Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making


Unleash the transformative power of face to face groups

The third edition of this ground-breaking book continues to advance its mission to support groups to do their best thinking. It demonstrates that meetings can be much more than merely an occasion for solving a problem or creating a plan. Every well-facilitated meeting is also an opportunity to stretch and develop the perspectives of the individual members, thereby building the strength and...

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Unleash the transformative power of face to face groups

The third edition of this ground-breaking book continues to advance its mission to support groups to do their best thinking. It demonstrates that meetings can be much more than merely an occasion for solving a problem or creating a plan. Every well-facilitated meeting is also an opportunity to stretch and develop the perspectives of the individual members, thereby building the strength and capacity of the group as a whole.

This fully updated edition of The Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making guides readers through the struggle and the satisfaction of putting participatory values into practice, helping them to fulfill the promise of effective group decision-making. With previous editions already embraced by business and community leaders and consulting professionals around the world, this new book is even more insightful and easy to use.

New for this edition:

  • 60 pages of brand new skills and tools
  • Many new case examples
  • Major expansion and reorganization of the advanced sections of the book.
  • New chapter: Teaching A Group About Group Dynamics
  • Doubled in size: Classic Facilitator Challenges.
  • Substantially improved: Designing Realistic Agendas – now three chapters, with wise, insightful answers to the most vexing questions about meeting design.
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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"In cross-functional environments, where diverse perspectives are intentionally brought together to produce high-quality thinking, a highly skilled facilitator can add great value—and Sam Kaner is one of the best. The Facilitator's Guide provides a full set of models and tools to enable an organization to reap the benefits of a well facilitated, participatory decision-making process. Having seen Sam's methods in action, I can attest to their power and effectiveness."
—Pierre Omidyar, founder and chairman, eBay and Omidyar Network

"Hooray for the Facilitator's Guide. It explains principles, practices, and processes with cogent clarity, and each diagram conveys a complex idea almost instantly."
—Joanna Macy, author, World as Lover, World as Self

"Our organization's core purpose is to dissolve boundaries across sectors in order to find innovative solutions to difficult social problems. We know how immensely challenging it is to facilitate dialogue among multiple stakeholders. This amazing book is a comprehensive guide for meeting that challenge. I've worked with a myriad of consultants during the past 16 years, and Sam Kaner's approach is vastly superior for bringing about lasting system change."
—Kriss Deiglmeier, executive director, Center for Social Innovation, Stanford University

"Sam Kaner is one of the world's leading experts on collaboration. His grasp of the challenges and dilemmas of collaboration is superb, as are his models and methods for facilitating complex processes."
—Sandy Schuman, editor, Creating a Culture of Collaboration

"The Facilitator's Guide has allowed us to build our own capacity. We've learned how to convene multiple stakeholder teams, plan effectively, and make more sustainable decisions, thus maintaining our collaborative values as we grow to serve a wider community. I highly recommend this book."
—James Whipple, CEO, Marshall Medical Center, El Dorado County, California

"Kaner's decision-making procedures are the best I've ever seen. We use them all the time!"
—Deborah Alvarez-Rodriguez, president and CEO, Goodwill Industries of San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin Counties

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781118404959
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 4/28/2014
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 200,849
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Sam Kaner, Ph.D. is the founder of the consulting firm Community At Work, and he has been its Executive Director since 1986. He is regarded as one of the nation's leading experts on facilitation. Over the past 20 years he has repeatedly been a featured speaker at the annual conferences of several professional associations, including the National Organization Development Network and the International Association of Facilitators. His corporate clients have included Hewlett-Packard, Price Waterhouse, Visa International, Charles Schwab and Company, and many other Fortune 500 companies. His public sector clients have included the California Supreme Court, the March of Dimes, Special Olympics, Annie E Casey Foundation and many schools, community-based organizations and government agencies.

Lenny Lind is president of CoVision, Inc. He is the co-developer of Council—a groupware system designed for facilitators.

Catherine Toldi, M.A. is a freelance collaboration specialist.

Sarah Fisk, PhD is a clinical psychologist, a seasoned facilitator, and a designer of participatory processes. She has been a featured speaker of the annual conferences of the National Organization Development Network and the International Association of Facilitators as well as an adjunct professor at California Institute of Integral Studies. Sarah's corporate clients have included Hewlett-Packard, Agilent, Visa International, Mercer Human Resource Consulting, Inc. and many other Fortune 500 businesses. Her public sector clients have included the March of Dimes, the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, EarthIsland Institute, City of Edmonton, Alberta, and numerous educational and government agencies and community based organizations. Sarah has been a senior consultant with Community At Work since 1996.

Duane Berger, M.A. is co-founder of the Resource Center for Consensus Decision-Making.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Michael Doyle xv

Introduction to the First Edition xxi

Introduction to the Third Edition xxv

Part I: Grounding Principles

1 The Dynamics of Group Decision-Making 3

2 Participatory Values 23

3 Introduction to the Role of Facilitator 31

Part II: Facilitator Fundamentals

4 Facilitative Listening Skills 41

5 ChartWriting Technique 65

6 Brainstorming 79

7 Tools for Managing Long Lists 87

8 Facilitating Open Discussion 99

9 Alternatives to Open Discussion 113

10 Effective Agendas: Design Principles 145

11 Effective Agendas: Desired Outcomes 161

12 Effective Agendas: Process Design 177

13 Dealing with Difficult Dynamics 197

14 Classic Facilitator Challenges 215

Part III: Sustainable Agreements

15 Principles for Building Sustainable Agreements 229

16 Inclusive Solutions in Real Life 239

17 Creative Reframing 253

Part IV: Facilitating Sustainable Agreements

Introduction to Part Four  262

18 Facilitating in the Divergent Zone 265

19 Facilitating in the Groan Zone 279

20 Facilitating in the Convergent Zone 295

21 Teaching a Group About Group Dynamics 309

Part V: Reaching Closure

22 The Significance of Clear Decision Rules 323

23 Striving for Unanimity 333

24 Reaching Closure Step By Step 347

25 Facilitating Sustainable Agreements 363

Photocopying Policy 373

Bibliography 375

Acknowledgments 381

The Authors 387

Index 389

Covision 399

Community At Work 400

Training from Community At Work 401

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2004

    Great Resource

    I own about 10 books just on the practice of facilitation alone. This book looks simplistic in dealing with the intricate theories of a complex field; however, it is fantastic in dealing with the practice of facilitation, and gives you an excellent framework for viewing facilitation, as well as tools for making it happen and tricks to make it easier on you as well as the group. While there are deep books on the psychology of groups and guiding such, this book is my hands-down recommendation, after 13 years of practice, to all who are charged with some sort of facilitation role.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2000

    Best all-around guide to facilitating book.

    Not only does the Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making a great introduction and explanation of this method of group decision-making, it is also the best all-around guide for facilitating groups. It is easy to read, easy to use, and gives some great tips for moving a group of people from the 'groan zone' to win-win. No consultant, trainer, facilitator, or group leader should be without it.

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