Based on a story [Richard Smith, Principal Facilitator with Leadership Strategies] told about the E.L.M.O. (“Enough, Let’s Move On”) cards, I decided to give them a try in a workshop that I facilitated with system users from all over the world. Some of them tended to be quite long winded and would tell “war stories” nonstop. I was a bit reluctant to introduce the Elmo cards, because I didn’t want to stifle participation if the cards were used incorrectly or too frequently. However, I took the risk and it paid off.
I received a lot of compliments on how effective of a tool it was and how it really helped to keep the group focused and on time. I had them laminated so that I can use them over and over. Depending on the size of the group, I usually say that we move an item to the issues list if I see more than ‘x’ number of Elmo cards being raised.
One of the biggest crowd pleasers has been having the group break up into teams to do brainstorming (or information gathering in general) using the Post-It notes for every item, then collecting and categorizing each with the entire group. It’s extremely effective, efficient, and most importantly, energizing.
Another key tool is the use of the issues list. Prior to [The Effective Facilitator] course, I used to have a “parking lot”, but never took it to the level of categorizing each item as either and issue, an action or a decision. Too often, parking lots were never really emptied or dealt with. Beginning each day by reviewing the issues list and then categorizing every item has been a great help in ensuring that participants feel that their voices have been heard and are confident that their issues will be actively addressed.
One of my biggest personal learnings (I might even go as far as to call it a paradigm shift), is that I constantly wrote what I heard and not at all what was being said. Not only was I doing this, but I was making major changes in order to make comments/input align with what I personally wanted to present…..all without realizing it. Since [the] course, I have completely broken this bad habit and the results have been absolutely amazing.
I receive 10 times the amount of input from participants from what I used to, and I capture what the real issues are, versus that I “feel” they might be!
ExxonMobil Global Services Company