Project Management

Six Essential Facilitation Techniques for Project Managers

Doug is the author of the landmark book, Extreme Project Management®: Using Leadership, Principles and Tools to Deliver Value in the Face of Volatility. He works with clients who undertake projects in very demanding environments: those settings that feature high speed, high change, high unpredictability and high stress. Doug has lived in the trenches—from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to Beijing, China—with over 275 project teams with budgets that ranged from $25,000 to over $25 million. He is one of the founders of the Agile Leadership Network, an organization dedicated to connecting, developing and supporting great project leaders. He is known for his hard-hitting and humorous keynote speeches that address vital issues facing today’s project-based organizations. You can visit Doug at

Importance of Facilitation Skills
At one time I was really naïve. I believed that if you had a problem to solve or a decision to be made and you assembled a group of very smart and experienced people in a room, you would come up with a good decision or eloquent solution. Wrong. I had to learn a simple truth: smart people don't necessarily equal smart decisions.
Here are a few examples: John F. Kennedy and his advisors met to decide on the invasion of Cuber (as the president from New England would pronounce it). As it turned out, the advisory group really didn't make an informed decision at all. No one wanted to rock the boat. They second-guessed that the president wanted to invade Cuba and simply rubber-stamped it without holding a robust discussion of the pros and cons. The resultant invasion was an embarrassing flop. The Bay of Pigs is an example of group think, the tendency of individuals to move forward by subordinating their own views or by not engaging in a conflict of ideas.
Then there was the Challenger disaster in 1986. A decision had to be made to launch or not to launch. When one of the engineers recommended against it because of a potential problem with the "O" rings freezing up, he was pressured by management into giving the go-ahead anyway. He did just that and history recorded an avoidable tragedy.
Facilitation: The Missing Ingredient
The reality …

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- Groucho Marx