group facilitation

GROUP FACILITATION – Reality Checking and “Tough Love” to Help Participants Find Their Way

Several years ago I assisted a fellow conflict resolution professional in facilitating a two-day retreat of federal government safety officers and their mid-level and upper-level managers.  They had come to Denver from all around the western United States.  Their goal was to exchange ideas among the entire group (management and field staff) about resolving:

  1.  historical communication issues (mistrust and animosity between field staff and management, too much paperwork – not enough resources, ignoring field input, etc.)
  2. structural issues (empowerment of field staff, clarification of roles/responsibilities)
  3. decision-making (bottom up or top down, collaboration) and
  4. other long-standing issues resulting in ill will among everyone present.

A two-day, timed agenda was created (including brainstorming, small group dialogue, making consensual decisions and then developing an implementation plan).  There seemed to be plenty of time on this well-planned agenda to accomplish the goals of the group.  This turned out not to be the case.

During the first day, the attendees spent their time airing old grievances and venting long stifled hostilities.  This tension between the safety officers and their managers was evidenced by either tepid participation in the scheduled teambuilding and communication activities, or active sabotage of them.  The parties continually brought up old grievances or slights (perceived or real) and made it clear that they thought that certain segments of management were incompetent or ineffectual.  No real progress happened that day – in fact, the relationship between staff and management seemed to be regressing.

My co-facilitator was an employee of the same federal agency as the participants and was somewhat reluctant to intervene in any overt way.  During our debrief of the first day’s events, I suggested that, as a true outside party, I be allowed to begin the second […]

By |June 19th, 2013|Group Facilitation Denver|Comments Off on GROUP FACILITATION – Reality Checking and “Tough Love” to Help Participants Find Their Way
  • MARIJUANA medical dispensary group facilitation dispute
    GROUP FACILITATION – A Neighborhood Discussion on a Proposed Medical Marijuana Dispensary GROUP FACILITATION – A Neighborhood Discussion on a Proposed Medical Marijuana Dispensary

    GROUP FACILITATION – A Neighborhood Discussion on a Proposed Medical Marijuana Dispensary

GROUP FACILITATION – A Neighborhood Discussion on a Proposed Medical Marijuana Dispensary

In 2010, I was hired to facilitate a required neighborhood meeting about a proposed medical marijuana dispensary in a Colorado county.  The proposed business was to be located in a mixed-use residential and business area.  At that time, proprietors of such dispensaries were referred to as “caregivers”, and those purchasing marijuana were “patients”.  Marijuana was to be sold only with a doctor’s prescription.

After I opened the meeting by describing the procedure for it as mandated by the county, the applicant for the rezoning for the marijuana dispensary gave a proposal overview, including a handout giving the highlights of it.  This initial presentation took about 15 minutes.  A question and answer period of about 90 minutes followed.  I moderated this discussion and took notes (recording the neighbors’ questions and the applicant’s answers on a flip chart).  One or two supporters of the proposal had come at the behest of the applicant.  The others present were neighbors who were opposed to (or very concerned about) the operation of a medical marijuana dispensary in their neighborhood.

The whole concept of “caregivers” and “patients” was questioned extensively.  The owner of a nearby recreational facility patronized by children and young adults was very concerned that the proposed facility, if approved, could put him out of business.  Even though the stated intent was to sell only to “patients”, and the marijuana sold was to be grown on-site, there was still a general concern that product might be sold to others, including youngsters.  A typical concern relating to controversial land use proposals was raised by many in attendance – a decrease in property values.  Another strong concern among the attendees was the perceived potential for an increased crime rate.  It was also […]

By |June 10th, 2013|Group Facilitation Denver|Comments Off on GROUP FACILITATION – A Neighborhood Discussion on a Proposed Medical Marijuana Dispensary