WE WHO DESIGN AND FACILITATE meetings for a living tend to see our work in two dimensions: (1) the what—the content of the gatherings we facilitate, which includes the purpose, questions, challenges, and possibilities that matter most to the people in the groups we serve; and (2) the how—the structures, methods, skills, and techniques we use to help a group mobilize its collective energy, insights, and commitment to action. It’s in this second dimension that our special expertise really comes into play. Our ability to assist groups with the how of complex, emotional, important conversations is what makes us uniquely helpful in the world of high-stakes meetings.

Whether we admit it or not, the conventional wisdom of many people who do ...

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