9Execute (unity and action) Change doesn’t happen without collective action to resolve the issues, repair relationships, promote positivity and create harmony. Affirmative facilitators help groups strive for consensus;
however, a majority vote can be taken to make a
decision. I always use a spectrum to indicate levels
of support, with strong support on one end and
weak on the other. Consensus is when there is
grouping around strong support. Spectrums tell you
much more than a simple vote. Once a decision is
made, I explain, it is incumbent on the entire group
to act on it with unity — regardless of how many
supported the idea.
The new director of a state agency was frustrated.
The agency was suffering high turnover and low
morale, and he felt his hands were tied in so many
ways. He invited his key staff to come together and
gave them free rein to address any topic with any
idea. The most audacious idea was to rewrite state
law to reform the job titles and pay grades, and
the staff was in complete consensus. The director
supported the idea and the bill was introduced
to the legislature. It passed and three years later
the group was still flying high from their success.
Consensus leads to action.
(reflection and growth)
A reflective break can bring about the greatest
movement in difficult situations. Reflection can take
place at any point in the process. It might be used
during the discussion or at the conclusion. Many
new insights have come through reflection from
conflicts that were at an impasse. It’s important to
include this in the process for future growth for the
group .and for yourself as a facilitator as well.
Two couples were neighbors and were acting in
a very uncivil way towards each other during the
mediation. They were separated and asked to reflect
on their relationships for 15 minutes. When they
came back together, they spontaneously apologized
to each other and were much more willing to
consider future positive interactions. Reflection
Affirmative Facilitation is about focusing on the
positive at each stage of the process. People in
positive moods are more expansive and creative
in their thinking. I always tell groups to think better,
you need to feel better. There’s always at least one
optimist in the room. Let that optimist be you.