Facilitating within a Group Structure

By on / Negotiation Skills

Consider the dilemma faced by Joe, the vice president of semiconductor technology at one of the largest computer companies in the world. He is also the chair of an alliance made up of representatives from six other large companies. The group works together to develop and acquire certain production technologies. The group also second-guesses every move Joe makes, and has recently split into two warring factions after months of difficult negotiations. After complaining about the situation for many weeks, Joe decides to enlist the help of an outside professional facilitator.

A professional facilitator works with a group to structure an agenda; sets and enforces consensus-building ground rules, and; captures, in writing, a fair and accurate summary of negotiated outcomes

Joe was hesitant about bringing in Claire, a professional facilitator, to the meetings. He didn’t want to appear incompetent, weak or lose control of the group. Claire clearly defined her role as a facilitator with the group. Over time the meetings became much more productive and members started asking Claire for training to be facilitators at their own companies. Other alliance members even made a point of congratulating Joe for having the insight to hire Claire!

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