國際引導者協會理事主席貝恩（Kimberly Bain）專訪, 原文出自於EMBA雜誌2015年5月345期
貝恩是國際引導者協會（International Association of Facilitators）理事主席。她是加拿大人，擁有二十幾年豐富的引導經驗，曾協助許多企業、政府單位，以及非營利組織進行各種會議的引導和衝突調解。
因此，這是透過架構問題（frame the question）來思考，讓大家的討論有共同的方向。在這個前提下，有些人就算提出一些瘋狂的想法，也不是什麼壞事。因為有時候，這可以顛覆思考，也會激發其他人的想法。
Facilitating good decisions
Interview with Kimberly Bain, Chair of the International Association of Facilitators
When the meeting opened everyone was silent, the discussion was disconnected, participants insisted on their own agendas and decision-making became fiery. Meetings today are often a scene like this. Facilitation can help solve this problem.
“As today’s business world becomes increasingly complex, facilitation becomes increasingly essential for making good decisions,” remarks Kimberly Bain, Chair of the International Association of Facilitators.
With facilitative leadership skills business executives can support teams to generate ideas, build consensus and enhance participation.
Kimberly is Canadian and has over twenty years of facilitation experience assisting companies, government bodies and non-profit organizations using many different types of meeting facilitation and conflict mediation methods.
The following questions and answers are a few excerpts from EMBA magazine’s interview with Kimberly Bain.
Q: When executives ask meeting participants if they have any comments, their questions are often met with total silence. How would facilitation make a difference for this situation?
A: Asking for information, advice and facilitation are not the same thing. If you ask everyone “how’s your business doing?” that’s asking for information. If you ask “I want to do something a certain way, what do you think about that?” that’s asking for advice. A facilitator would say “this is the problem we’re faced with, please everyone contribute your ideas so that we can find a way to solve it.”
Facilitative leaders are distinctive because they wouldn’t say their own point of view first, but would instead first listen to the group member’s views and try to stimulate their thoughts and opinions. A facilitative leader understands that better decisions come from a group’s collective wisdom.
Relatively junior members of the meeting would have difficultly saying “General Manager, I think your idea is wrong, I have a better way.” But those junior members may have an idea that would lead to a good solution. So we should create a way for group members to express themselves.
Of course leaders can’t always use a facilitative leadership style, sometimes a decision must be made right away. A leader could use three different styles in a meeting, each one with a different function: to collect information, to seek advice, or to facilitate discussion. The style used depends on the purpose of the discussion.
Q: There’s people in meetings who are simply accustomed to not say a word. How do you facilitate them to speak?
A: Not everyone has the same style. Some people would give a response as soon as you ask them a question; some would first lean back and think a moment before speaking; and some need to write the question down before giving their opinion. So your approach should be appropriate to everyone’s style. If you simply throw out a question, hoping that someone will give their opinion, you’ll soon discover that from start to finish you’ve heard the same five people’s voice and no one else in the group has spoken.
Your different approaches are needed to talk with different people. There are many different techniques to use as well. For instance, after asking a question, invite everyone to write down their answers and then to say what they’ve written. This will satisfy both those who want to say an answer right away and those who need time to think.
Q: Sometimes when facilitating discussion, participants can have ideas that are either unrealistic or unrelated. How do you keep discussion atmosphere positive, productive, and not derailed by such comments?
A: How to ask questions is an important principle. If you ask an open question such as “how should we do something?” You’ll get very divergent responses: some people will respond with a lot of detail while others may have their head in the clouds. This makes it difficult to bring everyone together.
A question needs to be designed to facilitate and to focus a discussion. For example, if the meeting theme is “how should the company apply the new factory safety regulations” a facilitative leader would explain that “the government has these new regulations which we must implement within three months, within our budget and based on these three principles; so which items should we prioritize implementing first?”
By framing the question you allow everyone’s discussion to have a shared direction. In this context, some people may raise crazy ideas, which is fine. Because sometimes this can turn our thinking around and inspire other people’s ideas.
Q: Brainstorming and creativity are important, but how can a company choose which idea to use? Is there a technique to help make better decisions?
A: You can begin with dialogue, by asking everyone “what can we do to achieve compliance with the new regulations within our budget and schedule?” Then ask further questions to gradually focus on a few options. This is a process of moving the group from divergent to convergent thinking.
Don’t let the meeting stay in a divergent stage and let leaders take the information away and make decisions on their own. When that happens the group has no way of knowing the considerations that went into the decision-making. The process of moving from divergent to convergent thinking will also enable smoother implementation. Following divergence, leaders ought to help the group converge their thinking by, for example, classifying the options, identifying the advantages and disadvantages of each, and then gradually developing the thinking towards implementation.
Q: How is meeting consensus built?
A: Consensus is not a point, it’s a continuum. A low degree of consensus would be like a majority vote of fifty percent plus one, whereas a high degree of consensus would be when everyone agrees one hundred percent. Most meetings need something in between the two extremes. This requires people to accept a decision that is not their favorite. If an organization wants to achieve a hundred percent consensus, they would need to revise their solution to the extent that everyone can accept it, but that’s often not the best solution. For instance to get everyone to agree to every word of a mission statement would take a lot of time and may not produce the best result. So as long as everyone can say that they accept the statement’s basic direction or meaning, then that’s good enough.
See the complete article at EMBA magazine edition 345 “運用引導，激盪好決策”