. But the path between their input and that decision is still largely shrouded in mystery.

Continue reading “Opening the Black Box of Decision-Making”

Chronic Responsiveness

I write on being nimble and responsive to changing conditions from the “front of the room,” perhaps when you are running a meeting, workshop or negotiation. Much of our ability to excel at this comes from detailed preparation, self-awareness and practice. And it really helps to be well-rested and well-nourished in the moment.

Even with all of that, nimble facilitation is tiring. It requires a good dose of adrenaline, and a crash inevitably follows. Continue reading “Chronic Responsiveness”

Correct or Curious?

Would you rather be curious, or correct?

I remember hearing someone describe a lesson he was taught as a child: “It’s better to be nice than to be right.”

I was shocked. Is it? (That is clearly not a childhood lesson I learned. Our family is perhaps too good at being “right.”)

This idea really turns the attention outward, doesn’t it? How different it is to be in conversation with someone who asks questions rather than making pronouncements. Continue reading “Correct or Curious?”