Friday, February 29, 2008

The Scribe Needs to...

Some things that the facilitating scribe needs to do...
  • Understand the process being used
  • Have a facilitator's mindset
  • Take down information in an organized fashion
  • Take down information so the room can follow it
  • Know how to capture, distill, and organize
  • Be active, effective, and visible to the group
  • Have the knowledge base and the experience base
  • Be accurate, useful, visually evocative, and meaningful
  • Have the ability to milk the information and pull out the essence
  • Not be right all of the time, but close to right most of the time
  • Have a servant's attitude to change what has been captured
  • Be able to switch places with the lead facilitator
As always, comments welcome...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Text Scribing vs. Graphic/Visual Scribing

I have been fascinated by the concept of graphic/visual scribing like that promoted by Grove. (I just received an email from Grove which sparked this post.) While the visual approach of Grove is quite appealing, I have never actually seen it used. I would like to hear from others about how effective it is.

I know that text scribing -- when done well -- generates very useful output that can be put to use by the team. Does the visual scribing approach actual produce output that can be put to use? I suspect the visual approach may be fun to experience, but am concerned about the usability of the output. It is probably a matter of context -- the visual approach works well in some applications while the textual approach is better suited to other situations.

Any thoughts from others with graphic/visual scribing experience?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Scribing Role Defined

When we talk about scribing in the facilitation sense, we are talking about capturing the ideas and decisions produced by participants in a facilitated meeting. This mostly involves capturing long lists of ideas and helping the facilitator and participants choose the best ideas from those lists.

Capturing long lists of ideas
The scriber needs to accurately capture the ideas generated. This is often done with flip charts and markers. It can also be done electronically on a laptop with the screen projected on the wall so all can see what is being captured. The scribe should capture as accurately as possible the ideas generated, but does not need to capture verbatim all comments or ideas. Part of the skill in effective scribing is to distill the sometimes loquacious ideas of participants while capturing the essence of their ideas. The scribe needs to be continually checking back with the participants to be sure the captured ideas accurately reflect the participant's ideas.

Upcoming posts will talk about how the scribe helps the participants and the facilitator choose from the lists and work closely with facilitator. We will also talk about the skills of the scribe, tools for the scribe, and other topics generated by the comments.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Facilitating meetings and scribing introduction

I have started this blog to explore the nature of meeting facilitation and scribing. I facilitate meetings and help others facilitate meetings and have found that the assistance of a scribe -- or note taker or recorder -- greatly enhances the meetings. Yet, when trying to convince clients of the usefulness of an independent scribe to work with the lead facilitator, we often meet much resistance. Sometimes clients do not want to pay the extra as they do not see its value. Sometimes they say "oh, we have someone who can take notes." Yet, when we have provided a second facilitator to act as scribe, the meetings turn out to be at least twice as productive.
  • The lead facilitator can focus on the people in the room and managing the discussion without worrying about what is being captured.
  • The second facilitator provides a second set of eyes and ears to support the lead facilitator.
  • All ideas are captured and saved for use in the future, so no one's ideas get "lost."
  • When done electronically and posted with a projector on the wall, the ideas evolve with the discussion and the meeting ends with a report already written.
Most of the meetings we facilitate use an approach we call Productive Thinking. Productive Thinking grew out of the Osborne-Parnes Creative Problem Solving Process that many of us learned originally at the Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI) sponsored by the Creative Education Foundation. The Productive Thinking approach was developed by Tim Hurson and is documented in his recent book "Think Better." Tim Hurson and Kristen Peterson are the principles of thinkx intellectual capital inc. and I work with them as Consulting Partner.

This is just the beginning of my thoughts and I am hoping others will join in with their thoughts about the role of a "scribe" in facilitating meetings. (I would even like to come up with another name for the role...)