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Successful Techniques to Lead Project Facilitated Workshops

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A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)--4th edition states in chapter 1.1, "Good practice means there is general agreement that the application of project management processes has been shown to enhance the chances of success over a wide range of projects ..."

"...Good practice does not mean that the knowledge, skills and processes described should always be applied uniformly on all projects. For any given project, the project manager, in collaboration with the project team, is always responsible for determining which processes are appropriate, and the appropriate degree of rigor for each process."

In my experience, these passages are the essence of project management. Think about it: not all processes must be applied to every single project. And the project manager, with his team, is responsible for selecting the applicable processes and the rigor with which they'll be used. Beautiful, isn't it?

Process uses techniques. One of the most important techniques that I've applied is the PM's role as a workshop facilitator. To successfully apply this technique, you have to develop your skills in this area.

A facilitator's success relies on his or her preparation for each session. This includes the opening statement, the icebreaker exercise and the group dynamics you will be using to build trust, among other things.

Remember, every facilitated session has two main elements: An underlying process to achieve desired results and the content.

When you facilitate, it's important to understand that you can only work with process -- not the content. Facilitators must detach from the content. If you want to provide an opinion on it, you have to make it clear to the audience that you are abandoning your role as facilitator, then give your objective opinion and then let the audience know when you're putting your facilitator hat back on.

Finally, trust in yourself and in your ability to execute. In the end, the truly magical thing is the discussion and sharing that takes places within all participants during the session. This will really help you and your team to gain confidence, identity, sense of membership and a common understanding that can only be achieved in this type of setting.

Have you had success in implementing any of these techniques? What tools and techniques have you used to facilitate effective workshop sessions?

See more posts from Jorge.


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You are absolutely correct when you say that in order to work properly as a team you need a team leader.

I find that starting a project with a group meeting that clarifies the objectives of the project and clearly instructs each team member on their role, is extremely effective. When team members understand what the other people on the team are doing, they perform more effectively.

It's a reason I like Clarizen's task management software http://www.clarizen.com/ProjectSoftware/Features/TaskManagement.aspx - it enables all the members of a project team to follow the progress of a project and see immediately where their colleagues are holding.

Looking forward to reading more similar tips.

Good project management definitely begins with good project management software. There is no better way to keep track of all the many many things involved in any business project...

I recently discovered Clarizen (have a look, I think there is some sort of free trial available: http://www.clarizen.com/ProjectManagementSoftware.aspx)

It has changed the way I manage my business, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for ways to solve their project management problems.

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