stormwater utility task force

How does GROUP FACILITATION let every voice be heard?

Within any group, whether a non-profit board, a management group in a business or a government task force, there are a range of personalities and communication styles.  If a group of people meeting to make a decision or discuss a problem are left to their own devices, a few of the strongest personalities will dominate the conversation and roll over most of the others en route to a decision.  With only a small minority of the voices heard (and often the same old ideas and ways of thinking), bad decisions or decisions lacking in innovation can be made.  Even with a Group Facilitator present, these same folks will try to run the show.  However, there are techniques I have learned doing Group Facilitation for more than 25 years to let the strong personalities still have their say, while making sure that everyone else can participate, too.

As the neutral in charge of the group process, it is important not to directly shut down the dominant personalities.  This typically results in a direct confrontation between those people and the Group Facilitator (something to be studiously avoided).  I always acknowledge them and their ideas, but make sure, from the beginning, that they know that others will also speak.  At the first group meeting, the group approves ground rules that mention equal air time for all, respect for others and avoiding interruptions.  The ground rules are then posted so that I can later remind the group of them when they are later ignored (and they always will be).  I always use a flip chart to publically record everyone’s contributions/ideas/issues.  Then, when a dominant personality tries to […]

By |July 16th, 2013|Group Facilitation Denver|Comments Off on How does GROUP FACILITATION let every voice be heard?
  • storm-drain adams county group facilitation
    ADAMS COUNTY STORMWATER UTILITY TASK FORCE: MAY 22, 2013 – SEPTEMBER 25, 2013 ADAMS COUNTY STORMWATER UTILITY TASK FORCE: MAY 22, 2013 – SEPTEMBER 25, 2013

    ADAMS COUNTY STORMWATER UTILITY TASK FORCE: MAY 22, 2013 – SEPTEMBER 25, 2013

ADAMS COUNTY STORMWATER UTILITY TASK FORCE: MAY 22, 2013 – SEPTEMBER 25, 2013

In response to public outcry over the imposition of a stormwater fee on landowners in unincorporated Adams County, on April 1, 2013, the Adams County Board of County Commissioners passed a resolution creating the Stormwater Utility Task Force.  A diverse group of 22 citizens were selected from people who answered the call for volunteers for the Task Force.  The Task Force has been charged with developing recommendations to be given to the County Commissioners concerning alternatives to the fee as it is presently constituted.  The County Commissioners placed no restrictions on the scope or content of the recommendations they expect.

I was selected to be the contract Task Force facilitator for its eight (and perhaps up to ten) two-hour meetings.  The schedule for these meetings and the topics for each are given at the Adams County website given above.  Two of the meetings have already occurred (on 5/22/13 and 6/12/13).

The first introductory meeting allowed the Task Force members to be greeted and then briefed by the County Commissioners on the expectations for the group.  The members all introduced themselves, and I introduced myself to them as the facilitator of the Task Force.  A discussion of the various members’ questions and concerns followed.  I described the concept of consensus decision making to the group, and they agreed that they would use that method to arrive at group decisions.  Then, the members considered a general set of twelve ground rules I proposed to them and discussed tailoring them specifically to this Task Force by adding a rule number thirteen about the role of non-member observers.  The group arrived at […]

By |June 24th, 2013|Group Facilitation Denver|Comments Off on ADAMS COUNTY STORMWATER UTILITY TASK FORCE: MAY 22, 2013 – SEPTEMBER 25, 2013