Facilitating with Rabbits

Rabbiting on! Top Tips for Handling Rabbits!

Meetings are full of wild life and rabbits are no exception! Here are two scenarios; Firstly: You are facilitating a meeting and a participant in the meeting is rabbiting on - other participants are looking at each other and most likely at you as if to say ´can´t you do something to stop this?´ Secondly you are in a meeting trying to identify high level strategy and people are intent on going down rabbit holes, delving deeper and opening up more avenues. Can you help them? 

Yes you can! Here are two strategies you can use from the facilitators toolbox; Let´s imagine it is ´Chris´ who is in need of support - we say ´support´ because if things continue the participants are likely to stop listening to Chris and when Chris tries to offer information/insight or perspective later in the meeting they will most likely switch off to that too. 

1. Firstly ask yourself: What could have been done during the meeting set up to try to anticipate or prevent such behaviour? Establishing group norms at the outset of the meeting which include ´Monitor my participation´ Don´t hog! Don´t Hide!´ is a call to all participants to recognise the balance they need to strike and allows you the facilitator to intervene to support the norm ´Chris, let me stop you there, i have noted your points x, y and z on the flip chart and in the interest of widening participation let me open up the discussion and invite others to contribute´

2. Secondly ask yourself; Why are they dominating discussion? - are they an authority on the issues at hand, are they senior to others and might feel compelled to be speaking, are they junior and trying to make their mark, are other participants reluctant to speak - in all instances they may feel under pressure. Use techniques such as pairs or threes to invite discussion in smaller groups then collect feedback/input from each group in order to build understanding in a managed way. Acknowledge different levels of knowledge and authority in the room and use techniques which support or balance - individual capture, group work, anonymity and use rounds to collect and invite feedback.

Tips for Avoiding Going Down Rabbit Holes - this is the proverbial going into great depth  and spending inordinate amounts of time sharing information, burrowing down into layers and channels of exploration often becoming more chaotic, at a time in the when all is required is definition,  a strategic overview, a birds eye view. The analogy for a facilitator is akin to mixing all the steps of problem solving in one basket, wearing all of the six hats or finally all the steps in appreciative enquiry, Define, Discover, Dream, Design and allowing the group to go where they like. As a facilitator your skills in structuring thinking and helping a group to work systematically can prevent the frustration of going down rabbit holes and ultimately getting lost or at least frustrated in there! Flagging up the stage you are working at and the risks can help a group to manage themselves and each other when they begin to stray into detail. ´We are starting to go down rabbit holes - let´s keep it high level´.

Facilitation Skills Workshop - June 26th & 27th 2018

If you are interested to get better at dealing with group dynamics, meeting design or selecting tools and methods to support structured thinking and participation then our two day facilitation skills workshop will do just that. If you are looking to improve then why not join our next open workshop June 26/27th 2018 - click here to find out more.

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