When looking for new directions, opportunities, products or stimulus past experience is a great place to start and combining shared past experiences of the many (a facilitators forte!) to gather, build on and reform and reshape new possibilities provides a quick and rich harvest for many organisations. To explore further and look for fresh fields of thinking there are many creativity tools to enhance and excite the senses and possiblities. Nothing however is more powerful for enriching thinking than a climate that supports and encourages freedom and exploration of ideas without fear of judgement, ridicule or put down.
Recent research suggests that ideas have less than eight seconds before they are criticised! This is the antithesis of the climate that facilitators and meeting convenors need to create. Facilitators have responsibility for establishing the climate required for the objectives at hand, if it´s idea generation then a few simple ground rules should help including: Suspend Judgement; Use Yes AND to build on an idea rather than yes or no BUT; Listen as an advocate for all ideas; Balance Advocacy with Inquiry using open questions such as; ´ Tell me more about your idea? What is is about that particular solution that excites you most? If we were to take that course of action what do you see as the benefits to us? Where did your inspiration for the idea come from? Invite people to put themselves in the shoes of the proposer and share in the passion and excitement around an idea. Any or all of these will provide an inquiring supportive environment to explore and understand more fully the ideas that are emerging and encourage more.
The next challenge for the facilitator is to ensure that the group having asked the question is attentive to LISTEN to the response! I don´t have the research but I´m guessing that people might tune out after 8 seconds too so raise this to the surface and invite people to give the attention that they would like to receive.
In 2014 facilitate the freedom to generate and explore ideas and put phrases like: ´It wont work becasue....´; ´We´ve tried that before......´ ´I cant see how that would work...´ to rest. Now there´s an idea!