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Introduction

We know what you’re thinking… oh no, not another book on Project Management. Well,
you’re in luck. This is not another book on Project Management. You don’t need another book
on project management. A quick search of Google or Amazon will point you to more references
on Project Management than you can digest in one lifetime.

What This Book is Not About

To clarify what this book is about, let’s first define what it’s not. This book is not a primer
on project management. It does not debate the pros and cons of waterfall approaches or agile
methods. It will not teach you how to build out a project plan, resource schedule, or budget. It
will not make a novice project manager an expert. It will not provide a magic bullet to pull a
poorly conceived, poorly scoped, poorly executed project out of the ditch.

This book is not an introduction to facilitation. It assumes that you’re familiar with basic
team dynamics and meeting management. If you’re not, there are numerous books to provide
additional insights into Facilitation 101. Check out the references in our Appendix for some
excellent resources.

This book is not an overview of Six Sigma. We utilize many Six Sigma techniques and
employ practices consistent with quality principles, but again you’ll have to look elsewhere for a
primer.

This book does not promote an approach to be blindly followed for all projects. We’ll
discuss ways to make intelligent decisions on when to and not to apply the concepts we present.
This book does not present itself as the only way to accelerate projects. We’re not so foolish
as to presume that what we’re advocating is the answer for all cases of poor quality and missed
deadlines. However, we think you’ll find it extremely useful as another tool in your toolbox.

So What Is This Book About?

This book is about supporting and accelerating projects through the use of facilitated group
work sessions. It provides project managers, facilitators, and project teams with useful insights
and practical work session techniques which can be applied within any project methodology to
accelerate and bring quality to its deliverables. And in the process, prevent some of the common
problems which contribute to poor quality, and cost and time overruns.

Wait – you said this book wasn’t about project management, so why do we care about
projects? Because project initiatives are the primary way companies effect change. And any
company that is going to survive and thrive needs to know how to change effectively. That
means knowing when to change, what to change, and how to change. It also means having the
ability to take a workforce (a.k.a., people) through the transition and allow them to embrace and
internalize the change.

Change is about people and the projects that help them define and implement new and
improved ways of doing business. Technology is in there, too. It’s a fundamental enabler of
people and their work (processes), and it, too, requires careful consideration, definition and
implementation. All of these get rolled into the scope of a project and handed off to a lucky
Project Manager and his / her team to deliver. To deliver on time, within budget, and on target
with preset objectives and expectations. These are big challenges and big expectations that
project managers and project teams live with every day.

And that’s where facilitated work sessions come in. Facilitation is, by definition, to “make
things easy”. Facilitation, when done right, is hard work that makes an outcome easier to
achieve. It is a discipline that enables the bringing together of people to accomplish a specific
outcome in a determined period of time. Don’t confuse this with a meeting, or “meetings” as
they are commonly practiced. We are referring to something different - project work sessions
where work gets done, not “talked about”. The facilitator is the leader of such a group work
session. Skilled in techniques that enable creative thinking, decisioning, focus, and building of
specified outputs, the facilitator leads the team through activities that accomplish work and yield
a specific output that is required by the project.

As professional facilitators, we’re “hands on” every day working on large-scale projects with
our clients. Our experience, combined with what we’ve heard from our clients, confirms that
pairing expert facilitation skills with the skills of an expert Project Manager to accelerate and
improve quality of project deliverables is a powerful partnership. Facilitating the project
lifecycle means making smart choices about when and how to pull key talent together during a
project to effectively produce outputs critical to the success of the initiative.

This book is a practical guide that will:

  1. Help you understand the benefits of using facilitated group work sessions to get real work done d uring a project – and get it done faster and better than other more traditional individual work approaches.

  2. Point out the complimentary but different skills of Project Managers and Facilitators – and the essential need for both.

  3. Recommend specific points within the project lifecycle where facilitated work sessions can capitalize on group knowledge to accelerate the building of key project deliverables and ensure their quality as they are built.

  4. Present a work session structure to guide you through the planning, delivery and followup of facilitated work sessions.

  5. Offer work session guides for building out key project deliverables.

  6. Suggest sample agendas to use as a starting point.

  7. Offer a set of techniques for managing the group dynamics.

The Structure of the Book

Part I: The Power of the Partnership

This opening segment of the book describes the concept and benefits of utilizing facilitated
work sessions within a project to accelerate and build quality into the project lifecycle and its
deliverables. It describes the partnership of the project sponsor, project manager and facilitator,
and the essential roles of each. Guidelines are offered for recognizing when facilitated work
sessions will provide the greatest benefit, and a framework is presented for assessing effective
facilitation and facilitator competencies.

Part II: The Partnership in Practice

Here’s where we roll up our sleeves. This segment of the book introduces the work session
structure, from planning through delivery and follow-up. It also provides a blueprint for five
types of work sessions commonly used in support of projects, with sample agendas, deliverable
templates, and useful techniques for accomplishing work session deliverables.

Part III: The Techniques

This segment presents practical techniques to apply when managing group dynamics (such as
brainstorming and nominal group technique), and specialized techniques for building out project
deliverables (such as scope framing and process mapping).

Part IV: References and Resources

The References and Resources segment offers information at-a-glance to help you use the
techniques in project situations, and points to useful publications, organizations and online
resources.

Templates CD

A CD is also included with the book. This CD includes electronic versions of the templates
that are referred to throughout the book. For additional resources and template updates, please
refer to our website: www.facilitatingprojects.com

Is This Book for You?

If you are a Project Manger, Facilitator, Project Team Member or Project Sponsor, this book
is for you. You’ll either want to know about, or know how to use, these practices to speed up
your next project.

To help you focus on the sections that are most relevant to you, we’ve put together the
following table (see Figure 1). It reflects our recommendation on how to use this book based
upon role. Primary reading means these sections are applicable to your daily work and should be
looked at first. Secondary reading indicates those segments of the book which will provide
useful knowledge, but are not likely to be practiced on a day-to-day basis.

However you choose to use this book and accompanying CD, we trust that you will use it.
Our intent is that it become a well-used, dog-eared reference tool for those involved in managing
and delivering business projects. We welcome your questions and feedback as you practice the
approaches and techniques presented in this book. Contact us at feedback@facilitatingprojects.com.

2005 Facilitating Projects | All Rights Reserved.

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