When should I chart as a facilitator?

By Steve Zuieback · Posted Friday, October 26, 2012

Stop Charting and Start Listening!

Facilitators chart way too much information from group conversations. At the same time, “going visual” is extremely important under specific circumstances.

I remember a meeting of top presidents from a large global corporation. They were given a simple task – design a meeting with the CEO of the corporation to provide an overview of their 5-day leadership program. After 30 minutes of bitter struggle about who was going to lead the meeting and vigorous charting in which they plastered every square inch of wall space, they realized that nobody was actually listening or really addressing the topic – they were just charting every possible comment and they were more confused after 30 minutes than when they started the task.

5 times to chart:

1.  CIDUs: When you are giving directions to a group or covering new points that might be difficult to understand.  Michael Grinder calls these CIDUs – critical information that is difficult to understand

2.  Decisional Information: When groups have finally made a group decision or reached positions of common ground.

3.  Small Group Input to Merge Across Groups: If you break a large group into small groups and the output of the small groups need to be integrated into the large group.

4.  Managing a difficult behavior: At times you may have someone in a group who is fixed on the same point and wants to dominate the conversation. In this case, chart their concern and make sure you are specific in capturing this issue in their own words. Then use the chart as a way of managing their future input – “When looking at what you said before, is there anything we missed about your concern or point?” If not, we are going to move on.

5.  Brainstorming all the options: When you are truly brainstorming all the possible options or solutions around a key question, this is a time to chart and go visual.


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