A common question that is asked during many of our facilitator training courses is how to conduct a problem-solving meeting successfully. Below are some steps we suggest you try.

Lay the Ground Rules

Begin by setting clear boundaries. If you want to set time limits for every contribution to give everyone a chance to speak, say so. Bring along a three-minute egg timer if you need to and use it, so they know you mean what you say. Setting unambiguous parameters right from the start will help your meeting go more smoothly.

Create the Right Atmosphere

Build an environment of mutual trust and respect. Remind attendees that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and conflicting opinions will be given equal consideration.

Break Ranks

Leave your ego at the door – and tell the other participants to do the same. Finding a solution to a problem that is negatively affecting your organization goes beyond ranks.

State the Problem Clearly

Try to express the problem in a way that is not too general nor too narrowly focused so that coming up with a solution will be all but impossible. If the problem has several aspects, concentrate on one or two that can be adequately addressed at the meeting. Assess the other aspects and schedule them to be tackled in another meeting.

Ask for Solutions

Encourage everyone to contribute their thoughts. Even if their idea targets only a portion of the problem, note it anyway. Write down everyone’s proposal on a whiteboard for all to see. As the group tries to reach a consensus, some ideas may be scratched off while two or more may be grouped together. It’s good for your attendees to see the problem being solved right before their eyes. It will give them a greater respect for the process.

Stay Focused

Don’t let anyone dominate the meeting or steer the conversation off course.

It takes an experienced facilitator to lead a problem-solving meeting successfully. Get the facilitation skills you need from any of our excellent facilitator training courses. We can also help you if you’re looking for a corporate facilitation expert or a strategic planning facilitator. If you have a full calendar or cannot get to any of our locations, we also have online facilitation training.