Teamwork: Why I Never Lead A Session Alone

I’m thankful our youngest, Blake, never got into the Dora the Explorer series. The twins loved it but it drove Stephanie and I a bit crazy.

So I can’t attribute what I’m about to share with you to having watched too much Dora.

I’ve written before that Blake is a very affirming, positive five year old.

He also loves to talk about something that hit me personally and professionally.

“Blake ready to play outside after our first snow this past winter (’16-’17)
This is his idea of being ready!”

When we are doing something as a family, be it cleaning, yard work or whatever, he’s the first one to attribute what we are doing to “teamwork.”

We get more done and whatever we are doing is easier and more fun because we are doing it together as a team.

My dad and I made for a great delivery team. He would lead the sessions and I’d do all of the pre-work, the documentation during the session as well as the follow-up.
I led a “pro-bono” session for a friend recently. She asked if I’d come in and help their organization think through a challenging issue.

I was happy to do that as I’m always ready to help a friend in any way, shape or form.

I led the session by myself…and I wasn’t happy with the end product.

Now, please know they were thrilled with the output. She couldn’t believe what we accomplished in such a short amount of time.

I didn’t have a Compression Planning “trained” printer so the documentation suffered.

I tried everything I could to model printing as well as being directive but it just didn’t work.

I know the team approach in Compression Planning is powerful but it didn’t really hit home until I was talking to a friend from the Dallas County Community College District in September.

This team has led a LOT of Compression Planning sessions…internal to the district as well as in the community…as a team of FOUR Compression Planners.

Their team of four consists of: 1 person leading/facilitating, 2 people trained in documentation/printing and 1 person dedicated to pinning.

This is smart as it allows the person leading the session to focus on leading, and not on any of the logistics that go on to support the process.

When I’m contracted to lead a Compression Planning session for a group, I always go out with at least one and sometimes two team members.

Documentation of the discussion and capturing matured ideas is vital to the success of a Compression Planning session.

I know this yet, for the pro-bono session, I tried it alone.

If I could turn back time, I’d have hired someone to go along and be my printer for the two hours. It would have made a world of difference in what I felt was just an “okay product” at the end of their session.

I know not everyone who is reading this has the luxury of leading every group as a team.

When you can, and if it makes sense, bring a printer along with you. If you have to recruit on the spot, give them a quick education on what your expectations are of them.

Here are 5 items I recommend you cover when training your “recruited-on-the-spot-printers.”
1.    Don’t paraphrase. Capture the idea as it was shared.
2.    Start with an action verb and use a minimum of 8-10 words.
3.    Don’t worry about spelling. Focus on legibility.
4.    Encourage taking quick notes on a separate card that includes the different “cornerstones” of the idea being shared. Then come back and compile them onto one card. This is why you want to have TWO printers.
5.    If they are unsure of the card, hold it up so the person who shared it can validate it as accurate…or fill in the missing information.

Remember, Compression Planning sessions differ from traditional Brainstorming. You are after quality, actionable/detailed ideas and input from your participants.

It’s not about quantity. It’s about the quality of a matured thought/idea.

The easiest way (and most enjoyable) to lead your Compression Planning session is with a team.

It’s not a requirement, but whenever you can do it, it sure does help make your job in leading the group easier.

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