Facilitating Powerful Organizational Conversations

There is both an art and science to facilitating powerful conversations within teams and organizations. It is very hard to "teach" the art. As Malcom Gladwell reported in the book Outliers, it takes approxiamately 10,000 hours of experience/practice to achieve mastery. To me mastery is the integration of the science and art. 

Throughout this website and my training programs I try to provide as much of the "science" as possible about leadership, systems and facilitating powerful conversations. Our books lay out the science in a logical and sequential fashion -  frameworks, strategies, processes, tools and tips. The blogs listed below focus in on single aspects of the overall framework - often around a specific process or strategy.

In today's world the most frequent reframes that I hear in organizations about why it is so challenging to convene powerful conversations has to do with two dilemmas:

  • The constantly changing nature of demands - external and internal
  • Not having enough time to plan for and facilitate such conversation

My response is often guided by the following quote:

"Dialogue, which strives to build understanding among team members,takes time. Everything else takes more time"

                                                        Rummler & Brache


Yes, dialogue and powerful conversations take time to plan, convene and conduct, however in countless situations the amount of confusion, hallucination, misalignment and lack of implementation takes so much more time to manage. The impacts of such results can end up as long term organizational patterns that not only impact a specific issue, but the whole way a team or organization operates on all issues. In fact, Zaffron and Morgan quote in their book, 3 Laws of Performance, 73% of change efforts fail and 70% of new strategies fall short of expectations because of the lack of shared meaning, alignment and commitment.

Here at Synectics all of our training programs are directed at teaching the science of leadership and facilitation and demonstrating the art. The 8-day Leadership Practices for Challenging Times program is the most extensive, providing the overall framework along with a range of facilitation processes and practices, each geared toward specific kinds of outcomes. The Master Classes are generally two days in length and more deeply address such topics as:

  • How to Handle Difficult Group Dynamics
  • Leadership Theory of Practice
  • Organizational Diagnosis: From Theory to Practice
  • Below the Green Line: From Theory to Practice
  • The Process and Strategic Inquiry Enneagram Processes
  • How to Narrow Down the Strategic Focus in a Team
  • Paired Weighting
  • Simple Sequence for the Process Enneagram
  • How to Get at Underlying Values and Beliefs
  • Aligning Leadership Through Powerful Conversations
  • 4 Step Action Planning Process
  • How to Build Team Agreements - Need Set Exercise
  • The Process Enneagram as a Conversation Process
  • Totems, Taboos and Repetitive Interactions
  • The Process Enneagram as a Conversation and Planning Process
  • Skills to Keep Your Team Focused and Productive
  • Five Finger Model of Facilitation - January 2013
  • The Importance of Outcomes
  • Five Key Skills for Effective Facilitation - Part 1: Knowing Your Outcomes
  • How to move a group from short term focus to long term planning