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Topics and Offerings

Through consultation from an Extension educator, we can design and deliver multi-session meetings that help communities make decisions based on public participation strategies. Our consultation helps local designers consider all of the elements described below.

Committees that Work -- Common Traps and Creative Solutions

How do we get the job done? This workshop, and its helpful 58-page guide, is for individuals and teams that want to improve the performance of their committees. Seven common traps of committees are identified, along with practical methods to address them. The guide describes traps such as: letting private interests influence public decision-making; making decisions outside of the meeting, getting stuck in conflict, losing control of the group and more.
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Managing Group Interaction

Group dynamics affect the overall performance of a group. Topics for this workshop include the use of openers and icebreakers, developing ground rules for facilitation, and assisting a group in staying on track. Information is also provided on stages of group development, paying attention to non-verbal group communication, and working with large groups.
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Dealing with Group Conflict

Conflicts in a group can come from many sources. The workshop examines those sources of conflict, and provides information on how to facilitate in conflict-laden situations. Conflict frameworks are reviewed so that facilitators have the ability to assess different types and patterns of conflict. Strategies to handle common group problems and manage problem meeting behaviors are included.
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Getting Focused: Developing Vision, Mission/Goals

Facilitators are frequently asked to assist groups in planning an effective agenda or address strategic issues. This workshop provides a framework for assisting a group in developing a shared vision, planning an agenda, creating effective vision and mission statements and documenting meeting results.
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Making Group Decisions

In order for facilitators to assist groups in making successful decisions through consensus-building processes, it is necessary to understand processes and techniques that can be used. The workshop provides a detailed review of six decision-making strategies (affinity mapping, brainstorming, criterion listing, data dump, envisioning the best/worst case, and nominal group process) and outlines conditions where different approaches might be more successful.
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Utilizing Diversity, Power and Ethics

Facilitators must be aware of the cultural contexts in which they work. The workshop provides information for facilitators on visible and less visible diversity within groups, and strategies to ensure the group respects differences. The workshop also addresses issues of power dynamics within a group and between the group and facilitator. Participant ethics, facilitator ethics and the ethics of the situation are part of the workshop content, including ethical expectations and principles for addressing unethical behavior. Practical tools for addressing issues of diversity, ethics and power are included.
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Understanding Facilitation

Having a clear sense of the facilitator role is essential for successful facilitation. The workshop provides information on the overall stages and tasks of facilitation, the concept of facilitator neutrality, principles for effective facilitation, ways to clarify the role of the facilitator and tools to assist the facilitator in leading a facilitated change process.
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Contracting and Handling Logistics

For facilitators, and the people who hire them, matching the right facilitator to the right job is the first ingredient for success. Developing the appropriate context and design for involvement is another essential part of successful facilitation. The workshop addresses how to contract and form a facilitation agreement, reviews strategies for meeting logistics and arrangements, and includes practical tools to assist with meeting organization, equipment and materials
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