What is coordination? Get a few answers.Coordination is a voluntary process. This is a fundamental and often overlooked point. Put simply, if nobody has authority, coordination cannot be effective unless it makes sense for everybody involved, and its benefits outweigh its costs for each.We’re going to look at the skills needed for coordination – but we mean more here than “skills for coordinators” – in fact, coordination skills are important for everyone involved in the process.
[use these questions to get some inputs from the group about their own coordination roles and experiences.Note: You will often hear that people’s ‘coordination’ experiences are mostly involving inter-organizational meetings in which the primary activity is the sharing of information. Point out that while information sharing can be an important outcome of joint meetings, we are looking at coordination as something going well beyond information sharing, to the point where joint decisions are being taken to implement actions for mutual benefit.
Let the group share their own answers, and follow-up with them to encourage the sharing of practical examples of successes and failures.Key point to draw out:Coordination is about both impact/outcome and process. It fails if there is no progress towards an outcome. It also fails if the process does not encourage continued participation. If people keep coming back, and have positive and enthusiastic energy for the process over time, for instance, this is a sign of a good coordination process. If people feel the coordination process does not achieve anything to further their mutual objectives, this is a failure of impact.
[These slides presume that some initial concepts on negotiation theory have already been presented to the group in an earlier module. If this has not occurred, the presenter may need to integrate some explanation of basic negotiation concepts here.]Explain the link to negotiation: how each actor in a coordination process has a range of acceptable outcomes (e.g. Pursuing their own objectives) and this creates a “Zone of possible agreement” (or ‘zone of possible coordination’) where these ranges overlap. (You could illustrate this on a flipchart by drawing three intersecting circles, to represent the objectives or acceptable outcomes for different groups in a coordination process, and show where they overlap as the Zone of agreement.)Point out also that sometimes there are multiple objectives of different Units, in which a Unit is engaging in coordination because it wants other Units’ assistance in achieving its own objectives. This same Unit, therefore, may be willing to assist others to reach objectives that are outside their own circle, as a kind of quid pro quo.Transition to the next slide by pointing out that there is are both benefits and costs to negotiation... coordination
Ask the group for examples of benefits – show listAsk for costs – show list.Explain things that are not obvious.Ask: How can we reduce the costs? - control expectations. Target coordination effort where it is most useful (for everyone) - the party gaining the most should be prepared to “give” the most – be flexible, accept imperfections. - Make the process efficient – minimize the demands on people’s time
[TAILORING: Note that this slide will need to be modified if BATNAs have not been introduced]This slide recalls the two key concepts of the negotiation presentation: positions and interests, and BATNAs.Positions and interestsTo reach a coordinated agreements among multiple parties, you need to identify outcomes that meet each one’s interests. In the beginning of the process there may be many contradictory positions among them, so the deeper interests – and mutual interests – need to be identified through dialogue and analysis together.BATNAWhat is their outcome if they don’t coordinate with you? This is their BATNA. Does the coordination process offer them alternatives that are better?(Ask yourself the same question: “What outcome do I get if there is no coordinated outcome?”)Key point: the more we understand the interests of the others involved in the coordination process, the more likely we are to discover our mutually shared interests and work together effectively.
While going through these points, make sure to mention the common dilemma of a coordinator with “two hats”: they have a coordination function, but they also represent one institution’s interests. When this happens, the coordinator has an obligation to be transparent and objective. He/she should try to be an honest broker among others, representing the good of the collective. But when s/he feels it is essential for his own institution that he stand up for its interests, this “change of hats” should be explicit. “Stepping out of the coordinator role for the role, I need to point out some of the concerns of my institution…” S/he needs to avoid generating mistrust – so others do not perceive that the coordination function is being manipulated in the interests of one institution.
Now we’ve seen how coordination requires negotiation.But is also requires good facilitation processes. Potential collaboration that would be good for everyone is sometimes lost because of poor facilitation (see bullet points on slide)
One of the most common critiques of coordination processes is “too many meetings” “meetings where nothing gets done” “time wasted”. And sometimes, people believe that because meetings are happening, coordination is happening. (You can even find lists of meetings attended listed in log-frames as ‘indicators’ of coordination!). But “MEETING” DOES NOT EQUAL “COORDINATION.” As the previous two slides suggest, big meetings are not the best way to achieve every coordination outcome. And coordination is about achieving mutually beneficial outcomes. You must be selective about when to bring people together.Keep in mind: if 12 people each spend 3-4 hours travelling to and attending a coordination, that amounts to over 40 hours work – a full work-week? Is the expected outcome of the meeting worthy of a full work-week?
[the next two slides list common challenges in coordination processes. This first one lists general problems in the overall process (not specific to ‘meetings’) while the next slide focuses on problems that emerge in meetings.]Thinking back to the point we made about coordination as a negotiation process among multiple parties – the agendas, interests and commitments of each party to the process make a big difference to its success. When one key actor has far more power than others involved, for instance, weaker parties can be sidelined or excluded. Favoritism, bias or conflict of interests among key partners can also yield decisions that are against the interest of some partners (for instance, when one group is manipulating a coordination process only to get others to come on board with its own agenda, but without concern for theirs.) It is difficult to sustain a coordination relationship over time if these kinds of approaches are not dealt with.Sometimes a coordination process fails because key players are simply not convinced that the process is useful enough to their interests, so their participation is too weak. When participation is weak, the implementation of results is doubtful.
In a coordination meeting, we have all seen these kinds of problems:If the participants are not clear on the objective of the meeting, then no progress can be made on achieving decisions. If the group or the agenda are too large, it will not be possible to fully discuss issues or to encourage active participation by all. The agenda becomes to pressured, and nothing is given sufficient time. (A common and troubling dynamic that often emerges is that for a given agenda topic only a few people speak, and a facilitator rushes to a proposed decision by presuming that others agree.)Even though too large a meeting can fail, a meeting can also fail because key actors are not there. The group is paralyzed because it cannot move forward without the agreement or the implementation commitment of actors who are not in the room.Finally, there are many kinds of disruptive behavior which can destroy or damage the effectiveness of a meeting. Some are deliberate, but often disruptive behaviors are unintentional. Participants who are not clear about the meeting objectives will send the discussion off on a tangent. Participants who do not pay attention to time may talk too much if there is not firm facilitation. Sometimes individuals become angry or rigid or stubborn if they interpret someone else’s comments as being disrespectful. [the group could enter into further discussion of examples from their own experience, and the presenter should guide the discussion towards “best practices” – solutions that help to avoid or respond to each kind of problem that emerges.]
Effective group meetings really boil down tothree things:1. They achieve the groups objective.2. They take up a minimum amount of time.3. They leave participants feeling that a sensible process has been followed.
The Meetings ObjectiveDo you want a decision?Do you want an agreement ?Do you want to generate ideas?Are you getting status reports?Are you communicating something?Are you raising awareness ?Are you trying to influence ?Are you making plans?Are you co-ordinating ?
Focus, Focus and…FocusTo help you determine what your meeting objective is, complete this sentence:At the close of the meeting/session, I want the group to ...(Consider your next 2 meetings)
To prepare an agenda, consider the following factors:•Priorities – what absolutely must be covered?•Results – what do we need to accomplish at the meeting?•Participants – who needs to attend the meeting for it to besuccessful?•Sequence – in what order will you cover the topics?•Timing – how much time will you spend on each topic?•Date and Time – when will the meeting take place?•Place – where will the meeting take place?
Diamond Facilitation Structure Issue ID Information Immersion Opportunity Area Identification, Common Interest Innovation / Idea Generation/ Possibilities/ Proposals Criteria Setting Idea Selection/ Agreement Synthesis/Discussion Action Plan
Example: Stages in collective decisions• Sharing information• Prioritization of issues• Constructing proposals• Collective action decisions• Monitoring/evaluation
Facilitated reflectionQ1- What is facilitation ?Q2- What is expected from a Facilitator ?
Beyond a definition…• Facilitation means making all group interactions easier;• Facilitation helps groups and organisations identify and resolve difficult issues;• It provides unique solutions to unique needs;• It is based on techniques that are only appropriate or inappropriate, not right or wrong;• Facilitation is based on perception; it is not an exact science.
A GOOD FACILITATOR …• Is empathic• Is results-oriented• Masters process• Is firm on outcome• Is flexible on tactics• Is energetic• Listens actively• Is good at non-verbals• Involves everyone• Pauses and reflects
Facilitation Modes is designed highInteraction between Trainer & Participant Facilitation Modes by Sabine Bhanot and Jerome L’Host based on ideas of John Townsend and Arthur D. Little Moderating Stimulating Proposing Empowering Telling Trainer’s contribution to content Interaction among participants Ownership of outcome by participants Participants’ level of knowledge Energy in the audiencelow Time available
Facilitation Modes: definitions TELLING means transmitting information rapidly PROPOSING means selling an idea MODERATING means encouraging productive conversations STIMULATING means encouraging a richly creativeenvironment EMPOWERING means enabling the group to manage itself - My Comfort Zone -Look at the five intervention modes to see where you feel most comfortable, especially underpressure.Ask a friend or colleague for feedback.Then imagine yourself operating, at your best, in an intervention mode that is « new » foryou.Do the exercise many times until you feel at ease. Start practising in your next meeting.
What is coordination?• CO-llectively put things in ORDER• Working together towards shared goals• A voluntary process• Usually without clear vertical authority• “Facilitating different people to work together for a goal or effect”• Coordination skills are for everyone involved, not just for “coordinators.”
What sort of coordination?• Why/when do we need to coordinate? “Facilitatingdifferent people to work together for a goal or effect”• Whom do we coordinate with? But most of the time we are not coordinating others,• we are coordinating with or “coordinate with Do I “coordinate others” them. Coordination is a voluntary process others”?• What does it feel like to “be coordinated” by someone else?
• How do we know if coordination is working?• How do we know when it is not working?
Coordination is a negotiation process• Do we really all have the same objectives? “Facilitatingdifferent people to work together for a goal or effect”• Usually, each stakeholder has a different agenda But most of the time we are not coordinating others,• we are coordinating coordination only if we think We each engage in with them. Coordination is a voluntary process we will achieve more of our own objectives that way than by working alone.• It has costs and benefits
Put yourself in their shoes– Analyze each group’s interests, positions, objectives. Do we all have common interests?– What can they get out of coordinating with me/us? Can they do better than their expectations?– How can I help them achieve their objectives and get more out of this coordination relationship?
The coordinator as mediator• Since coordination is negotiation, sometimes a neutral party can help diverse groups find their zone of possible agreement.• A good coordinator encourages participation and buy-in from parties whose absence would obstruct others.• A coordinator helps parties look behind their positions and identify interests that might be shared with others.• A coordinator uses a problem-solving approach to overcome obstacles to agreement.
Coordination as facilitation and cooperation• Sometimes coordination fails to produce results, even when the parties involved have shared objectives and would all benefit from jointly coordinating their efforts. Opportunities are wasted.• Why?• Process problems. – Poor management of the process – Bad meetings, – Wasted time – Pointlessly obstructive behavior…
Meetings or no meetings?• Coordination does not aim to meet• It aims to achieve action and change.• A meeting is just a tool - to be used only when it is the right tool to get the job done.
Problems in coordination• Hierarchy and uneven power relationships• Favoritism or bias• Conflict of interest• Weak participation
Meeting problems• Unclear objectives• Group size• Agenda size/complexity• Lack of key actors• Disruptive behavior
Dealing with difficult participantsWhat is a difficult participant ?How to deal with them ? Group dynamics Acknowledge receipt
Acceptance Group Dynamics and behavior Committed Golden Torn Triangle apart Rebellious Opposing Passive Grouchy Antagonism
Dealing with dysfunctional behavior- Late comers- Mobile phones abusers- Side talks- Pax having an argument- « Oysters »- « Clowns »- « Dinosaurs »- DoodlersYou name it…
Acknowledge receiptThe ‘acknowledge receipt’ is a tool which enables the facilitator to face attacks, objections, or aggression fromothers.It consists in a simple technique divided into four phases, all of them being equally essential.1.‘Listen’ till the last note, and ‘quiet’By listening and keeping silent you show the other person a genuine interest in his/her concern, and you alsogive him/her the opportunity to calm down and become less aggressive (should that be the case).Moreover after having listened and understood the question you are able to formulate your answer with careand accuracy.2. Constructive reformulationThis phase puts emphasis on the other person’s issue by showing him/her that you acknowledged receipt ofhis/her question or objection, that you received and understood his/her message.This phase also helps you to dig the positive side out of the question; it gives you indication on how to formulateyour answer.Examples:Q. What you are saying is abstract…A. So if I understand well, you are looking for a concrete way of…Q. I have been doing this job for the past 20 years, and I can tell you that…A. I can see you have a long experience…
3. AnswerThe person asking the question usually expects from you a real answer – it should be clear, concise,and as complete as possible (if not, (s)he will not miss the opportunity to come back with the sameissue).4. Return-question‘Returning the question’ means re-opening the debate in a positive direction (remember ‘thequestioner is usually the leader’).The objective of such a phase consists either in making sure your answer was satisfying to the otherperson, or in enlarging the debate with your whole team (discussion, argumentation, brainstorming,etc.).
Dealing with objections – Practice sessionObjection Reformulation
HOW TO MODERATE ?• Know the Mental Models: images, assumptions and stories people carry intheir minds.Chain Reaction (or simplified Ladder of Inference)(developed by C. Argyris and D. Schon - « The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook ») Conclusions (Actions) Concluding Assumptions Discovering (Meaning) Data (Facts)
HOW TO MODERATE ?• Explore and moderate Mental ModelsTo avoid people battling over conclusions, you might:• Explain briefly the concept of Ladder of InferenceAsk for clarification:« Can you help me understand how you came to this conclusion ? »,« Give me some data … »• Ask others in the group what they think about the conclusion reached by oneparticipant
BIBLIOGRAPHY / RESOURCESwww.Thiagi.comwww.Facilitutor.comThe Skilled Facilitator - Roger SchwarzThe Art of Facilitation - Dale Hunter, Anne Bailey, Bill TaylorThe Facilitator’s Fieldbook - Thomas Justice & David W. Jamieson
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