I’ve just come across the work of Dr Sam Kaner from Community at Work on facilitation and group decision-making. Sam is a clinical psychologist whose work focus has been in organisational decision-making. His book Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making is a global top-seller. The table of contents is here. Frankly, it has the most boring graphic design in the world, but already in the first section I’ve found some very helpful stuff for a current project. The book itself is pretty much Facilitation 101, which means that it is full of the bleeding obvious as far as I’m concerned. However in terms of teaching a range of techniques to wannabee facilitators, it certainly covers a lots of territory. It is very systematic, so for me it will be useful in thinking more thoroughly about facilitation approaches, and in teaching facilitation to others.
So this is the bit that got me interested – thinking about how groups move from brainstorming to a shared result and why they get stuck in the middle. You’ll have to get the book to find out more about this. Suffice to say that there are a number of process issues in the middle of going from familiar options to new possibilities to group consensus around a preferred way to proceed.
Kane has worked on a bunch of books and there’s a great set of free downloads here.
Kane is part of the Collaborative Leaders Network. This is super-interesting as they provide a range of frameworks for approaching different kinds of group decision-making, from community transformation to collaboration incubators to a “collaboration strategy grounded in Polynesian values”. Here is an overview. There are free downloads explaining each approach.
Here’s a taste of Sam Kaner from Youtube.