The term, “Facilitation”, according to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK), is the skill of supervising discussions within a group with the objective of ensuring participants articulate their views and can recognize or appreciate the differing opinions of others.
Facilitation takes special effort, skill and experience to master. It is not exclusive to business analysts, however, but it is particularly important to them since they are required to manage requirement elicitation meetings and workshops. Effective facilitation can help stakeholders define and discover their requirements.
This piece discusses 5 key tips for effective facilitation:
1. Apply Business Analysis Techniques
Facilitation can be improved when techniques like brainstorming, root cause analysis, mind maps, etc. are applied. These techniques can prompt the BA to ask the right questions, engage participants actively to prevent boredom, retain attention and help participants think outside the box.
2. Manage Distraction
If it seems the conversation is going off track into unintended subjects of discussion, it is important to manage this by steering the conversation away.
Also, if you notice that participants are getting distracted by side conversations, politely ask them to pay attention. Establishing ground rules from the start can help reduce the level of distraction encountered.
3. Use Icebreakers
Icebreakers are particularly key to ensuring that participants loosen up so that they can contribute actively to the discussion, especially when they don’t usually work together. Participants who feel they are being judged or have their guards up are unlikely to contribute.
Icebreakers can be designed to include jokes, personal experiences, brain teasers and any other activity that gets participants comfortable working together.
4. Observe Non-verbal Cues
Non-verbal cues are a rich source of information if one pays attention to them. They provide information that can be used by the BA to set stakeholders at ease, ask the right questions and gain insight that may otherwise not be expressed verbally.
5. Manage Time
There are few things more ineffective than organising a grand event and not being able to stick to the pre-defined schedule. Addressing all the relevant topics within the allotted time is a good sign of time management and will show participants that you respect their time and are capable of handling their affairs.
Got other tips? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.