SO YOU’VE BEEN ASKED TO FACILITATE AN INCEPTION...
As facilitator of an inception, all eyes are on you. But take heart – you’re not doing this alone. Inceptions are a joint effort, and your colleagues will lead in their areas of expertise and contribute with their consulting skills.
Put together and maintain the Facilitation Kit.
Focus the team on session goals and responsibilities (leading, facilitating, note and time tracking).
Where needed, remind the team of the ‘plan of attack’, especially when heading into complex or political territory.
DURING EACH SESSION:
Start each session, confirm the expected outcomes and how the session will be run.
Ensure participants understand why they are there, and what value they will get out of it (or are expected to provide).
Balance attendees meeting their own needs (to vent, be heard, etc) with moving forwards on the topics at hand.
Reinforce the rules of engagement (e.g. if someone breaks the rules of engagement, point to the rule being broken and confirm whether the group still signs up to this).
Stayontrack. Summarise decisions, insights and outcomes. Park topics that are not relevant right now, explain why, and note them down for future revisiting. Park and revisit whenever you’re going round in circles, can’t make a decision, or where a stakeholder hijacks a session.
Note down assumptions, risks, dependencies and actions. Assign owners.
Keep momentum going, but also provide space to think and reflect.
Read the room and make suggestions based on what you observe (breaks, focused break-out discussions, revisit topics on another day, involve (different) experts or decision-makers in future sessions).
At regular intervals, playback outcomes, insights and confirm the next session/ activity.
THROUGHOUT THE DAY:
Start each day with a recap of the previous day, and a look ahead at what the sessions will be today.
Through out the day, you are continually building up a picture of the current context and potential future state. To make the knowledge count, tie in what you learn in each subsequent session/activity to the work done before (e.g. when talking about a feature, you can refer back to a specific pain point raised a day earlier).
Take notes of the dynamics you’re observing, where you think there might be unaddressed (or taboo!) topics and risks; raise these with the group (or a trusted party) so the problem(s) can be addressed.