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Facilitating Productive Debate:
The Problem With 'Feel Good' Sessions

Practical Strategy
Making Predictions
Breaking Rules
Engineering Knowledge
Consulting 'Sins'
Facilitating Debate

Cartegic prides itself on using only the most highly seasoned group process facilitators, employing well-proven group process techniques. What we don't do is stop there.

Many 'pure' group process consultants pride themselves on getting managers to talk to each other more smoothly and work out disagreements amicably - without knowing anything about the client or their industry.

We're all for human empathy. Well-engineered meetings that provide a safe, balanced, refereed environment in which to hash out difficult issues are a high art. They're important. The good ones stand out for being rare.

The weakness of a pure process approach however lies in having little experience or fresh outside content and opinion to 'ventilate' the discussion with facts and perspective. They can often sound like this:

"I know nothing about your industry.
All ideas are worthy.
The answer lies within.
If we all just talk more or
meditate a little harder,
maybe we'll get there..."

That may be a tad harsh, but f or the true process facilitator, weighing in with his or her own opinion, or steering the discussion are all anathema, since (as the thinking goes), it would "distort" the dynamics of the debate and promote over-reliance on an outside party. Nonsense.

While this may be wise counsel for divorce attorneys, diplomats, and therapists, it seldom serves the needs of executives who want to make good decisions quickly and move on. It's as important for the facilitator to (judiciously and calmly) weigh in with expert insights and observations as it is for any other participant.

Engagements by individuals without any perspective on the subject matter can run aground due to shallow understanding of industry dynamics, or a lack of basic data about a company's standing vis a vis customers, partners, and competitors. Such sessions can be interesting, even comforting to attend. They seldom lead to coherent, credible strategy.

Cartegic is always balancing its facilitator role (structuring and mediating a lively and productive strategic thinking or decision-making session) with its roles as content purveyors and widely-traveled experts. Clients who've used us appreciate the value of getting both from a single source.