In writing about facilitation and how it seems that some people want to make this simple concept into a horribly complex pedagogical framework understood only by experts (like me, but certainly not approaching the issues like me!), I was reminded of a quip and then looked it up for the whole source.
I remember reading Dune (by Frank Herbert) while on a 9-month solo car camping trip around the US back in 1977. I was acting out the definition of footloose and fancy-free in those days, for sure, since I had no plans, no timeline, no specific destination. Just me and my car and my tent and camping gear. Awesome journey all over the US and reading a few books in the quiet evenings.
Herbert’s Dune Trilogy was an outstanding set of science fiction works, one that took the basic characters over time and across The Universe. It was a lot about personal strengths and leadership and dealing with adversity and politics. And one of the repeated phrase in the first book and in the trilogy was this one:
The whole litany of the Bene Gesserit for building their personal strengths and resolve was actually,
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
Pretty neat mantra, I think, and a really good thing to tell yourself when you are faced with a challenge or challenges. Allow the fear to pass over and through and then reflect on it to learn. Personal growth from managing fear effectively.
I am reminded of this as we talk about facilitation of workplace improvement and the obvious lack of real involvement and engagement in the workplace.
The concepts and understanding of the related issues are pretty clear and there are some strong Big Ideas about what should be done. Jim Cliffton, CEO at Gallup and the surveyor of millions of workers simply says that there are 7,000,000 bad bosses out there who should be fired because they cannot demonstrably manage people very well.
(This is not me talking for him — see this link for what he said and how he was framing this issue of leadership and management practices in everyday organizations.)
So, a solution? Yes. Mine is a simple one designed to get things rolling and change the language of improvement. Mine is an easy, bombproof way to get workers talking with supervisors about issues and opportunities for workplace improvement. Mine is one that anyone can do without a lot of training.
Have a meeting and use this simple illustration:
We suggest that you:
- Show the Square Wheels One cartoon.
- Play with the general ideas people think of and share.
- Link the ideas and process to the organizational issues of the group
- Play with listing organizational Square Wheels of the workplace
- Break down and separate the list into least difficult and most difficult.
- Break easier ones into less costly and more costly.
- Ask for volunteers to work up the idea or to try to implement a solution or solutions.
- Provide organizational resources as needed (time, money, support, power)
- Repeat the cycle building on successes.
Facilitation is not rocket science, although rocket scientists certainly use facilitation when they are brainstorming new ideas or looking for issues or problems or trying to define different ways of accomplishing difficult tasks that need a team-based solution.
Remember the movie Apollo 13 with the issue of the square filter needing to fit into the round hole: (Watch this 90 second YouTube clip by clicking on Tom Hanks’ image below). Pretty cool scene, and a real and urgent problem solving situation faced by the response team:
The facilitation is easy. Share the problem, share the tools and framework, and ask a group of people to put things together. In the case of YOUR people working in your organization, consider using our simple Square Wheels One illustration and cheap facilitation tools to create your Apollo 13 problem and ask your people how to help each other make things better.
Find my short screencast about how to use Square Wheels as a tool for improvement by clicking on the image below:
We help people make workplace improvements,
For the FUN of It!
Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
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Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.