Monday, March 3, 2008

What the Scribe does...

The scribe:
  • Captures what is happening
  • Writes down what participants say
  • Is concise
  • Lists the data/information captured by section/category/group/topic
  • Checks with participants regularly to ensure accurate capturing of ideas
  • Screens out the unnecessary and redundant
  • Thinks about what is being said
  • Knows the process used by the lead facilitator so doesn't need to think about the process
  • Dances is step with the lead facilitator
  • Thinks fast
  • Juggles flaming balls
  • Helps support the choosing from the long lists
  • Synthesizes and distills
  • Puts the data in the OJ juicer and extracts the pulp
Any other thoughts or ideas would be greatly appreciated. Also, suggestions of other blogs or websites that talk about scribing and facilitation would be nice to link to this blog.


Kristen Peterson said...

This is very timely -- I did an all day facilitation with a client last week. An in-house facilitator at the client had read Tim Hurson’s book Think Better and wanted to try the process internally on their biz relationship with one of their clients -- a $20 million account for them - on how to improve the relationship, increase revenue, be seen as a trusted advisor, and broaden and deepen the relationship.

I was primarily there to "observe," introduce the principles of productive thinking, and step in if things started to fall apart I stepped in halfway into the first step -- mostly because the facilitator, Tina, had arranged for someone on her team to "take notes" on a laptop – basically a clerical from the team -- which clearly wasn't happening. So I took over facilitating and Tina picked up the scribing. The scribing dragged me down as a facilitator -- Tina didn't know the process well enough. I would have moved to paper and scribed for myself but the room was tiny and there was little space to move around.

Lesson learned: the scribe must know the process AND be a fast and accurate typist -- otherwise they can totally slow things down and divert the focus of both the facilitator and the group . If asked again I would say no to a "note taker" and provide my own scribe, or less desirably, scribe for myself.

Big additional benefit having a scribe -- having an expert in the process greatly improves the quality of note capture and dramatically speeds up convergence.

In feedback from the group, one of the more senior participants recognized that the electronic note taking got in the way.

Paul Groncki said...

Great story Kristen. I am sure others have similar experiences to share.