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...)


Anonymous said...

Scribing is indeed misunderstood. It's associated with notetaking, which everyone is supposed to be able to do. But how to explain what a good scribe does>?

franca said...

I call it, "channeling the living". A good scribe needs to be intuitive, both in terms of sensing the underlying direction of the idea flow and also in terms of gaging the effect that the appearance of the words or images will have on that flow. -- Franca Leeson

Paul Groncki said...

I like the idea of "channeling." I often feel when I am scribing a facilitated session that I am "channeling" the room.