Tips, Videos, Handouts

Closing comments

Good Group Tips

In principle, every chance we have to hear each other’s perspectives is a chance to improve understanding and build the foundation for better decisions. Often, the most valuable comments come right at the end of a meeting or discussion. At ease with each other after conversing awhile, people are more apt to speak their hearts. The group as a whole gets to see the unity of perspectives so often present at the end of a good meeting. This is also a last chance for someone to give voice to something important.

Practical Tip: Encourage meeting participants to make closing comments just before adjourning. Build time for closing comments into every agenda. Ask each person to share a reflection about the meeting or perhaps a particular hope or concern going forward. Encourage that the comments are brief, one at a time, and open no new discussions. A prescribed order helps. Let anyone pass who wishes.

Speak your own closing comment from your heart. Take in the closing comments of others.

– Craig Freshley

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Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.

Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats

Good Group Tips

In principle, a look at strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, referred to as a SWOT analysis, is an effective way to take stock of an organization or project and the context it exists in. It is often done at the start of a strategic planning process. It provides a solid foundation to build plans on.

Practical Tip: Ask the opinion of all stakeholders or at least key stakeholders—those who stand to win and lose most from the endeavor.

Ask their opinion about strengths and weaknesses, the balance sheet, what’s good and bad about the organization or project. This is an internal, current look at things like financial gains and losses, assets and liabilities, staff capacity, board capacity, reputation, mission impact, etc. These are all things within our general control.

Also gather feedback on the external view, the look into the future. What opportunities and threats loom? This is a look at projected trends regarding market demand, supplies and personnel, policy and regulation, and other external factors that might affect the organization or project. To look at opportunities and threats is to assess things that we don’t fully control but that we need to consider.

Take stock of your organization or project by making four lists: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Discuss them as a group. Good assessment is key for good strategic planning.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.

Should facilitators make suggestions?

Excerpt from this video: “There are times when I think it’s perfectly appropriate and in fact extremely helpful to the group if the facilitator makes suggestions, makes proposals.”

What times? Craig explains in the video.

This video has captions. To see them, click CC on the video screen.

Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hi everybody! Hey it’s Craig Freshley here.

There’s a school of thought out there that a neutral facilitator should never make any kind of suggestion when facilitating a group; that all proposals, all ideas, should come from members of the group and the facilitator just manages and, well, facilitates that. I don’t subscribe to that school of thought.

First of all, let’s take a look. I think there are three types of suggestions.

One type of suggestion is purely content. “Oh, you guys are talking about where to have your annual meeting? I know this place. It’s really great. And blah blah blah.” That is a content suggestion. I think that content suggestions, by and large, are off limits for neutral facilitators.

But there are two other kinds.

Another kind is what I would call a process suggestion. So maybe we’ve designed an agenda, we are working through a decision making process, and I have an idea of a process that might serve the group better. Process suggestions, I think, are perfectly fine for a group facilitator to make. That’s what the facilitator has been hired to do; manage the process. The facilitator should be always thinking about better processes and should make suggestions accordingly that will help the group.

There’s a third kind that’s kind of in the middle.

Maybe it’s a suggestion about content but it is based not on my personal knowledge, but on what I have learned from you just now in the meeting. And I tend to think that those types of suggestions are also okay if the facilitator is being absolutely truly neutral and if that suggestion is being made based on what he or she thinks will serve the group well. “Look, I’ve been listening to you talk for an hour; I have an idea for a solution that I think might serve you well.” I think that might be okay because the solution is based on what I’ve heard you say from my neutral point of view.

There are no hard and fast rules about this. Mostly it depends on the group culture and your agreement with that group on how you’ll behave as a neutral facilitator. But I am just pointing out that there are times when I think it’s perfectly appropriate and in fact extremely helpful to the group if the facilitator makes suggestions, makes proposals.

Thanks for listening everybody. I hope this helps your group make good group decisions.

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.