The art of facilitating wisdom discovery

By William Seidman The process of helping your positive deviants articulate what drives them, which we call Wisdom Discovery, requires some specialized detective skills. Facilitating an effective Wisdom Discovery session is very different from facilitating other kinds of meetings and workshops. Guiding positive deviants to dig deep and articulate what makes them different is part art and part science, and experience as a facilitator doesn’t always help. The facilitator’s formal title isn’t important. The facilitator can be a skilled Organizational Development process guru, a skilled facilitator from the human resources department, or a hired workshop leader or trainer from outside the company—anyone who has the general people-focused and group management skills. Knowledge of the company or the role being investigated is not necessary or even desirable. Rather, the facilitator needs to understand the different steps in the Discovery process, put his or her own subject matter expertise aside, and listen intently to the positive deviants. A genuinely inquisitive nature is essential. Someone who’s good at Wisdom Discovery has a driving passion to find out why things or processes are important, how things work at the company, where things happen, what the outcomes are and when things are supposed to happen. A facilitator who asks probing questions with genuine humility and curiosity prompts positive deviants to slow down and think specifically about what makes them great, then asks questions that get them to articulate that. Then, the good facilitator listens intently to the answers and makes sure they get captured. Too much knowledge of the company or role being investigated, and any kind of bias or ego, prevents this. Wisdom Discoveries work only when the facilitator becomes an invisible guide, someone who makes the positive deviants the stars and their expertise the focus.  ]]>

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