Collaborative team conversation

How does your team communicate?

How does their conversation flow? 

How effective is your leadership in facilitating the conversation?

In this article, we will explore the previously recorded conversation between facilitators and coaching experts who lead their teams to collaborative conversations, followed by a series of questions and answers that flowed from that conversation.

The Art & Science of Facilitation: The Book Tour

During the months of January and February 2021, TeamCatapult hosted a 5-part series Virtual Book Tour to celebrate the publishing of The Art & Science of Facilitation. 

We invited industry leaders, agile coaches, expert facilitators and TeamCatapult faculty to have conversations about facilitation

One of the Virtual Book Tour stops happened on January 28, 2021 with guests Ahmed Sidky, Deborah Grayson Riegel, Lyssa Adkins & Tricia Broderick. 

The title for that conversation was Leadership is a conversation: “The Importance of Facilitating Collaborative Conversations.”

The replay of their conversation can be played right here! 

Wasn’t that a great and insightful conversation about facilitation?

This Collaborative Conversation Sparked Questions!

While the conversation flowed between these experts and a great many topics were discussed, there were some questions that came into the chat! Our guest expert panel attempted to answer as many questions as possible, however, they were limited by time.

We’ve gathered the unanswered questions and asked the panel participants to help us answer them for you, our readers. 

Conversations That Connect: What’s In A Name?

Question: There is such a huge difference between ‘conversation’ (as in making conversation) and this type of conversation, where we make actual connections and create some sort of magic… I’m looking for a good word that signifies the second type. Is conversation ‘enough’?

Answer: I call it skillful or generative (by Otto Shrumer) reenacting the same thing versus where new ideas are emerging.

Answer: I don’t have a single word.  For me, I summarize this as a space where connection, trust, collaboration, and engagement produces new possibilities (i.e. magic).

How To Have a Conversation About Bias in the Workplace

Question: Sometimes, it is not just about the color of your skin. Traditional management is autocratic. The top management does not even want to hear the insights coming from subordinates. As a subordinate, how will you handle this?

Answer: There are many factors that can create bias in the workplace.  In addition, there are many legacy “best practices” that impede high performing teams focused on knowledge work.  Personally, I try to never view anything I’m doing as “managing up”.  The minute I have the mindset of this, chances are high that the results will not be favorable to anyone involved.  I try to focus on being transparent and vulnerable with the leadership experiments/insights.  With this approach, I’m reaching out for partners in feedback and participation with my experiments/insights.  

How Should Leaders Learn to Facilitate? 

Question: Traditional Leaders often experienced that they had to be strong, know it best and decide at the end. To facilitate it like you suggest Marsha, a different stance would be needed, right? How and where do you advise this should come from? Inner work maybe? Economic pressure from competitors? Joy and the will to move on, vastly…maybe breaking things?

Answer: It does take inner work and the doorway will be varied. A different perspective for people around that leader to give space to learn it. We have to give them space to grow and to change habits. Leaders will be transparent.  People give leaders permission to not have the answer, which can lead to leaders allowing the folks to find the answer as well. It’s okay to say “I don’t know.”

What is the Value of Facilitation?

Question: Please share an example of an idea or story that you have found useful to introduce the value of facilitation to a skeptical decision maker.

Answer: Talk about what the leader wants to achieve.  How’s it look?  How to set it up?  What’s the best that could possibly occur?  The more we expose and look for approval, the more we invite skepticism.  “Our focus today is to trust what’s happening…” Give the right to pass (let adults be adults): choice and freedom.

Answer: One time, I highlighted the various challenges the team was facing in making a decision that was collective and lasting.  For example, the person who didn’t participate but vetoed later, the person who consumed most of the time talking, or the person who felt completely ignored.  All of these challenges (and many more), hinder the ability to become a high performing team to deliver the best results.  As this is the shared goal and people can observe the challenges, I offered to try a different approach…facilitation, to engage all the voices effectively. In this example, facilitation training was brought in quickly after.  

How Can You Learn or Enhance Your Facilitation Skills?

If you are intrigued, excited or eager to get started to learn or enhance your facilitation skills, you’ve come to the perfect place! 

TeamCatapult has been training facilitators for years! 

Here are several upcoming opportunities for you:

  1. Virtual Facilitation Masterclass  March 18-19, 2021
  2. Agile Team Facilitation Workshop  March 22-26, 2021
  3. Advanced Facilitation Workshop  April 28-May 5, 2021

Join us for one, or all, Virtual Workshops!

These workshops are a great stepping stone to our cohort!

Learn more about our Coaching Agility from Within ‘A Cohort Journey to Masterful Agile Team Coaching’ and apply to join in May 2021. 



About Marsha Acker

Marsha Acker | CPF, CPCC, PCC, ICE-AC, ICAgile Coaching Track Co-Founder, CEO of TeamCatapult, LLC

Marsha coaches leaders and teams, who want to work in a more agile manner and lead change in their organization. She is a Certified Professional Facilitator (CPF), Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC), a Professional Certified Coach (PCC), and Certified Structural Dynamics Interventionist through the Kantor Institute and Dialogix. Her coach training is from Coaches Training Institute and Center for Right Relationships.

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