Group Process Tools for Team Meetings

Group Process Tools for Team Meetings

Occasionally, your team may need to gather and generate ideas and plans for process improvements as a group. These meetings are successful when the participants have identified business problems, come up with better ways of doing things, and agreed on a plan for action. Unfortunately, some meetings conclude with key issues unresolved. A well-structured meeting is a critical starting point.  But when your team really needs to dig deep for a solution, then it helps to have a few extra tools in your facilitation tool-belt. Otherwise, no matter how good your intentions, the meeting may devolve into discussion loops, silence, or simply return to old ideas. Here are three helpful group process tools for getting at problems and coming up with solutions.   Tool #1: Sequential questioning This technique is useful when you need to uncover important information as a group. In this process, the facilitator decides on the main topic and prepares a set of questions in advance.  These questions should progress from broad ideas down to the specific, operational level. Each question should challenge assumptions and prompt detailed discussion. For example, if the topic is how to improve customer services, the first question could simply be: “Why aren’t our target customers buying more of our product?”  Follow-up questions may focus on specific challenges that you anticipate will come up in response to the first question – each new question digging deeper than the one before. A good method is to write one question at the top of a flip chart and then ask team members to contribute their thoughts. Write down their responses and compile lists under...
Using the Decision Matrix

Using the Decision Matrix

When your team is having a hard time setting priorities and making decisions in the face of too many options, a simple tool can help you to organise your ideas and focus on those that deliver the biggest impact with the least amount of effort. The decision matrix is designed to evaluate ideas that are most likely to offer the best outcomes. It is a very easy way of bringing more objectivity to the decision-making process. What leaders like about it is that it helps them to judge very different proposals against the same set of criteria. When using this tool, start by clearly defining the categories in the grid to avoid excessive debate later on about where to place different items. There should be four main categories: easy to do and yields a big improvement; easy but only a small overall improvement; difficult and yields a big improvement; and difficult but just limited progress. After debating ideas, criticisms, suggestions and possible solutions, assign them to one of the four boxes. On examining the matrix, it will be clear that items in the first category should be implemented immediately. Those in the second category also deserve a high priority. More planning may be needed for ideas that fall in the third category but there should be no delay in getting started. Anything that falls into the fourth category can be forgotten. The decision grid helps to sort out disparate ideas effectively and provides the basis for an action plan at the same time. It also encourages participation and helps build consensus among the team because everyone gets the chance...