You can run the process. You can contribute to content. Pick one.

If you work with a group that has more than seven participants, someone has to facilitate the process. And whoever takes responsibility for facilitating the process must surrender his or her right to offer content. Unfortunately, people constantly violate this PRIME.

I regularly see senior leaders running meetings. They facilitate the process while offering content and assigning value to what is being said. This is completely inappropriate; it does not prompt the best ideas to come forward with the best buy-in from stakeholders.

The reason for this is simple: If you are running the process and have a stake in the outcome, you will manipulate the process to get your outcome. When the stakes are high and many stakeholders are involved, process and content must be separated. Someone must be held responsible for designing a well-thought-out process design and make that design explicit and fair.

That same person then must facilitate the process so that participants are treated fairly. Whoever is taking this very important role must surrender his or her right to add content. I call this period of time “in role neutral.” This person agrees to go into a role of service to the group, give up advocating for a specific set of ideas, and support adherence to the process.

This person must be explicit when he ...

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