Good facilitation skills are essential for many IA tasks and projects. The ability to successfully guide internal colleagues as well as external groups to shared, valuable outcomes serves a wide range of project needs – achieving stakeholder and team consensus, creating a clear vision for IA strategy, refining a taxonomy, to name just a few.
Careful and detailed planning will define the goals for the session, identify the right participants (and ways to handle a group composition you cannot select and tailor), and create a clear but flexible framework by which to navigate the session. These provide the necessary foundation for any facilitation session, but cannot strictly dictate direction. Navigating any group of individuals with their own perspectives and ideas to a shared definition of success is likely to be challenging. A successful facilitator has to bring a delicate balance of skills and qualities to each session:
- guiding the group towards the outcome without forcing a direction
- leading discussion flow using the framework while adapting to serendipitous findings
- encouraging participation while managing personalities and agendas and minimizing disruptions
At the end of the session, you want participants to have a shared sense of ownership of the outcome and a clear recognition of progress toward the larger goal the facilitation session is serving.
The flow and pace of every session will be different, so adaptability and flexibility are also critical skills for a successful facilitator. Planning and practice certainly help. This workshop will build activities around real-world scenarios from the presenters own experiences that participants can use to plan for and guide their own work.
At the end of the session, we will explore approaches to summarize and analyze the findings, from a summary and synthesis at the end of the session, which provides participants with an immediately valuable takeaway, to analysis of outcomes across multiple sessions to share with a broader group of stakeholders.
About the speakers
Karen Bachmann has over 20 years of experience supporting clients in all phases of user-centered design. She has worked with clients in various industries including scholarly publishing, retail, insurance, technology, education, and energy. She uses a wide range of research techniques to explore and define problems thoroughly to help identify the best, holistic solutions that fit the organization’s need. Karen regularly presents on research, design, and fundamental professional skills at international and regional professional conferences and to local business groups and meetups.
Duane Degler is a partner in Design for Context, a Washington DC/Baltimore-based usable design consultancy. He specializes in the design of sophisticated interactive applications and search experiences, with an eye to making rich data resources usable and relevant. He has led web and software projects for commercial and government clients in the US and Europe. He authored the “Dynamic IA” chapter in the book Reframing Information Architecture (2014). Since 2003, he has focused on the unique challenges and opportunities that arise when designing specifically for linked data and semantically-enabled applications.