"You did not just facilitate a meeting.  You facilitated the interactions and the learning of the group."

John J. Moeller, former Chief
Branch of Geographic Data Coordination
U.S. Geological Survey
U.S. Department of the Interior

The Cutting Edge

Weiss Consulting works with you to tailor an approach that precisely fits your group's needs. We have expertise in the best of advanced and emerging consulting and facilitation methodologies, including Appreciative Inquiry, Design for Collaboration, Polarity Management, Professional Facilitation, World Cafe, Open Space Technology, Graphic Facilitation and Electronic Facilitation.  Here is an introduction to these methods.

Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative Inquiry builds on successes of the past to create positive change in the future.  This approach shifts the practice of strategic planning, policy definition, leadership development, and conference design by focusing on what works already and what you want more of, not less of.  Using people's own stories as data, it fosters innovation, unleashes optimism and engages people to think together in new ways to produce exceptional results.  We used an Appreciative Inquiry approach with the GeoData Alliance and the National Children's Alliance cases.

Lonnie Weiss has been a partner in Appreciative Inquiry Consulting, a global positive change consultancy, and is a founding member of a Philadelphia-based AI practitioner group.  For more information see AI Consulting and explore the AI Commons portal.  Learn more at the Appreciative Inquiry section of our site.

Professional Facilitation

Facilitation makes it easier for people to work together creatively and productively. A neutral process facilitator conducts sessions with skill, balance and focus, keeping the work constructive and allowing everyone to participate in the content of the meeting. Lonnie Weiss is certified as a CPF, a Certified Professional Facilitator, by the International Association of Facilitators. Weiss Consulting follows the IAF Statement of Values and Code of Ethics. To read more about facilitation and its contribution to businesses and organizations, please visit IAF’s website, www.iaf-world.org, for their excellent selection of articles.

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Design for Collaboration

Masterful facilitation is more than what meets the eye during an event. Our careful design of the meeting’s purpose, agenda, methods and contingency plans means that 85 % of our facilitation work is done before we walk into the meeting. We practice the principles and framework articulated by colleagues Nancy Aronson and Gil Steil, Jr. in their work on The Collaboration Imperative.

Polarity Management

Some problems persist after apparently good solutions fail unimplemented, actively resisted or otherwise unsuccessful. These may not be problems that can be solved with a single logical answer, but interdependent polarities that must be managed. The principles of Polarity Management and its main tool, Polarity Mapping, provide a straightforward method to determine whether a vexing situation is a problem or a polarity. Many of our most frustrating and important conflicts are, indeed, polarities that must be held in balance. We need the benefits of planning AND action, quality AND acceptance, local control AND regional coordination. Barry Johnson’s Polarity Management Associates site offers a wealth of information on this simple yet powerful theory and practice. Or, contact Weiss Consulting for information on how to use Polarity Management to help get your system unstuck from recurring battles, and into constructive balance.

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World Cafe

World Cafe is a powerful, human-scale conversation structure that asks compelling questions to encourage collective learning.  This methodology encourages people to connect their diverse perspectives on questions that matter.  Through a series of small group dialogues, people listen for patterns, insights and collective discoveries.  For a description of a project in which we used World Cafe, see the GeoData Alliance project.  The World Cafe site, www.theworldcafe.com, provides full information and many examples.

Open Space Technology

Open Space may be the most emergent of all the cutting edge methodologies we know. In a meeting conducted with Open Space, people self-organize to create and manage their own agenda of parallel working sessions around compelling themes that are strategically important to them. Participants convene sessions, conduct conversations and document their discoveries, actionable ideas and questions for deeper consideration. Learn more about this method at www.openspaceworld.com/users_guide.htm.

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Graphic Facilitation

Sometimes it is important to provide a compelling visual representation of the group's work. We use cutting edge techniques and partner with a variety of extraordinary graphic facilitators, including the leading graphic facilitation firm in the U.S.. The Grove Consultants International.  This graphic summary of the 1999 National GeoData forum illustrates Grove's amazing work; see more at www.grove.com.

Electronic Facilitation

When a group must manage great amounts of information and opinion, they sometimes benefit from electronic meeting support.  We partner with CoVision Inc., whose Council process is unsurpassed in ensuring that the technology supports the real work rather than dominating it.  We also partner with iCohere, Inc. for integrated pre-event participation using online social networks.

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