Facilitated Workshops: An Agile ‘Must Have’

Facilitated Workshops: An Agile ‘Must Have’

Insights | 24 July 2018

Working in an ‘agile’ way is typified by collaboration, prioritisation, iterative and incremental delivery and timeboxing, with a focus on delivering business value. At the centre, is the business (customer) need; every decision made should be viewed in light of this.  Continuous cooperation, communications and commitment is vital.

Collaboration and Facilitated Workshops

Did you realise that collaboration in its purest sense encourages greater understanding, shared ownership, more informed and expedited decision-making, meaning agile teams perform at levels that exceed the sum of the parts?

Facilitated workshops are a key practice of high performing agile teams, enabling group members to collaborate and achieve agreed goals. Central to the success of a facilitated workshop is an effective and experienced independent facilitator. A neutral facilitator has no stake in the outcome and is focussed on harnessing the creativity and interactions of participants.

Why Facilitation and Facilitated Workshops?

Speed, commitment and buy-in are crucial in an agile environment; facilitated workshops enable a team-based approach in achieving results. Benefits of facilitated workshops run by an independent facilitator include:

  • Higher quality and faster decision-making
  • Greater motivation to support decisions due to individual involvement
  • Increased understanding of conflicts and clarification of issues
  • Greater stakeholder buy-in
  • Increased productivity – groups produce better results than individual efforts
  • Increased opportunity to contribute and be part of the team

What is the role of the Facilitator?

An effective neutral facilitator can be the difference to the success of a workshop. Without such a person it is very difficult for the group to work at an optimal level: facilitating and being a workshop participant is typically onerous on an individual with inevitable conflicts of interest.

The role of the facilitator is to help groups focus on the task, be more creative, effective and productive than without such a role. The facilitator needs to be objective, aware of underlying group dynamics, remove any barriers to the process and adaptable to changing situations.

When can I use Facilitated Workshops?

Workshops can be used as appropriately throughout the life of a project. Examples include:

  • Planning
  • Gathering requirements
  • Stakeholder analysis
  • Problem-solving
  • Risk
  • Decision-making
  • Prioritisation

“Enabling people to communicate and collaborate effectively pays enormous dividends. Facilitated Workshops are an extremely efficient and effective way of achieving this enhanced communication.”

Agile Project Management Handbook v2, Agile Business Consortium, 2017

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