Facilitating team of 15 for common vision

This topic contains 4 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Joanna Adamska 1 year, 1 month ago.

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     Joanna Adamska 

    Hi there! Recently I had a chance to facilitate team of 15 members to create common vision and mission. There comes the challenge: table of 15 is quite hard to facilitate (lenght of sharing part, discussion moderation is challenging to keep high energy and interest level). On the other hand dividing team into smaller groups seemed to me not proper practice, as the purpose was to have ONE common vision, to know each other better etc. Important words were “toghether, one team”. Therefore I decided to run one table but I still wonder if I could do it differently – I would appreciate your view and experience. Thanks! Joanna

     Eli De Friend 

    Dear Joanna,
    In your profile, you list yourself as being a participant, while in your post you say that you were the facilitator. As I understand it, you were trained by Robert Rasmussen. I am sure that he can give you better advice than I can.

    That being said, the simple answer to your question is to work with multiple tables of fewer participants and then consolidate the findings/output through the sharing of stories of shared models.

    Perhaps you would also like to share your concerns with Melissa Dinwiddie who posted a similar question yesterday. Am I being too presumptuous in assuming that the challenges of handling groups larger than 10 people is covered in your standard facilitator training?

    Please read Sebastian Simand’s reply to Melissa about having what he calls a “Pleno” table where individual tables’ outputs are shared/published.

    I usually get all participants to move round the room and listen to the stories of the shared models of each table. Irrespective of the context, this is always appreciated. When we try to cut this element out in order to save time, our clients always say that they would prefer to do more listening to their colleagues rather than doing more building and talking at their individual tables.

    With larger groups, beyond 15 people, I think all experienced facilitators would agree with me in suggesting that you work with a co-facilitator. In fact, a co-facilitator is ALWAYS recommended, as long as roles are clearly defined and communicated.

    Kind regards,


     Joanna Adamska 

    Dear Eli, thank you for thoughts and tips, they all are important to me. I have experience with multiple tables and concept works well, althought I really feel the difference if team (people working toghether, not only group of people)can work at one table – I was hoping for some non-standard solutions:). I’m determined trying to find “close to ideal” envoirement for my Clients, where cooperation and co-creations is extremely important (process, not only outcome). Discussions are great but I believe it could be more…
    Thank you once again for valuable comments!
    Kind regards,

     Eli De Friend 

    In 2009, we ran a 2.5 day workshop for the Geneva Office of the United Nations Development Program. Each unit had to develop their work plan for the following year. Most of the teams were small enough to sit at a single table, but one of the teams had about 10 members present. So we split them into two tables more or less next to each other (so that cross-table fertilization and joke sharing could occur), and then towards the end of the shared build process, the two tables were pushed together and the two shared models were blended/merged into one mega-model that represented the vision of the whole unit. This was exceptional.
    Usually, we just work with separate tables and then run a story-sharing session. The most enriching approach is to have table hosts (à la World Café) and then all other table members are researchers (or “spies”). The researchers then visit the other tables (where they were not sitting) to listen to the stories of those tables and gather valuable insights (“steal” ideas”) to enrich their own model.
    We run this process about 3 times, so no one gets to hear all of the stories directly, but between all of the researchers from a single table, they will have all of the necessary knowledge. They then relate the key learnings from the other tables to their colleagues (especially the hosts who were busy presenting their own table’s story, while the researchers were spying.

    The other process, which is a little more formal and exhaustive, but less fun and ultimately less practical with really huge groups, is to have everyone traipse around the workshop room in unison listening to each story in turn.

    Good luck in finding your really creative solution.

    All the best,


     Joanna Adamska 

    Dear Eli,
    Thank you so much for sharing this story with me – it’s a great inspiration. Actually I’m going to test “rotating” tables or mixing groups from task to task.
    Best regards,

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