Top 5 Facilitation Questions

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Every project and Rapid Improvement Event (RIE) is different, and they’re all challenging in their own ways. A few years ago, the University of St Andrews Lean Team were sitting down over lunch, thinking about how to make scoping sessions, in particular, easier. Or, at least, more focused.

Cue an ideas crowdsourcing session. The team had expected to come up with a couple of dozen questions, but by the end of lunch they were well over 100. The vast majority of these questions (which you can see in the image below) were open-ended, framed in such a way as to lead people to talk about the way they do their work.

The questions they identified fell neatly into 12 categories (ordered from most to least populous):

  1. Questions about planning
  2. Questions to move the discussion forwards
  3. Questions that bring perspective
  4. Questions that bring focus
  5. Questions to enable creative thinking
  6. Questions to remove barriers
  7. Questions to set goals
  8. Questions to simplify things
  9. Questions to focus on emotions
  10. Questions to bring the discussion to a conclusion
  11. Questions to enable prioritisation
  12. Questions to engage in the project

Although some questions and categories might seem odd or crazy, even a question such as “who’s to blame for this?” can be asked in a context and manner that advances the project forward.

Not wanting to leave the title question unanswered, the team conducted a quick poll to decide the top questions. The following are, in no particular order, the top five questions we think you should ask when facilitating an improvement project:

  • How does this make the University (your organisation) better (for students/customers)?
  • In a perfect world, how would this be?
  • What would you need to make this happen?
  • What will you do with the time saved?
  • If you could only do one thing, what would it be?

We think this is a great set of questions; the perfect mix between practicality and vision.

What do you think?

 

– Revised from the original (Steve Yorkstone, 2011)

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