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Facilitating Group Effectiveness

“Accurate information is a key part of motivation.” - from Managing Up, Managing Down

“Mary Ann, I want to thank you again for not only saving the day but for helping us exceed our expectations for the retreat. At first, the challenges seemed overwhelming and it was hard to find a basis for optimism... but one needs look no further than last weekend to find a very solid reason to be hopeful about the future! You were brilliant!"
—Chair, Preservation Vision

Many organizations offer facilitation services. Some are much more effective than others. The Allison Group’s approach makes a significant difference. Advance work, clarity of intention, structuring, appropriate methods, and—most of all—genuine respect for the participants are some of the essential elements.

Process and Meetings that Make a Difference

  • Pre-program work that enables participants to develop a shared platform
  • Processes that engage participants so that they work together long after “the event”
  • An end-to-end process that begins before the facilitation meetings and continues after them
  • Uses a wide variety of facilitation technologies based on decades of experience and the latest research
  • A facilitator that brings balance—not an agenda—into the room, responding to the group not a fixed plan
  • Attention to the environment so that it supports participant engagement


  Common Goals for Faciliatation   Common Participant Goals
To generate ideas and plans that work

I wanted to thank you. There was an amazing amount of material presented and a great deal to think about. The group was impressed. Thank you again, I know this will have an impact. — President and Creative Director, Russell Design Associates

To contribute to ideas in a setting that brings confidence

I was surprised, frankly, at how well you fit into our culture. You felt like one of us, with different, much-needed skills and some external perspective.
— Business Head, Research and Development, Hewlett-Packard

To work on difficult issues

I would absolutely be a reference for The Allison Group. Thanks for helping us do some difficult work together.
— Chief, Management and Administrative Support Staff, U.S. Government Department.

Not to feel cooped up, embarrassed (no group hugs), or like they are wasting their time

I can't tell you how FABULOUS that meeting was…. Even though I was tired from the long work week, I left feeling buoyed and happy to be a part of this organization.
— Member Board of Directors, Dancing in the Streets

To reenergize a group in tough times

I cannot thank you enough for all the work you've done for us and the impact it has already had on board and staff. Over and above all the specific benefits (clearer direction, beginning steps of a plan...) is the fact that we all feel less demoralized and more hopeful and excited about the organization and its future.
— Executive Director, Dancing in the Streets

 
To save time as a result of facilitation

You saved us months. Thanks to your breadth of knowledge and adeptness, you came in with less notice than anyone could imagine and effectively moved us forward." — Member Steering Committee, Preservation Vision NYC

 

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Let The Allison Group facilitate your next meeting.

To improve or create the ability to work together without being directed

Unlike the previous year, where it took 6 months for people to work together, as a result of your program, this year people got to know each other and started working together right away. — Director, Treasury Executive Institute, U.S. Department of the Treasury

 
     


Examples of Faciliatation Services


Let The Allison Group facilitate your World Café!

Pioneered by Juanita Brown, a World Café is a fun and engaging way to bring different view points together to solve a particular organizational question. Literally designed to look and feel like a Café environment, The Allison Group can facilitate the event to engage everyone involved and to keep the conversation on track.

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"I just wanted to let you know that almost every person from last night called me to let me know how useful the session was. Thank you so much for everything." —Historic Districts Council

Consulting

The Allison Group can provide custom seminars to support strategic planning and organizational fitness with tailored management and R & D briefings on the shape of social evolution, modeling groups, and the specifics of the current systemic change in society and community.

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Facilitation can be useful in a wide variety of situations. Here are some examples of projects we’ve worked on:

  • For a global technology company, facilitated discussions whether or not to continue or close down an expensive line of research which shows promise but is not on target
  • For a government agency with a long history of internal competition during a change of administration, enabled 15 senior managers to create a vision and supporting principles which they used to shape the transition
  • For a visionary taskforce, brought together emerging leaders to create not only a shared platform but also sufficient connection so that the group became self starting.
  • For a global financial institution after two rounds of demoralizing layoffs, worked with the remaining team to mourn and move on, reconfiguring their approach and reigniting enthusiasm.
  • For a group of social entrepreneurs, helped them to coalesce around a clear mission and vision and to develop the foundation which enabled them to group their fledgling organization into a well-funded force for change.

Groups of Purpose
(also known as communities of practice, communities of interest, networks, federations, etc)

In today's world, many complex problems have outpaced the ability of bureaucratic organizations to manage them. Instead, groups of purpose, in which people are linked not—as they have been in the past—by geography or being a member of a bureaucratically-structured organization but solely by the purpose of the group, are emerging. These new groups have powerful capabilities but also face special challenges.

Although many organizations know that they need to support groups of purpose—because they work in a completely different social structure—they often inadvertently make mistakes or apply success measures that are not appropriate.

As you learn identify different group types and capabilities, you become equipped to make choices about the most effective approach for tackling certain kinds of problems.

Armed with an understanding of the differences and, therefore, where the likely points of conflict between bureaucracy and groups of purpose will be, you develop ways to support groups of purpose.