To What End?

April 19, 2012 2 Comments

|Photo by Social Innovation Camp||

Another offering here in the spirit of simplicity and how we can get a lot from doing little things differently.  Yesterday I blogged about “working agreements” to set groups and collaborative efforts up for success.  Today, I want to lift up the power of planning meetings, convenings, and longer term collaborative endeavors with the end in mind.  Often we find that people have the tendency to jump into doing and talking about doing without working backwards from the intended outcomes.  There is an art and science to crafting “desired outcomes statements,” which we teach in our workshops (see Facilitative Leadership and Essential Facilitation), and a starting point is to imagine your stakeholders leaving said meeting or collaborative process and asking yourself:

  • What shared understanding is it important/imperative for us to have achieved?
  • What agreements is it important/imperative for us to have built?
  • What commitments do we want people to have made?
  • What products do we want/need to have generated?
  • What feeling/spirit do we want to carried forward out of this experience?


  • Cynthia Silva Parker says:

    Thanks Curtis. One thing I would add about the understandings we’re trying to reach: It’s useful for participants to know what the shared understanding will make possible.

    For instance, are we trying to understand the challenges of a project so that we can come up with ideas for addressing them? Are we trying to understand a new organizational process so that we can serve our clients better? Are we trying to understand everyone’s concerns about a new directive so that we can support one another in implementing an unpopular decision? Or, so that we can anticipate and address challenges to implementation?

    You get the idea. It’s useful for folks to know the reason the understanding is important to the group.

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