Using facilitation skills expounded by Tony Mann, of Resource Strategic Change and senior examiner on APMG-International’s facilitation skills certification scheme, with the senior team at Premier Foods’ Hovis plant in Avonmouth, has proved extremely powerful, believes the Site Manufacturing Manager, Gordon Swanston. According to Gordon: “Our ability to very quickly coalesce as a mature problem solving team is vastly different from how it was before the facilitation programme began.
“The value of having my teams and me trained and developed in the basics of facilitation skills has more than delivered for us over the past ten years or so,” he added. “The opportunity to start to practice the skills immediately and use them in our everyday business lives to help with problem solving and continuous improvement was the difference between this and any other skills development course I’d previously encountered.
“Practice, as they say, makes perfect and the development in terms of maturity of the team to be able to define tasks and facilitate solutions has improved in the past seven years to the point where it permeates the team to all levels.
“The use of post-its, dots, white/brown paper wall charts is the minimum that the teams will use when meeting to discuss and resolve issues and problems,” Gordon explained. “The techniques of , for example, brain dump, fishbone diagrams, SCA, SPO, Snap, cluster and the myriad of other techniques has passed into common usage. Moreover, all teams are adept at moving more quickly from correctly identifying a task to a solution in either small or larger groups. The most frequently used piece of problem solving equipment I have sits on my desk in a clear plastic box. It’s my facilitation kit.”
Tony Mann commented: “As Gordon’s experience illustrates, Facilitation is a professional skill which can be used in the workplace to identify and resolve issues, encourage productive interaction, develop accurate objectives and define the scope of change projects. Good facilitators empower and encourage teams so they get the most out of strategic planning exercises.
“Effective facilitation can make the difference between a solution that has all kinds of hidden problems and one that is robust and can be made to work,” he commented. “It helps people work collaboratively on key issues and also to make fundamental decisions. Being an effective facilitator helps any manager achieve higher levels of success.”
APMG-International – the provider of specialist qualifications for knowledge-based workers, including PRINCE2® and ITIL® – has launched a certification scheme in Facilitation skills which is based on Tony Mann’s methodology. The scheme can teach candidates to design, apply and use specific processes and tools to increase the success of programmes and projects. APMG’s scheme offers facilitators the opportunity to be trained, assessed and certified in a similar way to project managers with Foundation and Practitioner qualifications.